Friday 29 June 2012

Ramble at Killinallan, 29th June 2012

Despite the weather, there were five of us for today's ramble, which was rather wet. Just as we thought it was drying up, it started raining again. Still, we saw more butterflies than on any other ramble and the highlight was a Swift at the end of the walk - a rare sight on Islay. As usual, many thanks to all for your contributions and I'm glad we could introduce Cathy to the Pyramidal Orchid! The rain grounded a Common Blue butterfly which gave us a great opportunity to look at it closely. There is a double thickness Marsh Thistle with a Mohican style 'haircut' just before you go down to the beach which warranted a photo. So all in all, a ramble worth getting wet for!

Eider, Oystercatcher, Starling, Sand Martin, Swift, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Curlew, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Linnet, Red-breasted Merganser

Tormentil, Bird's-foot Trefoil, Daisy, Meadow Buttercup, Grass of Parnassus, Black Bog Rush, Heath Milkwort,  Cat's-ear, Mouse-ear sp., Eyebright, Spear Thistle, Marsh Thistle, Creeping Thistle, Lady's Bedstraw, White Clover, Red Clover, Bracken, Wild Thyme, Marsh Pennywort, Silverweed, Lesser Meadow Rue, Pyramidal Orchid, Northern Marsh Orchid, Common Twayblade, Frog Orchid, Heath-spotted Orchid, Cuckoo Flower, Marsh Marigold (leaves), Ragged Robin, Curled Dock, Meadowsweet, Yorkshire Fog, Thrift, Tufted Vetch, Sea Milkwort, Marram Grass, Common Scurvy Grass, Marsh Lousewort

Six-Spot Burnet, Small Heath, Dark Green Fritillary, Common Blue

Xanthoria parietina (bright yellow), Lecanora gangaleoides (white crustose lichen with black ‘jam tarts’)
Ramalina sp. (grey-green tufty species on stone walls), Anaptychia runcinata (goes green when wet)
Grey Seal

Common Twayblade

Dark Green Fritillary

Frog Orchid

Giant Marsh Thistle

Pyramidal Orchid

Looking at a water-logged Common Blue butterfly through the hand lens.

Photos from Bob and Pat Davison

Thanks to Bob and Pat Davison who emailed us with the exciting news that a Four-spotted Chaser was their first dragonfly on the pond at Glenmor. Well done, Bob!

Courting Roe Deer

Four-spotted Chaser at Glenmor

Photos from Paul NIchols

Thanks to Paul Nichols who recently visited Islay and Colonsay and sent us these photos of a resplendent Swallow at Gruinart and some feral goats on The Oa.

Feral Goats on The Oa

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Ramble at Glen Astle

John and I decided to see if we could walk right round the Glen Astle Lochs - and discovered it's impossible, but we did it! Here's a list of the flora and fauna we saw that made it worth it!

Whinchat, Stonechat, Buzzard, Grasshopper Warbler, Wren, Willow Warbler, Whitethroat, Lesser Redpoll, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Tufted Duck, Oystercatcher, Fulmar, Hooded Crow, Reed Bunting

Round-leaved Sundew, Long-leaved Sundew, Butterwort, Milkwort, Lousewort, Marsh Lousewort, Bell Heather, Cross-leaved Heath, Bracken, Common Nettle, Creeping Thistle, Marsh Thistle, Spear Thistle, Flag Iris

Small Heath, Green-veined White, Common Blue Damselfly, Chevron Moth, Wood Tiger Moth, Adder, Toadlets, Northern Eggar Caterpillar, Six Spot Burnet, Pond Skaters

No Mammals!

Northern Eggar Caterpillar

Mating Common Blue Damselflies

Chevron Moth

Leopard Slug (Limax maximus) - Martin Armstrong

Thanks to Martin for this shot of a serious Leopard slug found in his chicken coop. Check out  this link to see their elaborate mating ritual!

Monday 25 June 2012

Ramble at Sanaigmore, 25th June 2012

There were seven of us for today's ramble at Sanaigmore and it was good to be out again after having to cancel last Friday's ramble due to the torrential rain. As usual we had several pairs of enthusiastic ears and eyes, picking out a variety of wildlife. We did our best to turn a flock of Jackdaws into a flock of Choughs, but it didn't work! We have a few mysteries awaiting identification, which I always enjoy. Thanks to all for an enjoyable ramble (and for finding lots of mermaids' purses for me!) Let me know if I've missed anything out.

Sand Martin, Swallow, Rock Dove, Black Guillemot, Jackdaw, Starling, Wheatear, Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, Skylark,  Common Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper, Oystercatcher, Linnet, Pied Wagtail, Shelduck, Cormorant, Wren, Herring Gull, Raven, Hooded Crow

Bird's-foot Trefoil, Meadow Buttercup, Marsh Marigold (leaves and seed heads), Silverweed, Dove's-foot Cranesbill, Common Storksbill, Monkey Flower, Water Cress, Water Mint, Water Forget-me-not, White Clover, Red Clover, Lady's Bedstraw, Daisy, Common Hawkbit, Eyebright, Spear Thistle, Creeping Thistle, Common Burdock, Lesser Burdock, Common Nettle, Yellow Iris, Field Gentian,  Common Centaury, Wild Thyme, Pineapple Mayweed, Prickly Sow Thistle, Yorkshire Fog, Fairy Flax, Broad-leaved Dock, Curled Dock, Biting Stonecrop, Marram Grass, Sea Milkwort, Thrift, Bog Pimpernel, Common Milkwort, Ribwort Plantain, Carnation Sedge, Dog Violet, Germander Speedwell, Brooklime (Veronica beccabunga), Ragwort

Xanthoria parietina (foliose; bright yellow on rocks and wall), Parmelia saxatilis (foliose; grey), Anaptychia runcinata (foliose; brown/bronzey patches on wall), Ramalina sp., (fruitose; grey/green bushy patches on wall), lichen'), plus other unknown species, unknown fungus (Turf Mottlegill?)


Agrypnus murinus (Click Beetle), Small Heath butterfly, Six-spot Burnet Moth, Bombus lucorum or Bombus magnus

Dogfish Eggcases, Skate Eggcases

Serious botanising

Agrypnus murinus (Click Beetle) Tentative ID as only one record for Scotland!

Bombus magnus or Bombus lucorum (they may be the same, rather than two different species)

Unknown fungus - possibly Panaeolus fimicola/Turf Mottlegill

Six spot Burnet moth

Around Gorm and Gruinart

On Saturday I took John to see the Osprey which folk keep reporting on Loch Gorm. We didn't see it, but we did get mobbed by Whinchats whilst walking down to Loch Gorm. There was a whole family of them. It was delightful.

Near Ballinaby I took a photo of this glorious wild flower meadow - Speedwell, hawkbit, Self-heal and lots of other flowers adorned the field.

Meadow at Ballinaby
At Gruinart hide we heard the Snipe drumming and watched it feeding at the edge of the flats in the long grass for quite some time.


News from the Visitor Centre

It's always exciting to come into the Centre and see that some of the chrysalises have turned into butterflies. Altogether I have released seven Small Tortoiseshell and there are still a lot to go. I leave them for several hours in the pavilion to give them a chance to dry their wings and then release them. You never see them better than when freshly emerged from their chrysalis; they are so beautiful and pristine.

Our Sea Hares are breeding like their land counterparts and new eggs keep appearing in their tank. They graze ever so elegantly on a variety of seaweed.

Meanwhile in the big tank, one Beadlet Anemone has found a way to stop being pestered by the Piecrust Crab at feeding time - stick to its back!
Small Tortoiseshell in the pavilion

Beadlet Anemone on a Piecrust Crab

Saturday 23 June 2012

Another orchid

The much more slender and delicate Lesser Butterfly Orchid. These grow on acid soils often around peaty pools, whereas the Greater Butterfly Orchid is always on much drier, more fertile land, e.g. grass slopes.

More orchids

Carl has already posted a photograph of a Greater Butterfly Orchid from one site on the Rinns. Here's a photo of a few (c.10 together) at another site which is holding a minimum 210 flowering spikes this year, nearly double the previous largest count - 120 in 2010.
Also, there was this clump of Northern Marsh Orchids, though the three tallest spikes are so robust that they could actually be hybrids between Northern Marsh and Heath Spotted, which are not uncommon and have been recorded from this site before.


Friday 22 June 2012

RSPB Moth Extravaganza

Lorna and I thoroughly enjoyed the moth night hosted by the RSPB last night. Thanks to all involved, particularly Josie and Beki. We were shown and told about various methods of trapping, including light trapping, wine-soaked rope trapping (!) and pheronome trapping. Surprisingly the moths were not attracted to the red wine, but we did catch lots of Map-winged Swifts in the light trap. We also heard (via the bat detector) and saw Pipistrelle bats flying round the Visitor Centre at Gruinart. Thanks also to Margaret for the delicious Gingerbread!

The moth trap

A tiny caterpillar - as yet unidentified

News from the Visitor Centre

It's all happening here in the safe confines of the Natural History Trust. Our  first Small Tortoiseshell emerged this morning but has yet to be released due to the wet weather. We now have one adult Small Tortoiseshell, lots of Small Tortoiseshell chrysalises, lots of growing Peacock caterpillars and quite a few still quite tiny Small Tortoiseshell caterpillars. Oh, and one big Small Tortoiseshell caterpillar, which, like Peter Pan, just doesn't seem to want to 'grow up'.
Small Tortoiseshell butterfly and chrysalises

Our Sea Hares are settling in well and are one of my favourite exhibits. Here is a photo of their pink eggs which we are excited about seeing hatching. Look out for these worm like eggs when walking on the shore and take care not to stand on them. They are often washed up on seaweed on the tide line, where they will hopefully be washed back into the sea at high tide.

Sea Hare eggs

Photos from Josephine

Josephine is volunteering at the RSPB and writing a dissertation on the Marsh Fritiallary. She  helped Paul with the medicinal leech survey and sent us this photo of the toadlets, together with this email and photo of a wonderfully relaxed frog at Smaull. Thanks Josephine!

The frog was found on Smaull Reserve and seemed pretty chilled out. I started to take some photographs, as a fly landed on his head. He didn´t seem to be bothered. Looks like an unusual friendship. . .

Another very exiting sighting around the loch were thousands of extremely fresh common toads. The whole ground was moving and we´ve had very carefully to decide where to put your feet on next.

Caption please?


Medicinal Leech and Toadlets

Thanks to Paul Kirkland of the Butterfly Conservation Society for these photos taken whilst studying
medicinal leeches on Islay. I learnt a lot about something I thought I wasn't interested in! I love the toadlets!

Medicinal Leech

Hundreds of emerging Toadlets

Visit from Port Charlotte Pre Fives

We were delighted to welcome the Port Charlotte Pre Five Unit to our Centre this morning and they were equally delighted to watch the sea creatures being fed. Even the 3-bearded Rockling was enticed out by the cacophony - a rare sighting!  The children enjoyed making seaweed pictures and learning about sea hares and mermaid's purses for their project on the sea. Thanks to all for paying us a visit.We hope you enjoyed your time here.
Looking at the Sea Tank

Learning about mermaids' purses

Making Seaweed pictures

Port Charlotte Pre-Five Unit

Some of the children's pictures.

Thursday 21 June 2012

Which way is up?

This Western Red Cedar is beside the track in Ballygrant Woods. The branch doesn't seem to have known whether it was meant to grow up or down, though presumably it all started with some kind of injury when *much* younger.

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Ghost Moth

The great majority of moths show no obvious differences between males and females, but the Ghost Moth is a notable exception. I caught the white male last night, having caught the female on almost the same date last year. I didn't post my photo of the female as it wasn't quite sharp, but here it is to show the difference from the male. To give an idea of their size, the diameter of the plastic tube in which I photograph moths is 42 mm (1.65 inches).
Male Ghost Moth

Female Ghost Moth

Flora and Fauna, Kintra 18th June

The weather had turned by the time the three of us set off for our afternoon ramble at Kintra. It had been glorious in the morning, but was pouring with rain before 4 pm. (Hence the lack of photos.) Our ramble was therefore curtailed - as well as our list of flora and fauna. Thanks to Bill and Janet for their company and loan of a coat!

Common Gull, Jackdaw, Starling, Pied Wagtail, Lesser Redpoll, Chaffinch, Shag, Eider Duck, Oystercatcher, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, Swallow, Wheatear, Great Black-backed Gull, Common Sandpiper, Rock Dove

Tormentil, Bird's-foot Trefoil, Silverweed, Water Avens, Lesser Spearwort, Meadow Buttercup, Milkwort, English Stonecrop, Bell Heather, Cross-leaved Heath, Germander Speedwell, Heath Speedwell, Forget-me-not sp., Marsh Bedstraw, Lousewort, Heath-spotted Orchid, Round-leaved Sundew, White Clover, Eyebright, Marsh Thistle, Creeping Thistle, Spear Thistle, Common Cottongrass, Bog Myrtle, Common Nettle, Wild Thyme, Cuckoo Flower, Hard Fern, Daisy

Wild Goat