Monday 22 June 2015

Orchids and insectivores - yesterday's rAmble at Bunnahabhain.

Given the original weather forecast for Sunday, we were lucky after all on our rAmble at Bunnahabhain, with spells of sunshine and only one brief shower. After admiring the views over to Jura, our intrepid band of 8 headed up the track towards the woodlands, spotting many different wildflowers along the way (see list at the end for everything we saw!).

Perhaps for me the nicest sight was of the orchids, of which we saw 4 types: common spotted orchid, northern marsh orchid, heath spotted orchid and early purple orchid. No doubt there’ll be even more orchids to see on our rAmble next Sunday at Killinallan, which is an area well-known for these beautiful wildflowers! Details to follow.
Another lovely sight was the Sundew, growing right there in the middle of the track! These tiny plants are insectivorous, and catch small insects (like midges!) in their sticky globules that the insects mistake for water. Its name comes from the fact that the sun does not evaporate what was originally mistaken for dew, and Alchemists thought therefore that the plant must have magical properties. For me, its most magical quality is that it eats midges. All hail the Sundew! And not forgetting the lovely Butterwort, which is also insectivorous.

Time flew with so much to stop and look at, and although we were out for 3 hours it seemed like no time at all before we were heading back down the track again, with lovely views of the Sound of Islay ahead of us. Before leaving we headed down towards the distillery to see if we could spot an otter, with no luck sadly. We did spot some seals though further up the coast, and a Black Guillemot was spotted flying over the sea’s surface. And to top it all, on the drive home some of us were lucky enough to see an Osprey over Ardnahoe Loch, as well as a Buzzard and a male Hen Harrier nearby. All in all it made for a very enjoyable Sunday afternoon! Thanks to Fiona for leading the walk. Mandy

Birds (seen or heard): Redpoll, Linnet, Blackcap, Goldcrest, Willow Warbler, Starling, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch. Ardnahoe Loch: Osprey, Buzzard and male Hen Harrier.

Flowers: Eyebright, lady’s bedstraw, heath bedstraw, common spotted orchid, northern marsh orchid, heath spotted orchid, early purple orchid, bluebell, germander speedwell, field speedwell, tormentil, lousewort, milkwort (purple and pink), butterwort, sundew, yellow pimpernel, cotton grass, hard fern, crowberry, willow with galls on it, primrose, water avens, red clover, white clover.

Mosses and Lichens: Star moss, Sphagnum moss, Chladonia spp. (lichen).

Insects: Dor beetle, Sexton beetle.

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