Nature Notes from Argyll
(and occasionally other places)

Mon 3 Sep 2007 Inverawe

Lycaena phlaeas form caeruleopunctata   Atolmis rubricollis caterpillar

I was delighted to find this Small Copper, the first I've seen in Scotland, which displayed for as long as I cared to watch it.  It was very active but seemed happy to stay in the same small area, visiting flowers of Dandelion, Devilsbit Scabious, and several of Autumn Hawkbit, in between landing on Sorrel leaves (where it may have been laying eggs, since this is the foodplant) and on other items such as the stone in the picture.  It belongs to the form caeruleopunctata, with blue spots above the orange band on the hindwing.

Other butterflies still about are mostly Peacocks and Speckled Woods.

The Caterpillar on Wood False Brome is that of the Red-necked Footman moth, whose adult we had on 27 May

Oxyloma elegans probably   Oxyloma elegans probably   Zonitoides excavatus probably

Also on Wood False Brome was this snail which has to be a juvenile Oxyloma elegans unless by chance it's Succinea putris occurrng further north than any existing record.  Either way it's the Amber Snail in English.  The first picture shows it in situ and the second, still on its blade of grass, moved to a nearby log.  It's odd how often a snail will stick its head out when disturbed; you'd expect it to withdraw further into its shell.

The third picture is of a snail on the lichen Peltigera hymenina in woodland, and its identification has been very difficult.  It has a huge umbilicus on the underside reaching right up into the spire, which means it can only be Discus rotundatus or Zonitoides excavatus.  The former is commoner but I'm going for the latter as the ribs don't seem substantial enough for Discus, and there is no sign of alternating bands of colour on the shell.

Eriophyes similis gall on Prunus spinosa   Coccinella 7-punctata

Galls of the mite Eriophyes similis on Blackthorn, and my first "normal" ladybird seen on the West Coast, a 7-spot Ladybird on a Dock leaf.

Picromerus bidens   Dolichonabis limbatus

The Spiny Shieldbug. Picromerus bidens, crawling around on Bracken.  It's one of the four carnivorous Shieldbug species in Britain, feeding mainly on the larvae of moths, butterflies and beetles.  The insect on the underside of a nettle leaf is the Marsh Damsel Bug, Dolichonabis limbatus.

Sympetrum nigrescens - female

We had the red male Highland Darter on 17 Aug; here is the female.

Sympetrum danae - female

And here for comparison is the female Black Darter.  The central black triangle on the thorax is an important ID feature

Mon 10 Sep 2007 Gleann Salach

Saw two late faded Scotch Argus today, one of which flew into a spider's web but managed to free itself.  Peacocks still about.

Ceramica pisi caterpillar - brown form   Nicrophorus vespilloides

The other day we had the green form of the Broom Moth; this is the brown form.  It may be an age-related colour change, but I think more likely there are two separate forms.  The head and legs are usually bluish on the green form and pinkish on the brown form.  They seem to eat almost anything; this one is on Sitka Spruce.

The Common Sexton Beetle, Nicrophorus vespilloides, was taking time off from burying dead mice to climb a few grass blades.

Tortella tortuosa   Tortella tortuosa

A new dry-stone-wall moss for me, Tortella tortuosa.  The close-up shows how contorted the leaves are.  The purple stuff is the liverwort Frullania tamarisci which grows happily within the moss cushion but stops when it reaches the surface - despite being a common plant out in the open in many other situations.


All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer