Friday 31 May 2013

Pond Dipping

A 2nd year Biology class from Islay High School came to visit us yesterday and then Malcolm took them pond dipping. They had a great time looking at tadpoles, mayfly nymphs, leeches (resulting in the loudest squeals!), water boatmen and water beetles.
Pond Dipping at Shorefield

Caterpillar Extravaganza

David and Jane Griffiths and I went to the Rinns last Sunday to check on Marsh Fritillary progress. Everything has been delayed this year so it was no surprise to see that it was no different with this special species. We saw loads of caterpillars crawling around. Most looked very active (for caterpillars!), but we saw no evidence of pupation. This means a delay of at least two weeks before we can expect to see them on the wing.

However, we were delighted to find more species of caterpillars in the space of ten minutes than I can remember ever having seen before - four species no less! We saw more than one of each species with the exception of the Six-spot Burnet moth, of which we only found one specimen. A delightful morning!

Drinker Moth (Euthrix potatoria)

Garden Tiger Moth (Arctia caja)

Marsh Fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia)

Six spot Burnet moth (Zygaena filipendulae)

Thursday 30 May 2013

More Photos from Colonsay

 Zygaena filipendulae - Six-spot Burnet moth caterpillar

Mating Emperor MothsSaturnia pavonia

Spring Squill (Scilla verna)- abundant on Colonsay, very rare on Islay

Thrift and Bird's-foot Trefoil

Wild goats at Balnahard

Amara beetle

Early Purple Orchids - Orchis mascula

Wednesday 29 May 2013

Green Hairstreaks

Hurray! These tiny spring delights have emerged and are certainly enjoying this latest bout of sunshine. I truly feel that spring has finally arrived! I checked a regular Marsh Fritillary spot for progress there and found dozens of caterpillars not yet even in chrysalis so it will be a very late year for them. Thanks to John Cameron for this photo of Green Hairstreak and its location.

Green Hairstreak

Green Hairstreak Location off high road

Emperor Moth

Thanks to Brian Turner for sending this excellent photo of this magnificent moth, now on the wing.

Emperor Moth - male

A Collection of Pheasants - Benno Hunziker

Tuesday 28 May 2013

Barley plant exhibiting 'tillering' - Rockside Farm

Tillering - where multiple shoots spring from a single seed - with the prospect of multiple ears...  Apparently farmers sometimes lightly graze young barley with sheep at the critical stage to encourage this.

Sowing barley at Octomore Farm last week

The Centre is Open!!

Delighted to say that the Wildlife Centre in Port Charlotte is now open for the 2013 season.  Opening hours are 10.30am - 4.30pm Monday-Friday.  Hope to see you soon....

Roe Deer fawns - George Jackson

Many thanks to George for this shot of new-born Roe deer fawns down on the Shorefield near Bruichladdich.

Sunday 26 May 2013

Photos from Colonsay

I was on Colonsay last week for my brother's wedding and, apart from taking hundreds of wedding photos, managed to get out for some walks and photograph the beautiful scenery and wildlife there. Here's a few for starters.

Beautiful Balnahard Bay on the north-east of the island

Profusion of Dog Violets

Peacock Butterfly

After a week of searching I was rewarded by a brief view of my favourite butterfly - Green Hairstreak. There's no doubt there's fewer of them this year as a result of our poor spring.

Friday 24 May 2013

2013 Season Opening Hours

We open for the 2013 season on Monday 27th May and are open every weekday from 10.30 am to 4.30 pm. From Monday 3rd June there will be a nature ramble every Monday at 2 pm at various locations. This year there's no need to book; just check the location and turn up! The Centre will remain open on Monday afternoons as well. Further details of rambles are available here.We look forward to seeing you soon.

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Pheasant - Beno Hunziker

Another lovely shot from Benno.  Many thanks....

Cowslips and Clouds - Rock Mountain

Oystercatchers - Benno Hunziker

Lovely shot of a pair of Oystercatchers sent to us by Benno Hunziker from Switzerland.  Benno was on Islay celebrating his 50th birthday last week.  Slainte!!

Tuesday 21 May 2013

The Garvellachs

The Garvellachs form a small archipelago to the north of Scarba.  They have been uninhabited for hundreds of years, although there are sheep.  There is a ruined monastery and some beehive huts where the monks used to live in what must have been conditions of considerable privation. 
This picture was taken last Friday, a glorious day with tremendous visibility.  Even in this phone snap it is just about possible to make out a snow capped Ben Nevis in the distance.

Bay of Pigs - Jura

The 'Bay of Pigs' as it is known in some circles, is an anchorage at the western end of the Gulf of Corrievreckan, between Jura and Scarba.  There were two large Canada geese here looking extremely domestic, which is a bit worrying...   Carl

Common Toad

Rather a nice picture of an obliging Common Toad - actually taken on a path on Easdale, but hey....

Saturday 18 May 2013


There's been a landslip from the bank behind the Uiskentuie Strand. This bank is comprised mainly of morainal material (sand and stones) left behind by a glacier and it was then cut back by the sea to the familiar steep slope. It rises at its highest point to about 90 feet, but most of it is about half that, including where the landslip has occurred.

Sunday 12 May 2013

Green-veined White butterflies

There have been a number of these flying around in the last couple of weeks and here's a pair making sure there will be some in the future.

Friday 10 May 2013

Three Islay Lochs

A day dropped from heaven and it was Tuesday. Oh that such a day would return next week for my brother's Colonsay wedding! Anyway, I visited three Islay lochs on that heavenly day, two of which I'd never seen before in all my 8 and a half years on the island. Considering all the lochs I've visited, many of them some distance from the road, it is perhaps surprising that I'd never seen these two which are relatively close to the road. However, unless you make a special effort to do so, you're just not going to see Lochs Staoisha and Loch nam Ban, both near Bunnahabhain.

Loch Staoisha

Loch nam Ban

Ardnahoe Loch

Monday 6 May 2013

A lichen tree

I think there's a small conifer underneath the lichen, unless the lichen has grown like that all by itself!

Saturday 4 May 2013


What a delightful little flower on this familiar plant!

Blaeberry (Vaccinium myrtillus)