Thursday 29 June 2017

Join us for Dune delights at Killinallan this Sunday (2nd July)

The Best Dune Flowers of Islay

This is one of my favourite nature rAmbles each year there is so much to see in a short space of time.  A wondrous patchwork of colour and such an array of orchids.  Hoping for a nice sunny day that the flowers are host to lots of lovely butterflies and moths too.

Fragrant Orchid and Six Spot Burnet Moth

Pyramidal Orchid and Six-Spot Burnet
Frog orchid and soldier beetle
Everyone is welcome to join us at 2pm at the end of the road at Killinallan gate (east side of Loch Gruinart). Small charge of £5 per person, £10 family (2ad + children) all going to the Islay Natural History Trust funds

Sunday 25 June 2017

Geological Ramble at Saligo

A great turn-out of 16 for this first geo-walk of the season. The weather was (mostly) fine and as well as looking at the Colonsay Group turbidites, some folds and two different igneous intrusions we made a 'timeline' on the beach (photo) and managed an extended walk out to Campa to see a great example of a anticline (arch) - which gives the area its local name of 'The Arches' (photo).

Friday 23 June 2017

Sunday afternoon nature walks - Sanaigmore

Sundays Sanaigmore Nature rAmble through the dunes

The weather cleared although a low cloud and mist still hung heavy over the nearby hills.  It was an enthusiastic group and lovely to take out and spot birds and flowers, though too damp for butterflies.  

Along the shore were the always present Oystercatchers with Ringed Plover and Common Sandpiper calling too and showing some clear views.  Out in the bay a solitary Black Guillemot  showed well and the distant calls of Chough were later rewarded with a close up view as one decided to sit on a nearby fence and have a chat with a sheep!  The group were pleased to then be able to pick out the birds red legs and curved bill.  Further around the dune on an area of raise beach pebbles the small Common Gull colony was busy and amazingly one of the group spotted two young chicks as they moved amongst the pebbles, soon dissolving into the jumble as they became motionless again.

Common Milkwort alongside Eyebright yet to flower
The flowers were varied, some in bloom and some just coming out.  An exchange of knowledge on small identifying features is always welcome as we all go away having learned a little more from the day, for me Lesser Hawkbit and its concave leaf ends.  Storksbill and Hawkbits in full splendour, with Eyebright, Bird's Foot Trefoil, English Stonecrop just appearing.  Common Milkwort , Trift and Thyme interspersed the grasses and rocky outcrops.  Lesser Meadow Rue was found growing amongst some rock and pebbles above the high tide line out of easy browsing from the sheep.  In the wetter marshy areas Ragged Robin, Water Forget-me-not, Lesser Spearwort, Water Mint, and Northern Marsh Orchid, along with what I found to be (I hope) Thyme Leaved Speedwell.


Sea Plantain alongside Buckshorn Plantain

Lesser Meadow Rue 

An altogether pleasant afternoon.  For those who like their natural history more ancient and solid, this Sunday's rAmble will be with David Webster who will be explaining all about the ancient rock formations, folding and intrusions exposed for all to see on the beach at Saligo.  So for a fascinating afternoon meet at the Saligo gate at 2pm.

Fiona MacG

Sticklebacks and Solar Powered Sea Slugs

Here at the Islay Natural History Trust we work hard to maintain the tanks and keep them in good condition so when we see contented creatures breeding and displaying, a sign of a happy environment, we can be satisfied that we are doing the right thing for the creatures in our care.
A Common Prawn 
At the end of last week the eggs of one of our male sticklebacks hatched and he appeared to be caring for them well, however, the young all seem to have disappeared over the weekend. He does appear to still be guarding the nest and there may be new set of eggs in it. Perhaps he will have better luck next time?

This small sea slug was spotted clinging to the glass of the large marine aquarium this morning, I think it is the Green Sea Slug or Elysia viridis(the colour usually depends on the type of algae that has been eaten). The Green sea slug is unusual in that it belongs to a clade - Sacoglossa - of sea slugs which are the only animals to use kleptoplasty. This is where the chloroplasts from digested algae are retained and used by the host to provide it with the products of photosynthesis - they are, at least in part, solar powered.  
Green Sea Slug

Hermit crabs are not the only animals that like to live inside disused sea-shells. 

Beth C

Friday 16 June 2017

Sea Tank Critters Update

It has now been a few weeks since we set up our tanks here at the Islay Natural History Trust and it is nice to find that all of our creatures are settling in well. 
This Shanny is a master of camouflage. 

The three spined sticklebacks in the main marine aquarium are thriving in particular. The males, which are distinguishable by their red undersides, have built nests which they are now defending.
The male Stickleback guarding his nest. 

A female stickleback.

One male has begun to fan his nest, a behaviour which helps to circulate water over the eggs and keeps them well oxygenated. He is also particularly fierce in the defence of his nest, and appears to have claimed the whole end of the tank as his own.

The hermit crabs are now also moving into new, larger shells.
A hermit crab in the rock-pool tank has taken up residence in a dog whelk shell. 
Beth C 

Monday 12 June 2017

Gartbreck - Seashore Bonanza! Nature Walk

Yet again showers and donning waterproofs, but a hardy band of four went to see what was about near the sea at Gartbreck (West of Bowmore).

A lovely family of goldfinch was the first delight on the fence, dropping down to feed on the seeds amongst the grass.  Lapwing and Oystercatcher were in the field and Oystercatchers and ringed plover along the shore, chicks lurking somewhere unseen.  Offshore were Eiders and hauled out on various rocks Common and Grey seals and we looked intently to determine which had a Spaniel face (common seal) or Labrador face (grey)?  The large roman nose of a male grey was easy to pick out.

Plants which greeted us were Sea Milkwort, in flower alongside Scurvy Grass and Sea Arrowgrass (which tasted like coriander).  Thrift is in its element at the moment and we had Sea Mayweed and Silverweed just coming into bloom.  In the areas above the high watermark were Birds-foot Trefoil and Ragged Robin, Hemlock Water Dropwort, Yellow Flag Iris and Yellow Rattle which was just showing its first flower.

Sea Mayweed
Sea Milkwort and Scurvy Grass
Further along the shore we were intercepted by two Arctic Tern probably nesting on the small islands just off shore, Redshank had chicks in the marshy field at the top of the shore as they called and alarmed, though we were far enough not to be any danger to their young.  Off shore we spotted two Shelduck families each with 5-6 young,

Following a tip off from Ian Brooke who had walked this section earlier in the day we were on the lookout for jellyfish, we found this impressive specimen washed up - Rhizostoma octopus, from the rusty colour of its tentacles it looked to be a female.  Mandy's feet are in the picture to give you a sense of scale to the size of it 60-70cm probably when fully floating.  Unfortunately such creatures are at the mercy of the currents and sadly this one will pulsate no more! 

Looking forward to next Sunday's walk at Sanaigmore
Fiona MacG

Islay Natural History Trust benefiting from your shopping!

Easyfundraising - Well done all our shopping supporters

Thank you to all those who are shopping via the Easyfundraising system and adopting the Islay Natural History Trust as the recipient to the donations from retail companies that you shop with.  

We have reached an amazing milestone in our donations from this system, a grand total of £2000 has now been received since this was set up and a good half of this in just the last couple of years.  there is no outlay on our part and none on yours, (unless of course shopping with Amazon and then you have to remember to link in via Easyfundraising - I sometimes forget!).

So thank you to that person who shopped last week, booked a holiday, or some major DIY gear to suddenly break the threshold of the £2k mark on our barometer.

If anyone is not yet signed up please consider doing so via this link as for everyone who signs up we get an extra £1 as well as the donation from your spending.

Tuesday 6 June 2017

Sundays Nature walk - The Ard, Port Ellen, Islay

Our first nature rAmble of 2017

Islay Natural History Trust - Wild About Nature

This summer's Islay Natural History Trust, Sunday Nature rAmbles got off to a slow start, I expect it was the heavy thundery shower that hit just before 2pm that put folk off , but it had cleared in Port Ellen.  Although there was no crowd waiting outside the Co-op to join the walk Mandy and I did take a lovely meander around the Ard to see what flowers were out, after a lunch stop at the Cyber cafe Bistro, which was an absolutely fantastic meal, more people should go, we were the only ones there!

The Ard is a great mix of grassland showing a woodland flora intermixed with heath over the rocky outcrops and bog/flush vegetation in the wet depressions in between, so much in such a small area.  So we were blessed with bluebells, dog-violet and pignut interspersed with the open grassland flowers of birds foot trefoil, milkwort, heath speedwell and tormentil to name but a few. Upon the rocks was stonecrop just coming into flower.  
Dog Violet, though digital camera interpretation of blue is shocking!

Ant pollinating? Pignut
 In the wet flushes common spotted orchids were unfurling their flower spikes, there was an abundant display of marsh cinquefoil and the yellow flags are at their best for the month of June. 
Marsh Cinquefoil

Common Spotted Orchid
 Despite the calm almost muggy day thankfully the midges were more interested in congregating on the yellow flag of the iris flowers.
Midges clustered on Iris Flag
Next Sunday we will be exploring the shoreline at Gartbreck, west of Bowmore, the tide is low with the chance for sea creatures amongst the rocks and we will investigate the seaweeds and other flora on the saltmarsh areas at the high tide line.  There is a small colony of common seal and I expect some waders to look out for.  We never walk far as there is usually so much to stop and look at, so whether you are an Ileach or a visitor please join us over the summer at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon we have a full programme which takes us to all corners of Islay at a nice sociable pace.

Fiona MacG