Nature Notes from Skye
(and occasionally other places)
Sun 5 Sep 2004
Dry, mostly sunny, no midges. Parked at Glenhinnisdale bridge and walked along the riverbank, downstream. I hoped this walk would provide some good insects. as the area was alive with them earlier in the year (see 25 May).
This tricoloured sawfly larva was on Devilsbit Scabious when I first saw it, then of its own volition it moved to this grass blade, crawled to the top, waved around looking for something else to climb onto, and, on finding nothing within reach, turned round to go back down again. The brown "woolly bear" on Bracken is a Ruby Tiger. Quite short and stumpy compared to other woolly bear types.
I found this Bright-line Brown-eye caterpillar on my rucksack when I stopped for lunch. Later in the day I found another one of the same kind, on grass among Bracken. The grey and orange one on the right is the Buff-tip Moth caterpillar on a Hazel twig.
Also on Hazel was this final instar nymph of the Hawthorn Shield Bug. Hazel is one of its food plants. On the right is a Harvestman which ran onto my boot. Possibly Mitopus morio.
At last I caught up with the Common Hawker dragonfly. As usual, this one saw me before I saw it, and took to the air as I approached, but to my surprise it quickly settled on a fencepost. Perhaps the weather was too dull at that moment for hawking. So here it is in full view and in close-up, just to show how close I got. In fact I was able to touch it and it still didn't fly away. The long pursuit is at an end.
When I was here in May the Hawthorns were covered in white blossom, now they are red with fruit. In the damper areas there are patches of this mint which is either Corn Mint or its hybrid with Water Mint, its characters are inconsistent so I won't commit myself.
These galls on Meadowsweet, with the remarkable pointed flaps on the underside, contain the larvae of the fly Dasineura ulmaria.
We have now reached the sea, and the luxuriant silvery shoots of Creeping Willow subspecies argentea cascade down a coastal rockface. Like most willows, it has its galls, in this case caused by the sawfly Pontania collactanea.
A Shag was fishing in the river mouth, in what must have been almost salt-free water. On a spit of rock on the far side of the river stood a line of gulls, of which the end one, an immature Herring or Black-backed Gull, endlessly issued a plaintive cry almost exactly like that of a Golden Plover. Flora MacDonald's last home was here; the walls still stand, supporting fine specimens of the Black Spleenwort fern. White tufts of cloud move slowly, changing shape as they go, over Lynedale, Greshornish, Dunvegan Head, and break up somewhere over Uist, where the blue of eternity begins.
All photos and other content copyright © Carl Farmer