Thursday 29 October 2015

Last chance to visit the sea creatures this season

Our monster - Edible Crab

There is just one more day left of the season for the Islay Natural History Centre, your last chance to see the crabs, lobster and Topknot flatfish before we release them back into the wild.

We will be emptying the tanks on Saturday morning so if you can come and visit tomorrow (Friday 30th) between 10.30 - 4.30 we would love to see you.
Don't mess with me! - Velvet swimming crab

'Greedy guts' - Long-spined Seascorpion 

Cute - Topknot flatfish
Also, .....I can barely bring myself to mention it, but ....if you are already considering Christmas stocking fillers, then we have a great range of cool kids stuff here in the shop!  There I said it ... and Halloween isn't yet passed.

Come see us on our last day!

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Coast to Coast talk tomorrow evening 29th October

Join us tomorrow evening (29th Oct) for what promises to be a fascinating talk on the  Coast to Coast walk by Sandy Taylor and Chris Abell - with refreshments, a picture quiz and even a prize! £3 (£1 for INHT members), 7:30pm at the INHT Visitor Centre, Port Charlotte (next to the youth hostel).

Thursday 22 October 2015

Our Topknot flat fish

A rare underside view
A more unusual view of our big tank resident.  It usually hides upside down tucked up in one of the tubes but yesterday decided to venture out and show us its underside, which Mandy managed to capture on camera at the end of the day!
Our usual view

Seashell ID Workshop - this Sunday 25th October (2-4pm)

I think I may have chosen well looking at the weather - an indoor rAmble this week!

Well be sure to have a gander along a beach before hand and collect up some interesting shells and beachcombing finds of mystery and bring them along.  Our seashell identification workshop this Sunday will aim to give you hints and tips on how to identify your beach treasures.  There will be an array of specimens to compare against, I have collected shells from all of Islay's beaches and have amalgamated records of some 134 species so whether large or small I can help with identification.

There are some interesting stories behind some of the species and what they get up to when living.

Here are some good places to go looking:
Uiskentuie Strand - for big clam species - occasional piddocks and some smaller gastrapods
Black Rock can throw up some interesting smaller specimens, particularly after this recent storm
Big Strand, nr. Knockangle Point - the currents collect a lot of interesting species, Cowries and other sea-snails.
Pheasant Shell
Kilnaughton - look for small and miniature species, and some not found regularly elsewhere
Killinallan and Ardnave - can have a whole range of different species, although you may have to walk further between finds.
Gartbreck - a whole array of medium to small sea-snails gather and wash ashore with the currents, many rarer and more fragile, so a great place for more unusual specimens.
Goose Barnacle

Sea Squirt
 Any west coast beach after the last days winds may throw up Goose Barnacles on floating logs and 'By-the-wind Sailors' at this time of year.

Come and join me on Sunday, only £2 for INHT members; £4 non-members
Fiona MacGillivray

Autumn Woodland Wonders

Autumn Woodland Wonders activity last week was a great experience, the weather perfect, the leaves all changing colour and very enthusiastic little people ready for some woodland exploration.  We set out looking for all the interesting leaves, nuts and seeds, looking for all the signs of Autumn.  The leaves of Sycamore just now are covered in black spots, evidence of the presence of 'Jerking Disc Sawfly'.

The children enjoyed a spell of fun on the rope swing before a game of Poo Sticks off the bridge over the River Sorn and then a hunt for minibeasts amongst the leaf litter and rotting logs.

All keen explorers.

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Islay Dolphins

Fantastic sighting of dolphins on way to work today, a pod of 8 - 10 dolphins in Loch Indaal. As I was approaching Port Charlotte lighthouse I saw several animals break the surface heading northwards close into the shore.

On continuing to watch I realised that there was a pod of dolphins spread out close to shore. Pity the film crew working at the lighthouse didn't see it they had better cameras than me.

These maybe the same animals that have been in Kilnaughton Bay for the last two evenings. This is a good pod of mixed animals with large adults, sub adults and small younger dolphins.

There have been great images on local social media pages of the dolphins in Kilnaughton Bay and surrounding area.

So keep a look out for them and enjoy the sights of these beautiful animals.

Sorry no images couldn't zoom my tablets in close enough.


Monday 19 October 2015

Birding at Carnain yesterday

Gary led a small group of dedicated birders yesterday to see what was about the shore of Loch Indaal at Carnain.

Beautiful calm conditions
Out on the loch were a raft of scaup, with a couple of slavonian grebes in amongst them and a couple of red throated divers nearby. Nearer in to the shore between us and Blackrock were numerous red breasted mergansers, and behind us between us and the road a kestrel was hovering. Nearby on the gorse we saw a pair of stonechat, and on the strandline several pied wagtails were trotting around. Also active on the shore was a great black backed gull which had just caught a very large starfish!

Out towards Bridgend were many barnacle geese, ringed plovers and oystercatchers, and many smaller waders that had been pushed further away by the crossing cattle making identification difficult, but there was a large flock of golden plovers over on the shore towards Bowmore that looked beautiful in the sun.

Highlight of the afternoon though was the sight of these two long-tailed ducks, looking beautiful on the calm loch.

Long-tailed ducks, photo by Gary Turnbull
Sightings list 18/10/2015 Carnain:
Mute Swan; Red Throated Diver; Great Northern Diver; Grey Heron; Cormorant; Shag; Common Gull; Herring Gull; Black headed Gull; Red breasted Merganser; Scaup 35; Eider; Mallard; Teal; 
Common Scoter; Long tailed Duck 2; Slavonian Grebe; Kestrel; Curlew; Oystercatcher; Golden Plover; Ringed Plover; Bar-tailed Godwit; Turnstone; Pied Wagtail; Meadow Pipit; Goldfinch; Starling; Stonechat

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Saligo's super geology

15 people joined us on Dave's geology walk at Saligo on Sunday, which turned out to be a fascinating and informative afternoon. Dave started off by a quick resume of basic geology including the 3 categories of rock - igneous (has cooled from molten rock), sedimentary (formed in layers) and metamorphic (changed from one form to another) - which in itself was a good start for a novice like me! We then headed down onto the beach for a closer look at the amazing rocks down there.

Dave pointing out the chilled margin of a 55 million year old igneous dyke. This is made of dolerite and trends NW-SE and probably originated in the Blackstones Bank volcanic centre about 40 miles to the NW. These dykes are part of the process of the opening of the North Atlantic Ocean.

Throw it! THROW IT!

The rocks to the south of the beach dipped to the left (SW), the ones to the north dipped right (NE), indicating that the rock layers had folded due to compressive forces (like when continents collide). Dave taught us that a convex-upward fold is called an Anticline (like and Arch) and a convex-downward fold is called a Syncline (like a Saucer).

The rocks here were turbiditic sandstones deposited by turbidity currents in deep water, and Dave reminded us of the school experiment we might have done, filling a jam jar with water, mud and rocks, shaking it up and letting it settle. The bigger bits sink to the bottom and the fine mud setlles out slower - leaving a deposit that 'fines upward'.

A small anticline fold in bedded turbiditic sandstones of the Colonsay Group (deposited about 750 million years ago and folded about 470 million years ago).

another smaller dyke

Many thanks to Dave for a fascinating talk/walk, and to all those who came along!

Thursday 8 October 2015

A migrant moth

I caught this small, 19-mm-long, moth last night. It is a Rush Veneer Nomophila noctuella which is an annual migrant to Britain from southern Europe, sometimes in large numbers. This the first I've caught and the first on Islay since one was caught at Gruinart in July 2009. There have been 14 earlier records, 9 of them in July 1996 which must have been a good year for them.

Wednesday 7 October 2015

Geology walk at Saligo this Sunday 11th October

Next in our series of Sunday afternoon rAmbles is a Geology walk at Saligo Bay on the 11th, and if the previous geology walks are anything to go by this should be a cracker! I love looking at the rock formations at Saligo and am looking forward to hearing, amongst other things, how they were formed and what they're called from our expert Dave Webster who'll be leading the walk. Co-author of the recently published and fascinating book "A Guide to the Geology of Islay" (available in the INHT shop, now open until end October!), Dave has a wealth of knowledge to share so this is one not to miss! Meet at the gate for 2 pm - parking is limited in this area so please park responsibly. There is a small charge for this walk of £4 for adults, £2 for INHT members, and £10 for families. Sorry no dogs. See you Sunday!

Monday 5 October 2015

October opening!

We're pleased to say that this year we're open throughout October during weekdays, so why not come along for a visit? Lots to do and see here, including a new poster on the Drift Bottle Project, as well as the newly-moulted shell of our Velvet Swimming crab! We'll be running more rAmbles and talks too, so keep and eye for more details to follow. See you soon!