Sunday 30 September 2012


After last autumn's dearth of berries, with the late May storm having stripped off all the blossom, it's good to see a plentiful supply of bird food this year.

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Design a Butterfly Competition

Well done to Innes Baker, aged 4, of Elderslie who won our 'Design a Butterfly' competition this year. Here is his creative and colourful winning design. Thanks to all who entered. It was a tough competition once again with many wonderful designs to choose from. Thanks to Fiona MacGillivray of Greenbug Productions for judging the competition and donating the prize which will be winging its way to Elderslie soon.

Nature Ramble at Ardnave - 24th September 2012

I was more surprised than ever when four intrepid ramblers walked boldly through the door yesterday morning and announced they wanted to book for the ramble that afternoon. Undeterred by our doom and gloom about the weather forecast they said they'd call back at 1.30 pm to see what the verdict was. Meanwhile two more men turned up and asked if there was any way they could get a lift for the ramble! I think I was the only reluctant one, but we all togged up with gaiters and waterproofs and set off, preparing ourselves by discussing Shackleton and Antarctica on the way.

It was actually OK. Lesson learned - do not always trust the forecast! Or maybe it was a case of expecting the worst so anything slightly better would seem a bonus. Anyway, thanks folks for encouraging me to get out. It was a great ramble (no photos though!) - I'm glad it wasn't today!

Curlew (heard), Ringed Plover, Turnstone, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Chough, Pied Wagtail, Mute Swan, Rock Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Snipe, Grey Heron

Common Storksbill, Ragged Robin, Grass of Parnassus, Marsh Marigold (leaves), Flag Iris (leaves), Water Mint, Devil's-bit Scabious, Sheep's-bit, Bell Heather, Tormentil, Meadowsweet, Yarrow, Common Centaury (new one for this ramble), Lady's Bedstraw, Marsh Lousewort, Square-stalked St John's Wort, Water Cress, Brooklime, Speedwell sp., Forget-me-not sp., Common Nettle, Creeping Thistle, Marsh Thistle, Self-heal, Lesser Spearwort, Silverweed (leaves), Red Clover, White Clover, Harebell, Milkwort, Red Bartsia, Meadow Buttercup, Wild Thyme, Daisy, Bracken, Tufted Vetch (leaves)

Xanthoria parietina (yellow foliose), Anaptychia runsinata (Brown foliose turning green when wet), Ramalina sp. (grey/green fruitose), Lecanora sp (crustose with black 'jam tarts'), Red Waxcap

Hare, Wolf Spider, Fox Moth caterpillar

Sunday 23 September 2012

Nature Ramble at Killinallan - Friday 21st September 2012

I was pleased to have a ramble on the first day of autumn, and that the weather was so favourable. For once the seals weren't singing, but there was still a wealth of floral bounty to enjoy. Thanks to Rosie, Marion and Laurie for coming and for being so enthusiastic.

Curlew, Oystercatcher, Grey Heron, Rock Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Bar-tailed Godwit, Rock Dove, Starling

Autumn Gentian, Daisy, Ragged Robin, Flag Iris (leaves), Frog Orchid, Tormentil, Marsh Pennywort, Tufted Vetch (leaves), Marsh Lousewort, Grass of Parnassus, Devil's-bit Scabious, Black Bog Rush, Self-heal, Marsh Thistle, Red Clover, Bracken, Wild Thyme, Burnet Rose (leaves), Yarrow, Meadowsweet, Thrift, Harebell, Water Mint

Fruitose sp (Ramalina), Crustose sp (Lecanora), Foliose sp (Xanthoria parietina)

Bombus lucorum (White-tailed Bumble Bee), Orb Weaver Spider

Shore Crab
Autumn Gentian

Bombus lucorum (White-tailed Bumble Bee) on Devil's-bit Scabious

Unknown insects on Grass of Parnassus

Compare this to last Friday's seascape!

Rosie watches a compliant bumble bee (closer photo above)

Thursday 20 September 2012

Photos from Mathew

Thanks to Mathew, who is visiting the island at the moment, for these wonderful early morning shots of a feeding otter. He also has a fantastic video which we're hoping to feature soon.

Final Photos from Kintour Ramble

Hoverfly (Helophilus sp)

Lichen - Cladonia spp.

Delicate fungus - mycena sp

Petticoat Mottlegil - Panaeolus papilionaseus.

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Photos from Paul Kirkland

Paul was here recently, working for Butterfly Conservation Scotland and he sent us these photos from his trip. On his previous trip he had been working on leeches and returned to the site on this occasion to see if he could find any leech cocoons. Hey presto! He did! He's kindly donated one to the Trust and (arguably) ugly though the adults are, the cocoon looks so intricate and beautiful through the microscope. Thanks, Paul! I had no idea such things existed!
Horse Leech 'cocoon'

Medicinal Leech 'cocoon'

Marsh Fritillary Web

Marsh Fritillary Web at Claddach


Grey Seals at Claddach

Tuesday 18 September 2012

More photos from our Kintour Ramble

I like to post them in stages!

Meadow Froghopper ( Philaenus spumarius)

Long-jawed Orb Weaver (Metellina segmentata)

Common Garden Spider ( araneus diadematus)

Hoverfly ( Platycheirus sp)

Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies released

Yesterday I released all seven of our Small Tortoiseshell butterflies, freshly emerged from their chrysalises. They had been feeding on the remains of my nectarine and sugar water over the weekend so were hopefully energised enough to take flight against the wind. We still have seven tiny Common Marbled Carpet Moth caterpillars looping their way round dock leaves in the Centre.

Monday 17 September 2012

Rooks at Octomore

Rooks loading the telegraph wires on the Kilchiaran road while taking a break from stuffing themselves on Octomore barley

Walk from Kintour to Tighnaspeur and back to Tallant

As far as the weather's concerned, all I can say is I'm glad we didn't attempt it yesterday! This was a circular walk from Kintour across relentless bog and ancient dùns to Tighnaspeur (Sky House) and back to the phone masts at Tallant. Not a long walk in terms of miles, but over very difficult terrain. It was thoroughly enjoyable and we saw lots of creepy crawlies! I'll miss Lorna's company on these walks - not many folk can say at the end of the walk, when discussing the ups and downs of the day, "but I liked the bog!"

Raven, Meadow Pipit, Robin, Wren, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch (all at Tallant), Skylark

Red Deer (roaring)

4-spot Orb Weaver Spiders (lots), other spider spp, Violet Ground Beetle, Satyr Pug caterpillars, Marsh Fritillary web, Bombus pascourum (Common Carder Bee), Brown Leafhopper, Hoverfly spp,

Cladonia sp., fungi to be identified

Bog Pimpernel, Cross-leaved Heath, Bell Heather, Heather, Devil's-bit Scabious, Round-leaved Sundew, Water Mint, Goat Willow, Bog Myrtle, Lesser Spearwort, Tormentil, Milkwort

Female 4-spot Orb Weaver Spider on its web

Wall remains of Dùn Beag

Bombus Pascourum (Common Carder Bee)

Raven calling

Satyr Pug larva on Devil's-bit Scabious

Violet Ground Beetle

Marsh Fritillary Webs and Bees

After the ramble Lorna and I went to look for Marsh Fritillary webs. We saw about a dozen at one site and were encouraged by this. Also by the number of bumble bees emerging in the lull of the storm.

White-tailed Bumble Bee (Bombus lucorum) on Devil's-bit Scabious

Marsh Fritillary caterpillars braving the elements

Ramble at Kilchiaran - 14th September 2012

A very small group of three of us set off on a very stormy afternoon for a very quick ramble at Kilchiaran. The camera didn't come out often so I only have one decent photo to show for it. The wind had died down considerably before the end of the walk. Despite the conditions we saw more raptors than on any other ramble, but little else. An enjoyable afternoon nonetheless.

Raven, Chough, Rock Dove, Buzzard, Kestrel, Hen Harrier (f), Rock Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Eider, Shag, Gannet, Common Gull, Great Black-backed gull, Herring Gull, Linnet, Ringed Plover, Starling, Pied Wagtail

Dead men's Fingers

Grey Seal

Silver Y Moth

Nothing unusual noted

Stormy sea at Kilchiaran

Sunday 16 September 2012

Thank you to Lorna

Lorna Williamson (Becky's daughter) has just completed her summer's work as Centre Assistant and is off this week to take up a place at Leeds University to read music.
We have thoroughly enjoyed having her work for us, very capable, ever cheerful, ever inventive (whether new displays or new ideas for things for children to do), artistic, and not just drawing wildlife but painting faces (see photograph), and as fascinated by wildlife as her mother (which is saying something!).
Enjoy yourself at Leeds, Lorna, and see you back here in your vacations.
And many thanks.

Friday 14 September 2012

Golden-ringed Dragonfly Exuvia

I found this on our ever so slow ramble down Glen Astle the other day. I'm pretty sure it's the nymph case (or exuvia) of a Golden-ringed Dragonfly and quite an unusual find.

Saligo - George Robertson

Three studies of the incomparable Saligo Bay from George.  Many thanks for sharing....

More photos from the Glen Astle Ramble

More photos from our Glen Astle ramble:

Galeruca tanaceti - a type of leaf beetle

Ruby Tiger Moth larva - mid instar

Spider - Theridiidae sp.

Lesser Water Boatmen - the yellow one is apparently a recently moulted adult. 

Thursday 13 September 2012

Guess who Quiz (Amended)

Since today was my last official day working at the natural history visitor centre 2012, I decided to have a bit of fun getting shots of my favourite tank residents in a different light. How many can you identify? Some are more obvious than others. Feel free to add your suggestions as a comment on this post. I will reveal all the identities on Saturday evening!