Tuesday 31 July 2012

Touchtank visitors

The touch tank was also very popular today, with the star fish being a big hit. We found the eyes on the common starfish, and marvelled at the legs of the sun star, which someone described as a jewel. Some very brave people held the shrimps! Sadly, we decided to release the Butterfish (my favourite), although appearing to be well, it looked a bit pale.  Lorna

The 'jewel' sun star

The tide is out for the common star fish

Bye bye butterfish

Cake, Paint and Bottle lids!

What a caterpillartastic time we've had at the visitor centre today! As part of the Big Butterfly Count, we held a butterfly themed crafty morning, where children (and adults) joined in making butterfly cakes, - scrumptious - bottle lid caterpillars and some very artistic butterflies for our competition. The winner at the end of the season will get a Bugs Production pack, for some serious wildlife watching! I've stayed in the centre this afternoon (tidying up! It's been tough resisting the spare cakes.) while mum (Becky Williamson) and Fiona MacGillivray have led a butterfly counting adventure at Killinallan, and 'Flower Power'. Stay tuned for more on that! Thank you to everybody who came!  Lorna

Artists at work

You only left one for me, Isi?!

An extinct butterfly cake

It was brilliant, messy and fun!

Two of many hatched caterpillars today!

The masterpieces

Ramble at Sanaigmore, 30th July 2012

What a glorious afternoon for a ramble! Nine of us set out at Sanaigmore today and what a treat was in store for us in the form of the spectacular floral carpet that surpassed any such displays that we saw here last year. What our list lacked in birds or insects, it more than made up for in flora today. The highlights were definitely Sanaigmore's first recorded Frog and Pyramidal Orchids. After finding the Frog Orchid I joked that all that now remained was for someone to find a Pyramidal Orchid - and lo and behold - minutes later Anne called us over to examine an orchid she'd found - none other than the Pyramidal Orchid itself. I was delighted! Thanks Anne and to everyone for a most enjoyable ramble.

Gannet, Herring Gull, Rock Dove, Meadow Pipit, Reed Bunting, Swallow, Starling, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Wheatear, Chough, Raven, Jackdaw, Pied Wagtail

Bird's-foot Trefoil, Meadow Buttercup, Marsh Marigold (leaves), Silverweed (leaves),Common Storksbill, Monkey Flower, Water Cress, Water Forget-me-not, White Clover, Red Clover, Lady's Bedstraw, Daisy, Mouse-ear Chickweed, Common Hawkbit, Eyebright, Spear Thistle, Creeping Thistle, Lesser Burdock, Common Nettle, Yellow Iris (leaves), Common Ragwort, Autumn Gentian, Common Centaury, Self-heal, Wild Thyme, Pineapple Mayweed, Prickly Sow Thistle, Yellow Rattle, Red Bartsia, Marsh Willowherb, Yorkshire Fog, Fairy Flax, Harebell, Yarrow, Common Sorrel, Frog Orchid, Pyramidal Orchid, Sea Milkwort, Thrift, Broad-leaved Dock, Curled Dock, Brooklime, Wall Speedwell, Germander Speedwell, Carnation Sedge, Ragwort, Field Gentian, Common Milkwort, Sea Plantain, Buck's-horn Plantain

Common Blue Butterfly, Ringlet, Small White


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), Physcia adscendens (whitish with 'eyelashes')

Carpet of Eyebright


Frog Orchid - Coeloglossum viride

Examining flora

Pyramidal Orchid - Anacamptis pyramidalis

Common Centaury - Centauruim erythraea

Examining a Mermaid's Purse

Farming and wildlife

There will be two presentations covering Bird conservation and livestock farming and the Chough in the UK. Come along and learn about this vital link between farming and conservation.

Monday 30 July 2012

More Rockpooling!

I couldn't squeeze these photos in my last entry about Ardnave. The shanny here was surprisingly subdued, and the snakeslocks anemones were gorgeous, adorning the barnacle strewn ledges of the pool.


Beautiful snakeslocks anemones. Can you seen the velvet horn seaweed?


Windy Ardnave Rockpooling!

I always find new rockpooling locations exciting, and Ardnave was no exception. Mum and I were treated to sponges galore, and hermit crab city! Mum also discovered a colony of Orange lights sea squirts, which is mainly restricted to SW England and Wales.

We begun by skimming the seaweed in the shallows with our net, being won over by the hundreds of Oppossum shrimps that gazed vertically at us behind every wave. As we progressed towards an exposed tidal pool, we happened upon shannies, father lashers, gobies and an overwhelming array of frantic hermit crabs and colourful sponges. At one point, while peering into the murky depths of our bucket, we realised a tiny worm pipefish had found its way into our little water world, un-noticed. A highlight for me was the Aplidium Punctum sea squirt, which resembles squidgy orange pom poms. We will definitely be paying a return visit to this haven of surprise.

Mystery sponge. The aplidium punctum sponge can be seen just under the water.

Another mystery sponge

One of the most impressive hermit crabs.

Orange lights sea squirts. They appeared in the net dislodged, and twisted and turned a bit in the bucket. We returned them to the rocky over hang where we found them.


Golden Eagles - James Deane

Thanks to James for these shots of adult Golden eagles at Traigh Bhan...   Note the very worn primaries and tail feathers.

Ramble today at Sanaigmore

A reminder that this afternoon's ramble is at Sanaigmore at 2 pm. Please phone before 1 pm to book - 01496 850 288 or 07967 205229.

Friday 27 July 2012

Rockpooling at Bruichladdich

Surprisingly there were no takers for the Kilchiaran ramble today. Lorna and I went rockpooling at Bruichladdich instead and have been discovering a whole new world under the rocks we usually turn over and discard as being devoid of life - how wrong we were! Watch this space for potentially yawn-worthy information about sea squirts and sponges! Meanwhile, here's a taster of what you're missing when you fail to look closely or turn over a stone on the shore. Becky

Baby shore crab

Small brittlestar

Myxilla incrustans Sponge

Hymeniacidon perleve (Estuary sponge) 

Sea Sponge/mat

These mating Shore Crabs were not amused when we disturbed them! We quickly left them to it!

Leucosolenia botryoides

Hymeniacidon perleve

Leptasterias muelleri (Northern starfish)

Big Butterfly Count

 There's still chance to enter the Big Butterfly Count!


Wednesday 25 July 2012

Our Peacocks have emerged!

I was glad it didn't happen on Monday - the day of rain. It happened yesterday, or rather it started to happen - the first of our Peacock chrysalises hatched and the beautiful imagos (butterflies) emerged. I allowed them to rest and dry their wings yesterday and today have put them out to enjoy the sunshine and fly off when they are ready. There are still a few left to fly!

Peacock butterflies resting on the pavilion

Islay Goose numbers

The tables above have been published by the Scottish Government this week in response to pressure from Islay farming representatives in the Ileach and elsewhere.  Jamie McGrigor (Highlands and Islands) (Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party) asked the Scottish Executive: "what assessment it has made of the number of geese on Islay in recent years, broken down by species."

Moth Trapping Success

Malcolm, Margaret, Ian, George and Megan were on hand to help Crystal and Danny empty the moth traps set at Islay House Community Garden on Monday evening. 

All the results are not yet in, but in three of the traps we recovered 80 moths of 40 species, including three new to Islay, two of which are new to the vice-county of  Islay, Jura and Colonsay. A great success and thanks to Ian and Margaret for the welcome refreshments.

More details soon....

Tuesday 24 July 2012

INHT joins Twitter

At least I think we do! Try @islayinht to follow us.

Rockpooling at Port Mor

I lost count of the number of kids and adults joining us at Port Mor today for a successful rockpooling session. We caught 25 Shore Crabs, lots of shrimps, blennies, sticklebacks and hermit crabs. Thanks for coming everyone!

Milly with her winning butterfly

Milly Duncan won the butterfly competition last year. Here she is with her winning entry. The competition is running again this year so pop in and get painting!

A 'Magic Show' Contribution

If we all had the enthusiasm and initiative of these youngsters, we would not be in the finanical crisis we're in. Regular visitors to the island, Sophie, Eilidh, Alex, Isla, Evie and Milly brought in the proceeds from a magic show they'd held at the weekend. They invited their parents and grandparents to the show and charged them for the privilege! They said they'd done it because they didn't want the Centre to close - neither do we! Thanks guys. It was a much appreicated and thoughtful gesture.

Sophie, Eilidh, Alex, Isla, Milly and Evie with Becky by our big sea tank.

Monday 23 July 2012

Mothing in Islay House Community Garden

Crystal, Malcolm and Danny in Islay House Community Garden where they set four moth traps in various locations in the gardens and surrounding woods.  Crystal also soaked some rope in red wine and hung it in a tree (honest!!). The brave Lepidopterists (very brave - the midgies were fierce...) will be back at seven o'clock in the morning to (hopefully) sort out their magnificent catch. 
If you can get to the garden for around ten o'clock, you should be able to see how they got on...  Hope to see you there!!

Young Swallows - James Deane

Lovely shot of a brood of Swallows at Bridgend - thanks James...

Otter photos from Ben Larby

Ben joined us for a ramble a few weeks ago and told us about his encounter with otters at McArthur's Head during his time on Islay. He sent us these photos of a family of otters there. We looked last Saturday when we were at McArthur's Head - but didn't have the same luck! Thanks Ben!

Friday 20 July 2012

Ramble at Kintra, 20th July 2012

Five of us set off on a glorious afternoon to explore Kintra and see more of it than before - not because we walked farther -just a different way! I have a feeling the way we went will not be repeated unless we have another Jack who was keen to cross a proper river and got his feet wet in the process. Highilghts were the Little Terns and male Hen Harrier. Eleanor was delighted. It was also encouraging to see so many butterflies- no dragonflies though.Thanks for the adventure folks!

Chough, Raven, Hooded Crow, Eider, Shag, Fulmar, Herring Gull, Oystercatcher, Rock Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Linnet, Swallow, Pied Wagtail, Chaffinch, Hen Harrier, Arctic Tern, Little Tern, Rock Dove, Starling

Yellow Rattle, Red Bartsia, Lady's Bedstraw, Lesser Meadow Rue, Forget -me-not sp., English Stonecrop, Thrift, Wild Thyme, Meadow Buttercup, Lesser Spearwort, Eyebright, Flag Iris, Bog Myrtle, Heath-spotted Orchid, Round-leaved Sundew, Tormentil, Bird's-foot Trefoil, Milkwort, Bell Heather, Cross-leaved Heath, Lousewort, White Clover, Marsh Thistle, Creeping Thistle, Spear Thistle, Common Cottongrass,  Common Nettle, Harebell, Cuckoo Flower, Hard Fern, Daisy, Self-heal, Heather, Yarrow, Marsh Willowherb, Yorkshire Fog, Perennial Rye Grass, Sea Plantain

Harvestman ( Leiobunum sp)., Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Common Blue, Small Tortoiseshell, Dark Green Fritillary

Common Frog

Dark Green Fritillary


The adventurous way beneath the waterfall

The waterfall at Kintra