Wednesday 23 April 2014

Green Hairstreak and Oil Beetle

I'm always very excited about seeing my first Green Hairstreak and this was especially precious as it actually crawled onto my hand!!! As if this excitement was not enough, we also saw a species of Oil Beetle which is quite scarce. I await Crystal's id! Watch this space . . .

Green Hairstreak

Violet Oil Beetle

Violet Oil Beetle

Emperor Moth

Thanks to David Griffiths for sending us this spectacular photo of a male Emperor Moth, taken on the Walk Islay walk up Beinn Bheigier last week.

Emperor Moth - Saturnia pavonia

Sornasairidh from Ballachlaven

Lorna and I enjoyed a long walk in the spring sunshine across bog and tussocks and heather from Ballachlaven farm to the lovely ruin of Sornasairidh. It was 8 miles altogether and we saw 15 lizards, 4 ruins, 5 Golden Eagles, 1 Buzzard, 1 dun and 0 clouds!

Carabus glabratus

Clach an Tiompan

Cladonia sp

Drinker Moth caterpillar

Golden Eagles

Emperor Moth - female

Common Lizard

Red Deer hinds

Sornasairidh ruin

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Serenity at Killinallan

The Sanderling was unfazed by our presence; the skies were serene; the Emperor Moth had got on with its emerging; the Marsh Fritillary Caterpillars were napping; the bees were humming; the larks were exalting - all was right with the Islay world!

Bombus pascuorum - Common Carder Bee

Freshly emerged female Emperor Moth - Saturnia pavonia

The beach at Killinallan, looking towards Gortantoid

Marsh Fritillary caterpillars (sadly with some parasitized)

Sanderling at Killinallan

Friday 11 April 2014

Juniper Haircap Moss

A new moss for me (or rather one that I have positively identified!) The red 'flowers' are actually the male plants and the 'flowers' are modified leaves that form small terminal 'flowers' at the shoot ends.

Juniper Haircap Moss (Polytrichum juniperinum)

Friday 4 April 2014

Purple Saxifrage and Marsh Fritillary Caterpillars

I tend to think spring is advancing when I see these tiny black creatures emerge from wherever they've been hiding all winter, make their way to the top of a plant shoot and bask in the warm sun. Little did I expect to see them twisting and turning their pin-sized heads this cold and breezy afternoon on our stroll on the Oa. But there they were - and lots of them. It was fantastic! As if that wasn't exciting enough, Jane spotted first one, then several clumps of brilliant lilac Purple Saxifrage adorning the cliffs. These amazingly coloured flowers know where to grow for safety, for nothing can graze them there! The ones I photographed were the only accessible ones! What a wonderful afternoon!

Marsh Fritillary caterpillars

Each black spot is a clump of caterpillars!

Purple Saxifrage

Purple Saxifrage on the cliffs on The Oa

Tuesday 1 April 2014


It's so exciting when you see your first caterpillar and beetle at the beginning of a new year. On various walks last week, Paul and I saw quite a few Drinker Moth caterpillars and this large chrysalis which we later identified as an Emperor Moth chrysalis. Why haven't I seen them before? The moth itself will emerge probably later this month. Of course lichens are here all year round, which makes them extra delightful, so I've included a sample of just some that we saw on our Islay travels!
PS The beetle got away photoless!

Drinker Moth caterpillar

Emperor Moth chrysalis

Cladonia floerkeana

Cladonia sp

Fuscidea cyathoides

Downy moss?