Nature Notes from Argyll
(and occasionally other places)

Fri 20 Jul 2007 Mull

On the third day of my Mull visit I decided not to go on the day's BBS foray as I wanted to be sure of getting my ferry in the afternoon, also I was overwhelmed with the amount I'd learnt and couldn't really take in any more.  Instead I just mooched about Mull making my way slowly back to Craignure.

Thalictrum minus   Dasineura aparines gall on Galium aparine

Lesser Meadow-rue beside the River Ba.  Pic 2 shows Goosegrass galled by Dasineura aparines which creates a swollen bunched flowerhead with larval chambers inside.

Senecio sylvaticus   Senecio sylvaticus

From a distance I thought this 1 metre tall plant must be something like Canadian Fleabane and I was amazed to discover it was a giant Groundsel of some kind!  It turned out to be Heath Groundsel, which I've previously only ever seen as a small plant of the same stature as Common Groundsel.  When I got home I read in Blamey and Fitter "on fen tracks can grow to well over 1m, when it can be very puzzling".  These were on bare gravel between road and river.

Farewell to Mull

Farewell to Mull

Mon 30 Jul 2007 Inverawe

Yesterday found the first ripe blackberries.

Phyllonorycter quercifoliella leafmine on Quercus robur   Phyllonorycter quercifoliella leafmine on Quercus robur

The leaf-mine of the micro-moth Phyllonorycter quercifoliella on Oak, topside and underside.  The caterpillar had pupated within a cocoon that it wove in the fold of the mine and then covered with frass.  There were only shrivelled remains of the pupa, so either it had been attacked through the hole in the surface, or had successfully emerged as an adult moth and made the hole itself to get out.

Paidiscura pallens with egg-case and young   Paidiscura pallens adult female

Also on the underside of an oak leaf was this Sputnik Spider, Paidiscura pallens, with her brood just emerged from their egg-case.  The RH pic shows the mark on her back, which rather resembles the egg-case, though the spider is very variable and most don't have this mark.

Neuroterus quercusbaccarum, young galls of agamic generation   Ocypus olens

Young galls of Neuroterus quercusbaccarum are abundant on the underside of oak leaves now.  They lose the bright red colour when they get a bit older and become the familiar Common Spangle Gall.

To my surprise this beetle turned out to be the Devil's Coach-horse, one of the few insects I was familiar with in childhood.  It seemed a much larger creature than I remembered it; I would have expected the opposite to be the case.  I never saw it on Skye, though the NBN map shows it does occur that far north.

Fri 17 Aug 2007 Ben Lora

Erebia aethiops   Sympetrum nigrescens, male

The August explosion of Scotch Argus butterflies is upon us.  Here, as in Skye, the species is far more numerous in mid-August than any other butterfly at any time of year.  Also saw one second-brood Peacock.  The red dragonfly is a male Highland Darter.

Araneus diadematus, male   Russula sp

So often when I find an interesting-looking spider it turns out to be yet another version of the Garden Spider, Araneus diadematus.  It must be the yellow marks on the back that fooled me on this one, as they are usually white.  It's a male resting on Bracken.  The Russula fungi were in a mossy nook at the foot of an Eared Willow clump, on a hillside with no other trees around.  Despite knowing the host plant I couldn't ID them.  Their early fruiting and unusual location must be a clue, but how to use it?


All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer