Latest Sightings - Highlands and Islands

Swallow-tailed Moth by Tony Mainwood

Details of unusual or unseasonal sightings are especially welcome for inclusion on this page. Please send your contributions to  . We would greatly appreciate it if you could include grid references where possible.

Highland Branch welcomes contributions not just from Highland and Moray, but from the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland.

Items from 2007 to 2013 have been archived, but can still be accessed on the old branch website:

Note: Sightings marked with * mean they are newly received though may be temporarilly not in date order in the list below, so can be easily noticed.


3 November 2015. Thanks again to Pete Moore for the following: "Two Red Admirals nectaring on perennial wallflower in our garden today." 

1 November 2015. Many thanks to Pete Moore for the following: "Hilary and myself had three different sightings of Red Admiral near Marypark (Moray) today - great to get butterfly records into November!! Also a sighting of Vapourer moth (a day-flier)."

20 October 2015: Many thanks to Pete Moore for sending in the following: "Two Red Admirals recorded by Hilary Swift on October 20th nectaring on perennial wallflower in her Grantown on Spey garden. This wallflower has been flowering now for at least four months, during which time it has been host to numerous nectaring insects, including a Hummingbird Hawkmoth on July 11th. Strongly recommended!!"

31 August 2015  Many thanks to Pete Moore for this record: two hummingbird hawkmoths seen by the Birkby family in their garden in Kingussie today 31st Aug.

28 August 2015 Many thanks to Alistair Noakes for the following sightings: 

1) On Eriskay – map ref: 793098 1 grayling and 2 common blues – one male and one female. I can positively identify the grayling by both its flight and the standard way it perched wings closed and learnt to the side to catch the warmth of the sun.  It was but 10 yards from the edge of the water as were the blues.

2) On South Uist, on Askernish Golf Course – map ref: 728235 a Dark Green Fritilliary.  Again I can positively identify as i picked it up and examined it in my hand. They use no  fertilisers on the  golf course and the rough was a mass of wild flowers quite majestic.

23 August 2015 Many thanks to Mike Taylor for a lovely record of nine Painted Lady butterflies amongst the ten species of butterfly he and Britt saw at Lossiemouth today.

23 August 2015. Many thanks to Graham Crittendenden for the following: The night of the 23 August was exceptional for moths and included 3 migrant Great Brocades trapped at Melvich up on the north coast.

22 August 2015 Many thanks to Alison Stables for the following: A Scotch Annulet that was attracted to her trap on 22 Aug 2015, VC104 Lower Milovaig, Isle of Skye. On the same night she also caught 48 Dark Arches and the first autumnal Rustics of the year.

7 August 2015 Many thanks to Brian Neath for the following report: 

"August got off to a good start for moths with a catch of 225 moths of 52 species on the 3rd.  That was in my garden in Dornie.  The highlight was the first record of Swallow-tailed Moth for West Ross.  The catch also included 6 more Satin Lutestrings, still the only site where this species has been recorded in the vice-county.

 25 Common Carpets and 16 Dark Arches were the most numerous species."

4 August 2015 Many thanks to Brian Neath for the following report:

"After the disappointing months of June and July for moths it was a bit of a shock to have 223 moths of 51 species on the 3rd August.  The highlight was a Swallow-tailed Moth which was the first for the West Ross/Skye recording areas.

Common Carpet was the most numerous species with 25.  Satin Lutestring continues to establish itself in Lochalsh with a further 6.  The Nationally Scarce Na Barred Carpet is regular in this area and the first 5 of the year were present in this catch.  After a slow start to their season four species of Yellow Underwings were represented including the least common in this area, the Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing.

The late season resulted in first August records of Broom Moth and Bright-line Brown-eye."


19 July 2015. Many thanks to Brian Neath for the following report: "I had a record of a Red-necked Footman from David Geddes at Leacanashie, North Strome on 30th June - the first record for VC105.  Incredibly just two weeks later on 14th July Steve Terry reported the first for Skye on 14th July in Sleat." 

11 July 2015. A great sighting of Hummingbird Hawkmoth in Grantown-on-Spey outside their back door nectaring on Bowles Mauve Wallflower. Thanks to Hilary Swift for this record!

9 July 2015. Many thanks for this record from A. Parkin of a Hummingbird Hawkmoth seen for the first time on 9th July feeding on sage bushes for the last three days.  Location Brora, Sutherland.


6 July 2015: Many thanks to Neil Money for the following reports: Three records of Hummingbird Hawkmoth in Caithness over the last few days:
3rd July 1 Ulbster per Jane Erridge
6th July 1 Watten per Calvin Wilson
6th July 1 Reay per Eric Maughan
There are only 5 previous records from the County, the last in 2011


19 May 2015. Pete Moore had a lovely sighting of a Narrow-bordered Bee Hawkmoth nectaring on violets at Insh Marshes today.

6 May 2015. Many thanks to Dot and Ron Ruston for their report of their first sighting of a Dingy Skipper for this season in their Polmaily transect, section 5.

4 May 2015. Many thanks to Mike Taylor for this record of Small Dark Yellow Underwing: "Following on from yesterdays Small Dark Yellow Underwing find at a new site near Aviemore by Gus Jones, I found two more on a post in-cop. at the site above Carrbridge this afternoon (04/05/2015). They were low down on the fence post and seen to shift around the post to stay in the sun.."

24 April 2015. Many thanks to Michael Taylor for the following record: " Britt and I found two Small Dark Yellow Underwings on Friday 24th April, the last afternoon of the warm period before winter returned. They were crawling around and under small patches of bearberry beside the road approximately one kilometre NW of the southern tip of Lochindorb. This is a new site for the species, and it was a relatively early date for them so not what we were expecting to find, our target, Netted Mountain Moth has yet to put in an appearance. Unfortunately the camera was in the car, not a mistake I would normally make."

22 April 2015. Many thanks to Barbara Brodie for her sightings today: Orange Tip, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock.

17 April 2015 Many thanks to Anke Addy for sending in an early sighting of an Orange-tip in their garden in Tarland, Aboyne. 

9 April 2015. Many thanks to Katherine Bell for the following records of butterflies seen between 5 - 9 April. . 

2 Peacock butterflies, NH 642 568, 05/04/2015
1 Red Admiral, NH 650 564, 05/04/2015  -  Black Isle
1 Peacock butterfly, NH 650 562, 09/04/2015
1 Small Tortoiseshell, NH 650 562, 09/04/2015

8 April 2015. A male Orange-tip was spotted in Strathpeffer by Murdo MacDonald. Many thanks for the record Murdo! 


6 April 2015. Peacock butterfly found in garage at Croy and released into the sunshine.

5 April 2015. Several Small Tortoishell records from the hot sunny day today, including at Croy, Carrbridge, Culloden, Loch Insh.

3 April 2015. Many thanks to Brian Neath for some recent moth records. He reports that he had another good catch on 3rd April with 64 moths of 12 species. Mostly the usual suspects but 3 Twin-spotted Quakers was the highlight. Only recorded for the first time in West Ross in 2013 with two records of single moths. The same again in 2014 with two singles so to have three on one night is another step forward for this species. All records so far are from his Dornie site so it will be interesting to see whether it turns up elsewhere. 

31 March 2015. Many thanks to Brian Neath for the following moth records for March: He says, "Despite the generally grim weather during March I managed to record 15 species of macro-moth.  I only had the trap out twice but also saw several species at our lighted windows at Dornie.  These included Yellow Horned, March Moth, Autumn Green Carpet, Brindled Pug, Engrailed, Small Quaker, Red Sword-grass and Early Grey." He also received details of 3 Orange Underwing at Leitir Fura on Skye and another near Lochcarron.  These were seen by David Mason and are only the second records of this species for Skye and West Ross respectively.

*13 March 2015. A Rannoch Sprawler was trapped in Invermoriston on 13th March 2015 by Doug Gilbert. Whilst this was one of only two moths in the trap it was a first record for the species in the NH41 10km square.

15 March 2015. Many thanks to Mark Wynn for his first moth records for the season. He had four moths in his light-trap: 2 x Common Quaker, Clouded Drab and Chestnut.

14 March 2015. Many thanks to Mark Wynn for the first butterfly sighting of the year - a Peacock on a warm and sunny afternoon today at Strathvaich NH 385 732

8 February 2015. The first butterfly sighting of the year was a Peacock sighted at 2pm in warm and sunny conditions today OS map #21 649727. Many thanks to Kim Dawson for the record.



Records for 2014 below this line.

31 August 2014   Many thanks to Barry Blake for this interesting report! "With just three or four previous records for VC105, an overnight catch of 200+ Coast Darts in a single actinic trap at Firemore Beach (near Gairloch in West Ross) on 14 August came as a surprise. It was not a fluke – Barry Blake and Norman Thomas have trapped the same site three times since up to 26 August and never come up with less than 50. Added interest included a trio of worn Archer’s Darts and a small percentage of White-lined Darts. Many thanks to Roy Leverton for his essential advice and guidance on identification. The search continues for the elusive Portland Moth."

9 July 2014 Many thanks to Tony Mainwood for sending in a record of a Swallow-tailed Moth (picture top right)! Tony says: "It was attracted to an MV light last night but was found on the wall of the house rather than in the trap in the garden in Golspie when I went out this morning. The only records in Highland seen to be a handful in the far SW. There is one record from Shetland but otherwise this is the furthest north in Scotland."

30 June 2014 Many thanks to Graham Crittenden for sending in this report: "I was recently sent a moth recording list from an English visitor to Lochinver this June. Among the moths trapped was a Cinnabar which is a first for VC108 and the most northerly record aside from an Orkney record. As the visitor was unaware of the scarcity of Cinnabar in the north he was pleased to hear that it was a first for Sutherland. Graham Crittenden VC108 CMR"

19 June 2014 Many thanks to Malcolm Harvey for sending in his record of a Silvery Arches moth which he had in his trap at Kiltarlity on 19 June.This is only the 5th record ever for this area to the west of the Great Glen and the first since 1988.

10 June 2014 Many thanks to Ann Wickens for her report of a Humming-bird Hawk Moth seen in Fortrose on valerian, on the evening of 10th june 2014! The record is confirmed by Tom Prescott. Grd ref: 727564.

4 June 2014 Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk moth seen by Elisabeth Longley near Grantown on June 4th.

24/25 May 2014. Pete Moore has sent in the following interesting salutary tale: "On the weekend of May 24/25 myself and Hilary Swift drove across to Kinloch Hourn on the west coast. It was sunny weather so between Glen Garry and Kinloch Hourn we stopped off here and there along the roadside and recorded whatever butterflies we saw. Plenty of Green Hairstreaks but otherwise nothing remarkable. At the end of the trip I sent the records to David Barbour - the Highland butterfly recorder. I recently heard back from David to learn that I had six new 10km square records for the current 5-year recording period of the "Butterflies of the New Millenium" recording project. However, even more amazing was the fact that three of those records were completely new 10km records for the 20 years that the scheme has been running! The three species in question were Green-veined White, Orange-tip and Green Hairstreak. It just goes to show that even very common species are worth recording, especially in under-populated areas. Never assume that someone else has recorded the common species!"

24 May 2014 Another Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk moth has been sighted by Pete Moore, this time at Kinloch Hourn on the west coast! He also saw Green Hairstreaks at various places along the road from Glen Garry to Kinloch Hourn, May 24 and 25.

19 May 2014 Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk moth spotted by Pete Moore at Insh Marshes

15 May 2014 Many thanks to Tom Prescott for this news:  First Chequered  Skipper of the year seen at Glasdrum under the wayleave yesterday (14 May) and possible sighting near Strontian – so their season has started.

12 May 2014 Another sighting of a Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk moth, many thanks to David Lambie for the record! Also a Comma was seen the same day in the same garden near The Heather Centre between Aviemore and Grantown.

7 May 2014 A Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk moth was seen in the garden of Aileen Fox near Nethybridge.

3 May 2014 Numerous whites spotted by Dean MacAskill while walking along the river Nairn, mostly Green-veined but also lots of Orange-tip.

3 May 2014 Red Admiral sighted by Suzanne Gyseman on a bike ride in Assich Forest today, along with 6 Speckled Wood, a Peacock and at least 3 Green-veined Whites..

2 May 2014 Many thanks to Dean MacAskill for his wonderful list of sightings in Culbin Forest today. In an hour and a half, walking through Culbin forest, he spotted 42 Speckled wood, 12 Peacock, 8 Orange tip. 2 Green veined white, 1 Tortoiseshell and a Green Hairstreak!

28 April 2014 Many thanks to Pete Moore for his records of a fantastic SIX species of butterfly seen while walking from North Kessock to Munlochy Bay via Kilmuir today (28 Apr) - Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Orange-tip, Green-veined White, Speckled Wood and Small Copper.

27 April 2014  Many thanks to Steve Terry for his record of a Green Hairstreak spotted near Ord on the Isle of Skye on 27th April.

25 April 2014 An interesting record has just come in from Barry Blake who caught a V-pug in Inverewe Gardens on 25 April. Barry says "Neither I nor Tony Mainwood (my accomplice) had seen this beast before, and it is apparently the most northerly record for this species to date. Brian Neath has no record north of Lochalsh." Barry's photo of the V-pug can be seen on our branch facebook page at

24 April 2014 An exciting record has been sent in by Nigel Richards, of two specimens of Ethmia pyrausta which he found in a confidential site in Strathcarron (VC106) on 24th April 2014, East Ross, at an altitude of approx 350m.

Nigel says: "This is only the 5th British record of this moth. It was first discovered in 1853 on the banks of the River Shin and then rediscovered in 1996 in the Cairngorms, since when single specimens were found at Loch Vrotachan in Aberdeenshire in 2001 and near Loch Morie in 2008."

26 March 2014 Many thanks to Barbara Brodie for her report of the first Peacock butterfly for the season on 26th March 2014.

24 March 2014 The first Small Tortoiseshell of the season reported by Suzanne Gyseman near Inverness.

12 March 2014 Many thanks to Brian Neath for sending in his report of his first decent moth catch of the year in Wester Ross on 12th March. He recorded 35 Mottled Grey, 14 Common Quaker, 8 Yellow Horned, 6 March Moth, 3 Red Sword-grass, 2 Clouded Drab, 2 Chestnut, an Early Grey and a Hebrew Character.

Brian says that this was interesting because one of his regular Skye recorders had nothing on the same night and another recorder, Barry Blake, didn't have his trap out as the weather was so poor in Gairloch.

27 Jan 2014 Brian Neath reported his first January record for Mottled Grey on 27th in Wester Ross, adding that he has often recorded Mottled Grey during the first week of February but the emergence seems to vary considerably from year to year.

Brian said that the Rothampstead records for Wester Ross show a few January records from Beinne Eighe, for example 24th January 1989 and 27th January 1992, yet in some years it was not recorded until March.

Brian reports that he had his first significant catch for the year on 24th February, with 2 March Moth, 8 Dotted Border, 7 Pale Brindled Beauty and 3 Chestnut. Though, strangely no Mottled Grey!

19 Jan 2014   Thanks to Nigel Richards for sharing this very early record of a Mottled Grey, found at an outside light in Kildary, East Ross. Nigel added that its appearance was at least a month earlier than is usual for the area.