Monday, June 26, 2023

Moth Trapping Ardnamurchan.

Five nights of moth trapping at Arivegaig, Ardnamurchan produced this lot plus about a kilo of midgies in every trap! 

Broken barred Carpet

Brussels Lace

Clouded Buff

Crambus pascuella

Four dotted Footman

Foxglove Pug of the form hebudium

Grey Arches

Incurvaria praelatella ( lifer)

Large Emerald

Light Knot Grass

Orthotaenia undulana

Pebble Hook Tip

Sallow Kitten

Sandy Carpet

The Saxon

Shaded Pug ( lifer)

Silver Hook

Smoky Wave

Apotomis sororculana ( lifer)

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Holiday Heatwave.

 Where does the time go? Here we are almost a month since the last blog post on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Soon we will be Christmas shopping!

Anyway there are plenty of long days to enjoy before then so here I'll say a bit about our week in Scotland from 10th June.

Allt Beithe, Arivegaig, Acharacle and the track leading to the house in the trees.

We were staying, for the 7th time, in our usual house at Arivegaig, Acharacle. This may be our last time as it has been sold which is quite sad, we've enjoyed good times here, but it might still remain a holiday let. To be honest, it hasn't changed much in the 16 years we have been going so it could do with some upgrading, just not too much. If it were me, I would cater more for naturalists and wildlife observers as its an excellent spot, especially for its specialty, the Pine Martens.  There is a poor, triangle bird table that the martens love, but Id make a bigger more open one, as you will see soon, and install an outside light on the wall above the window to illuminate the scene in the dark. It would be great. As it happens, it barely gets dark in June, so back to the post.

I made a schoolboy error in forgetting my notebook ( what!) so I've relied on photos, sketchbooks and memory for all except the moths that were scribbled on scraps until we got home.

As for our week, I'm not sure the area has seen a spell of weather like it in a while being hot, sunny and calm all week and for the previous three weeks before ours too. The blanket bog surrounding the house, Kentra Moss, was very dry. This resulted in a dearth in the usual flora with not a single Heath Spotted Orchid, Sundew or Butterwort when in most years these are all plentiful. 

On a few days we made the mistake in going for walk somewhere not arriving until mid morning. By then it was already too warm for Peggy so it was quite frustrating. All week the temperatures were between 23 and 28 degrees averaging at 25 - 26 most of the daylight hours.  Insects were quite plentiful, mainly those that bite, with millions of midgies and clegs, of which my cleg list is now at 3 species... 

So, to the stars of the show. When we visit here we always manage some sightings of Pine Martens. If you saw last Septembers blog post, we had them nightly with Badgers and a Fox too. This week, there were no Badgers or Fox, but the Pine Marten had nested in the garden and was coming everyday with four of the finest kittens you could imagine. Providing we were indoors they had no fear of us at the window or talking. As it was hot, I kept water topped up so they could come and drink when they were too warm. In the evening I fed a muesli type of mix with soaked hedgehog biscuits, chopped soft dog meat, damped bread and jam, peanuts and sunflower hearts sometimes with some chopped fruit like apple strawberry or raspberry, what ever we had available. The family ate the lot with relish.  

During the day it would be quiet. The female would sneak a meal and a drink alone, but by 5pm we would hear the kits were out and about. What a commotion. scrapping and squeaking like jazz band kazoos then the lot would appear. You could never get sick of them. What a holiday highlight they were. Here we go with some pics and a video - 

If you can turn up the sound you'll hear kits calling for mum, and maybe a quiet profanity from Jane as one baby launches itself off the table onto the lawn!

To say I am pleased with the photos is an understatement. All taken through glass. The Arivegaig Pine Marten family.

They are a difficult act to follow to be honest so here are a few other odds and sods of wildlife interest and scenery from the week.

Top - Ardtoe, with Rum and Eigg in the background bottom, Kentra. 

May as well begin with these two bitey bastards. Top is a rare Golden Horsefly recovered from a spiders web, A very local species found in only a handful of locations in the UK. Bottom is the ever present and abundant Two lobed Deer Fly. There were also Notch horn Clegs all over too I can highly recommend using 'Smidge' repellant, I am very prone to all insect bites and only had about 20 small bites all week.

Butterflies were around but in the heat wouldn't settle for a shot. Around the house were a few Large Heath, in wooded areas and the moss were a few Small Pearl bordered Fritillaries and Peacocks, but although there were still a few Orange Tips on the wing, we didn't see any Chequered Skippers. They must have had an early season in the good weather.

We had a similar problem with Dragonflies. They just wouldn't rest other than one Gold ringed Dragon. We had lots of Four spotted Chasers too but dipped out on the Northern Emeralds that had been seen nearby a week earlier.

Gold ringed Dragonfly were common.

Above, Sanna on the Ardnamurchan.

Birds were few and far between, though we did have an imm White tailed Eagle at Fascadale and a nest with the female and a large youngster . One correctly dressed Rock Dove came into the house garden on one morning but no others were seen. At Ariundle 3 Wood Warblers were trilling while Tree Pipits parachuted over head.

 I ran the moth trap in the garden on 5 nights. There were two new species for me plus a nice showing of highland specials that I will put in a separate post to stop this one dragging on...

Physocephala nigra a rare large Conopid Fly almost an inch long.


Sunset from the garden.