Monday 30 June 2014

Killinallan Ramble

The first summer Sunday rAmble of the season (29th June) was a great success, wonderful group of people and the lovely sunny weather showed off the wildlife at its real best.  A nice low tide, provided a host of crabs, fish and the grey seals came out to bask in the sun!
Of note: big hermit crabs, common shore crab, cockles, shanny, butterfish, sand mason worms, grey seal, eiders, redshank, oystercatchers.

A move up onto the dunes had a plethora of dune flowers, butterflies and moths.  Orchids: pyramidal orchid, frog orchid, fragrant orchid, northern marsh orchid, common twyblade and a sole wayward marsh helleboraine.  Dune flowers: wild thyme, lady's bedstraw, fairy flax, lesser meadow rue, burnet rose, bird's foot trefoil, grass of Parnassus, marsh pennywort, self heal.  Insects: six spot burnet (everywhere), small heath, meadow brown, ringlet, common blue, dark green fritillary, marsh fritillary (old and tired), grasshopper and dragonfly.  The last couple of creatures, common lizard and skylark.  Finally at the end of the walk the seals decided to sing as I promised that they would.




Thursday 26 June 2014

Rockpooling at Bruichladdich

Having recently arrived back on Islay for the summer, high on my list of priorities was, of course to explore some rockpools! At Bruichladdich, this usually means turning over the many stones available at low tide, and often discovering something different with each visit. The weather yesterday was not exactly in our favour, and also seemed to affect the usual abundance of creatures. However, dipping into the shallows, mum and I were excited to find a Comb Jelly (4cm long, but grows up to 12cm), and a Leuckartiara Jellyfish (about 1cm long) which belongs to the Hydrozan medusae group. I have long wanted to see the latter, sometimes wandering down to the shore at night, hoping to pick them out by torchlight. We were happy to be able to contribute a few new additions to the INHT Visitor  Centre touch tank, such as 15 Spined Sticklebacks, and a pretty pink Hermit Crab. Another species common at this location is the Small Brittlestar, which due to their size, will not be kept in our tanks, but are well worth looking for. 

Keep an eye out for our INHT family activity sessions, including our popular rockpooling trips. On Friday 4 July, at 2-3.30pm in Port Ellen, we will be Exploring Sandy Shores. Bring your wellies, and join us! 

Comb Jelly

Leuckartiara Jellyfish


Wednesday 25 June 2014

Welcome to Chris Bristow

The Management Committee would like to extend a long overdue and warm welcome to Chris Bristow, the Centre's new manager, originally from Kent, but recently graduated from Cumbria University with a degree in Wildlife and Media. He is a keen birder and has many exciting plans for the Visitor Centre in Port Charlotte. Why not pop in and introduce yourself?

Tuesday 24 June 2014

So What's been happening?

So I believe after 3 weeks as center manager I am well and truly overdue a post to the blog, My name is Chris Bristow, I will be center manager for the summer. My training is within Wildlife media and so over the course of the next few months I will endeavor to update displays and create new interactive displays, updates on this will be posted on here as new displays are prepared and created.

Now a quick update on the wildlife front, many of you may have heard about the Red-Necked Phalarope seen at the RSPB Gruinart reserve, unfortunately after 3 visits on separate occasions I have yet to see it but fortunately someone has been able to provide us with some images showing us just what we missed.

From what I have heard it may or may not still be hanging around so anyone eager to see one may be in with a chance, if you do spot it please let me know as I will be out with binoculars as soon as the center closes.

Alongside the Phalarope I have just received some pictures from some visitors who were lucky enough to find a velvet scoter,once again here is a picture for anyone who were not as lucky.

Tuesday 10 June 2014

A new micromoth for Islay

I caught this very small (c.12 mm long) moth last night. Unlike many micromoths for which I have to call on expert Danny Arnold's invaluable help to identify, this one is distinctive enough for me to be confident in my own identification!
There is no English name, but its scientific name is Olethreutes schulziana - also called in some books, Phiaris schulziana. It is the first reported for Islay (with no records from neighbouring Jura or Colonsay, either) and has a somewhat disjunct distribution, occurring in northern England and Wales and southern Scotland, and then in northeast and northwest Scotland, including the Outer Hebrides, with a big gap inbetween in which sits Islay!

Saturday 7 June 2014

Beinn Bheigier from Kynagarry

Wow! What a day! I wasn't looking forward to 3 miles of monotony along the Kynagarry track to the start of the moorland trek to Beinn Bheigier, but I can tell you, I was looking forward to it on the way back after miles of making muscles you'd forgotten you had work harder than they have in a long time! Also, I was wrong about the 3 miles of monotony; with almost every footstep we saw something new - the air was truly alive with the sound of natural music. It was a great morning for insects and I was delighted to see my first 2014 Marsh Fritillary, plus the bonus of one freshly emerged (I wished we'd come upon it minutes earlier as I've never seen its chrysalis). The biggest bonus of the day, for me at least, was the brief sighting of 2 Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk Moths. They were too quick for a photo - as was the adder - James' highlight of the day. We just managed a photo of its disappearing tail.

Approaching Islay's highest hill from this direction is definitely more difficult than from Ardtalla, but it was a rewarding walk, with stunning views, and well worth the effort. I'm just glad that, unlike James, I didn't have to go and play rugby afterwards!

Adder tail

Small Copper

Thrift - growing on top of Beinn Bheigier

Allalladh and Red Deer

Beautiful wispy clouds and Beinn Bheigier

Emerging Marsh Fritillary

Elephant Hawkmoths

Last night, I caught an Elephant Hawkmoth, which I have seen many times in my moth trap. However, there was also a similar but much smaller hawkmoth, which I was delighted to identify as a Small Elephant Hawkmoth, of which there is just one previous Islay record - one seen by Becky at Killinallan in 2011. The only other record in this area is one in north Jura in 2004.
The tubes the moths were photographed in are the same size, which nicely demonstrates the difference in their sizes.
Elephant Hawkmoth

Small Elephant Hawkmoth