This page details reports of some of our Highlands and Islands Branch trips and events. Please feel free to send in your event accounts or anecdotes! firstname.lastname@example.org
Glenborrodale RSPB reserve field trip, Ardnamurchan. June 15 2014
Following hot on the heels of the Carna Island field trip came another Ardnamurchan moth event. Four light traps were run at RSPB’s Glenborrodale oakwood reserve on the night of June 14. The following morning, seven folk met up to go through the traps.
A total of 58 macro-moth and 18 micro-moth species were recorded, a good night’s trapping.
Isle of Carna field-trip, June 2014
The Isle of Carna is a privately owned 600 acre island in Loch Sunart just off the Ardnamurchan peninsula. It is being managed for its wildlife and so the owner and boatman/caretaker invited us onto the island to find out what was there in the way of butterflies and moths.
Four of us were taken across to the island on the afternoon of Friday 13 June to set up a total of nine moth traps. Most were sited in the area of the three cottages on the south side of the island but with the help of a small boat, a few were set up in an area of birchwood along the coast to the west of the cottages. Different habitats were targeted with the aim of increasing the number of moth species caught. Traps were set in or near birchwood, pinewood, boggy willow scrub, flowery meadow, bog myrtle, saltmarsh, heather and general rough vegetation. The traps were fired up at dusk and we spent the night in one of the cottages. It was a perfect night for moths (and midges) – warm, calm and overcast. Incidentally, there is a cottage available to rent on the island - see the website: www.isleofcarna.co.uk.
We got up early in the morning to switch off and cover up the traps. A further eight folk came over on the morning of Saturday 14 June to see what was in the traps and have a wander to look for butterflies. There were so many moths in the traps that it took all day, with hardly a break, to go through them! A total of 76 macro-moths and 12 micro-moths were identified. Although it was mild, there was little sun and only 4 species of butterfly were seen – orange-tip, red admiral, green-veined white and small heath. Moth list below:
MACRO MOTHS MICRO MOTHS
barred red Argyresthia brockkeela
beautiful brocade Argyresthia goedartella
beautiful golden Y Caloptilia alchimiella
birch mocha Celypha lacunana
bordered white Chrysoteuchia culmella
bright-line brown-eye Crambus ericella
brimstone Crambus lathoniellus
broken-barred carpet Hellinsia tephradactyla
broom Mompha raschkiella
brown rustic Notocelia uddmanniana
brown silver-line Opostega salaciella
buff ermine Pandemis cerasana
common marbled carpet
common white wave
common/lesser common rustic
grey pine carpet
grey scalloped bar
red twin-spot carpet
small angle shades
small argent and sable
small clouded brindle
small dotted buff
true lover's knot
ROSEMARKIE CLIFFS Sunday 20 July 2014
Once again the forecast wasn’t promising, heavy rain and possible thunderstorms. However there were six of us who met at the seafront, hoping that it wouldn’t be too bad. It was slightly dull and overcast as we set out, but the clouds soon started to lift and it turned into a gloriously warm and sunny day.
We walked along the beach to start with seeing a Green-veined White, but soon turned onto a path which parallels the beach with farmland on the other side. As we walked along we saw a few Ringlets and Meadow Browns, a single Scotch Argus, Common Blue and Small Tortoiseshell as well as the micro moth Agriphila straminella and macro moths Shaded Broad-bar, Small Fan-footed Wave and Silver-ground Carpet amongst others.
The farmland soon gave way to rougher ground with hills beyond and we heard the sound of a Peregrine calling, probably a juvenile, and shortly afterwards saw three Peregrines flying overhead.
We reached the end of the path and took to the beach again with steeper slopes and cliffs to our left. We spotted a couple of fairly large Buddleia bushes and decided to push through the bracken covered slopes for a closer look.
It turned out to be a wise choice as we saw 8 species of butterfly around the lowest bush including Grayling, Speckled Wood, Large White and Red Admiral. After spending a while there, we moved on round the cliffs looking for suitable habitat for our target species, Northern Brown Argus.
At this point the going became a bit tougher, scrambling over rocks, and a couple of us lagged behind a bit. However we spotted a very small patch of Common Rockrose on the cliff, the larval foodplant of the Northern Brown Argus and a single adult.
We caught up with the others and after having lunch, when we saw a couple of Dolphins a fair distance off-shore, we re-traced our steps and had a good look at the cliff. We soon spotted more Common Rockrose and watched at least four Northern Brown Argus butterflies including a mating pair.
We returned the same way and added Small Heath to our butterfly list making a total of twelve species, certainly the most I’ve seen on any butterfly walks.
Northern Brown Argus
Small Fan-footed Wave
Common Rustic agg
Large Yellow Underwing
Mother of Pearl
Others: Cardinal Beetles, Seven-spot Ladybirds, Robin's Pincushion Gall
MOTH MANIA – RSPB INSH MARSHES - JULY 26
This was a joint BC & RSPB moth-trapping event with a two-fold objective. Firstly, it was part of annual monitoring of the rare Dark Bordered Beauty moth, RSPB Insh Marshes being one of only three Scottish sites where this species is found. Secondly, it gave members of the public a chance to see this gorgeous moth, along with many other species.
About 20 people attended and they split into three groups, with Tom Prescott (BC), Mike Taylor (County moth recorder) and Pete Moore (RSPB Warden) as the leaders. Each group looked through two moth traps that had been run the night before. It had been very mild and calm the previous night – good conditions for moths – and there were about 50 moth species in each trap. The full species list will be added to this report in due course but in addition to Dark Bordered Beauty, highlights included Blue-bordered Carpet and Slender Brindle, the latter very scarce this far north.
After lunch, a smaller group walked the Invertromie trail to look for butterflies but the long hot sunny spell of weather that we had been enjoying for the previous week decided to end now. It became cloudy and a bit breezy but it remained warm though and butterflies continued to be active in sheltered places. During the day we saw Dark Green and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Small Tortoiseshell, Northern Brown Argus, Scotch Argus, Small Heath and Green-veined White. Moth highlight of the walk was Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk moth larva spotted by the eagle-eyed James Hammond.
Thanks go to the RSPB Insh Marshes volunteers who helped put the moth traps out the day before and then cover them up early on the morning of the event.
Mountain Ringlet at Meall Liath 15 July 2014
This trip was postponed from the weekend due to unsuitable weather. The forecast for Tuesday the 15th looked promising, so it was decided to go ahead with it even though there would only be two of us going.
We walked up a forest track climbing steadily through the trees until we left the track and started a steeper climb alongside a burn which runs down the middle of a grassy ride between the trees. I found an ordinary Ringlet in the grass by the side of the burn, so at least one butterfly was about.
We got to the top of the treeline without finding anything else and went through a gate to start searching the area where the butterflies have been seen previously. The wind was a lot stronger this high up with quite a cold edge to it; it was also quite cloudy with occasional sunny spells.
Despite searching extensively for a couple of hours, all that was seen was a Grey Mountain Carpet moth and a Small Heath butterfly. As we were sitting eating lunch, I spotted a few Heather Flies – Bibio pomonae. We resumed searching after lunch for a short while, but found nothing so decided to head back down.
On the way back down the side of the burn, I spotted a brown butterfly low down in the grass, thinking it was probably just a Ringlet, I knelt down for a closer look just in case. Success at last, it was a slightly tatty Mountain Ringlet!
After we admired it for a few minutes and I took some photos, we carried on downhill searching carefully, but all we saw were a couple more Small Heaths, a Ringlet and the micro moth Udea lutealis.
When we were just a few minutes away from the car, I spotted an Adder curled up in short vegetation by the side of the track, the first one I’ve ever seen.
Full species list;
Butterflies; Moths; Others;
Mountain Ringlet Grey Mountain Carpet Adder
Ringlet Udea lutealis Common Frog
Small Heath Heather Fly
Moth Night 2014 at Spinningdale 5th July
As in 2012, five battery operated traps were set at various points on the Woodland Trust’s Ledmore and Migdale Woods property. This time they were within 400m of the recently constructed shelter at Torry Croft. Unfortunately the weather overnight was clear, with a half moon and was decidedly cool (Fay Wilkinson had recorded just 5 degrees in her garden a few miles away). As a result the number of moths caught was very limited.
The event was billed as a joint Butterfly Conservation/Woodland Trust one and Juliet Robinson was the official Woodland Trust representative promoting the event locally and providing the signage and First Aid backup on the day. As it turned most of the participants were Highland Branch members and there were 10 of us in all (two other folk, who were actually holidaying at Loch Carron, had unfortunately underestimated the time needed for travelling and only met up with us as we were departing.)
It was very much a case of spinning things out with chat and as everyone knew everyone it ended up as an enjoyable social get together even though there were only 25 moths of just 10 species! Even then two Chestnut-coloured Carpets were of particular interest as even some of the seasoned moth recorders had not seen one before.
Species list No.
Silver-ground Carpet 2
Northern Spinach 4
Chestnut-coloured Carpet 2
Green Carpet 2
Magpie Moth 1
Mottled Beauty 5
Barred Red 1
True Lover's Knot 3
Ingrailed Clay 4
Smoky Wainscot 1
Tony Mainwood July 2014
Balintore & Shandwick 2 July 2014
Despite a very poor forecast eight people gathered at the meeting place in Balintore. Just before we set out, there was a light shower of rain which luckily was brief and then it stayed fair for the rest of the walk. It was however, dull, overcast and very windy, not the best weather for seeing butterflies and moths.
We persevered and after walking along a path just above the beach, we crossed a fence into a grassy area which was more sheltered. We hoped we’d have more chance of seeing butterflies here. Our party was joined by another two people at this point and we saw a couple of Ringlets and a Meadow Brown. We also found some Robin’s Pincushion galls on Dog Rose, the galls are formed after the gall wasp Diplolepis rosae lays it’s eggs in a bud in the spring.
We crossed back over a stile near a bench with a Bus Stop sign and started walking along a narrow path through some very high vegetation; the bracken was taller than me in places! (5 foot 6 inches)! It was tricky going as it is narrow and steep in places. On some of the more open areas there were plenty of interesting plants, Common Rockrose, Biting Stonecrop, Wild Thyme and Carline Thistle, but no butterflies although a Snout Moth was seen as was a Yellow Shell.
We eventually came back onto the beach near a spring called Tobar na Slainte, or The Well of Health. Unfortunately the stonework surrounding the well was damaged in winter storms in 2012. We stopped there for lunch as it was fairly sheltered from the wind.
We returned the same way but saw a few more butterflies and moths on the way back, including a Speckled Wood, a Six-spot Burnet, more Ringlets and Meadow Browns and a very small Poplar Hawk-moth caterpillar.
Full Species List;
Butterflies; Moths; Others;
Meadow Brown Poplar Hawk-moth larva Seven-spot Ladybird
Ringlet Six-spot Burnet
Speckled Wood Snout
LYNWILG, ALLT NA CRICHE PATH - Sat 17 May
Many thanks Audrey for your directions.
Before the Scripture Union building I heard a singing male Pied Flycatcher. & got to see it. I was really pleased with myself that I recognised the song after not hearing it for many years. I also watched the parachute display of Tree Pipit. & heard Cuckoo.
I managed to take some lovely movie footage on my mobile fone of close-up of a common shrew on the tarmac road. Stunning wee creature.
The day was breezy & overcast & chilly. So, although there was no bright sunshine Common Heath moths were especially active & abundant above the tree line. I was intrigued to notice how variable specimens were in tones. Regrettably no Pearl-bordered Fritillary’s were observed.
At 2pm it started to drizzle. So, back at Aviemore for 3.30
Sadly, no-one else turned up at the meeting point. I had the day to myself. It was just me. Nonetheless, I had a really wonderful wildlife walk.
Silverdale, 23 - 26th May 2014. A small group of Highland Branch members had a most successful weekend away in Silverdale, South Cumbria.
On their first day the Chairman of the Cumbria Branch very kindly took us to the best places to discover butterflies & moths in this area of outstanding natural beauty. Each site visited exhibited a very different precious landscape. & he could have recommended another 10!!! sites. However, that was enough to keep our group busy. The good news was that they’re all very close. No long drives. & all very accessible. Some we could easily ‘self-guide’. However, we were immensely grateful for his tips at other sites.
The following day we went to a very favourable site in search of Duke of Burgundy Fritillary – & were successful in seeing this very attractive wee insect, together with Dingy Skipper. For some the highlight was observing a spectacular long horn moth – Nemophora degeerella. The male was especially stunning.
After their evening meal the group were given a power-point presentation on the re-establishment of colonies of Marsh Fritillary in Cumbria. Finishing up with some breath-taking magic !!! (Marsh Fritillary pictured at top of page, photo by Ewan Munro)
The following day the Highland Branch group joined the Cumbria Branch for their AGM + various talks. However, the first event was the opening of moth traps. & some real delights were to be observed (list to follow). Moreover, as part of the day we walked a number of a farmer’s fields where in the sunshine literally dozens of Marsh Fritillaries were freshly emerging. Awesome. & some were lucky to see Forester moths too.
Later that same day we were taken to a brown field site – wind factory – & got to see Small Blues & Wall Browns, amongst others butterflies.
Our last day we explored a site with panoramic views shown to us on that first afternoon. Here, Fritillaries were flitting about. At first the consensus was they were Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries. Then we were challenged by a another butterfly enthusiast’s photo taken minutes earlier. From his snap he was convinced they were Pearl-bordered Fritillaries. Ahhhhhh well. A Green Hairstreak was spotted as well as a small number of female Brimstones butterflies & at least one male.
All in all a wonderful sojourn. & thanks to the party’s convivial company.