Nature Notes from Argyll
(and occasionally other places)
Sun 13 Jul 2008 near Oban
This female Emerald Damselfly is an unusual individual on two counts. It has a very pale pterostigma, and it rests with wings folded over the abdomen, not half-open like a normal Emerald.
Sun 20 Jul 2008 Degnish
A Grayling butterfly. They are quite frequent at the moment, usually on coastal rocks. This one was about 200 m inland and 40 m altitude, probably the furthest from the sea that I've seen one.
Tue 22 Jul 2008 Torsa
Torsa is an island off the coast of Luing, with no permanent inhabitants. The vegetation was interesting but the weather was rather wet. This is part of a fine stand of Fragrant Agrimony. There was another like it elsewhere on the island, on flatter ground. They were the most substantial stands of this plant that I'd seen.
A notable feature of the island was the extraordinary amount of Bog Pimpernel, a plant I've not seen elsewhere in Argyll. There were numerous large patches of it in the extensive marshes around the island's edges. Acid bog plants were quite scarce. For instance, despite the wet ground all the Spotted Orchids on the west side of the island were Common Spotted, not Heath Spotted.
Cinnabar Caterpillars were quite common on Marsh Ragwort, but the one in the picture was well away from its foodplant and was perhaps looking for somewhere to pupate. I've not seen them in Argyll other than on Luing and Torsa. We had the adult moth in Kent last year.
Here's a closer view of the Lion's Mane Jellyfish, which we had from a distance a few weeks ago. These were in shallow water at the foot of rocks. The second one was lying upside down, as shown. I think the red bulging bits are its "arms", and the silvery clusters round the edge are its tentacles, which are far longer than its arms and in large specimens can reach over 100 ft, making it one of the longest animals in existence. See Wikipedia for more on this fascinating creature. Not sure what the sand-coloured material is, but I can see several faces in it.
Fri 25 Jul 2008 Ardmaddy
Dark Green Fritillary and Scotch Argus. The current butterfly situation from my post to the SNHG forum: "Scotch Argus are emerging now and the summer generation of Small Tortoiseshell; have seen several of both in last two days. Dark Green Fritillaries are plentiful at the moment, replacing the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary which was common in June but seems to have vanished now. Speckled Wood, Common Blue, Meadow Brown and Green-veined White are all common at present. Small Heath seems to be past its peak. Have also seen 3 Ringlets and a Grayling this week. The summer generations of Peacock, Red Admiral and Small Copper should appear soon." In reply the Red Admiral was reported as already sighted.
The Common Green Grasshopper is frequently heard and seen at present. This one was basking on the vertical side of a stone. The fungi on a dead Rowan branch in a gorge where they must get flooded at times are the very tough and rubbery Polyporus badius.
These young frogs (or possibly toads?) were experimenting with life on land. Don't worry, guys, in this part of the world it's not a lot drier than life in water. The plant in the RH pic had me puzzled for a while, despite strong clues nearby. It looked like one of those aquatic rosette plants such as Shoreweed or Quillwort, but from some of the rosettes there was a long stalk leading to a leaf-blade. Eventually it dawned on me that these are seedlings of Broad-leaved Water Plantain.
And here is the clue: large stands of the mature plant in the same pond. The flowers are a bit past their best to human eyes but still attractive to the hoverfly Platycheirus albimanus.
Small Pondweed (left) occupied parts of the pond, its
tangled stems with leaves no wider than themselves turning up at the tips to
project the fruit-spikes out of the water. Red Pondweed (right), with much
broader leaves, was also present, as was the common Jointed Pondweed.
All photos and other content copyright © Carl Farmer