Nature Notes from Skye
(and occasionally other places)
Tue 25 May 2004
We start off with the animal kingdom today because I got my best insect pic since I started this diary, a female Large Red Damselfly.
The Small Heath butterfly is now on the wing (below left) but difficult to get close to and never stops in one place for long. The beetles on the right are Staphylinus erythropterus. They run around joined together by their rear ends, one running forward and the other backward.
The Green Tiger Beetle (below left) was very numerous today, doing short flights mixed with runs, walks, and occasional rests. On the right below is a young grasshopper, with antennae like horns.
This Garden Tiger Moth caterpillar was walking at great speed across the grass. Like the other large caterpillars on the site so far, it hibernates, and completes its growth by feeding on the fresh spring leafage. The Hawthorn gall contains small brown creatures that look like aphids with bits missing. They belong to the Dysaphis crataegi group.
The Mountain Everlasting is in flower now. Female plant on the left, male on the right. This species always seems to be accompanied by Creeping Willow. These were also with Birdsfoot Trefoil, Heather, Mouse-ear Hawkweed and Sea Plantain.
The Alternate-flowered Water Milfoil waves gently in the current (below left). I was very surprised to find a patch of Woodruff (below right) growing where it would receive full sun for several hours in the middle of the day, as shade is normally very important for this species.
I was doing my second BTO bird survey square today. Unlike the first one, it is moorland, but like the first one it yielded far fewer birds than at the same time last year, presumably because of the wind, which was pretty fierce in the uplands, though it was dead calm when I set out from home. Last year the square had many Skylarks audible or visible, this time none, though the Meadow Pipits were still active in numbers, and I was glad to get the Golden Plover and Stonechat on the list again. Here's a view of where I spent much of the day after coming down from the hill, and where the pictures were taken.