Nature Notes from Argyll
(and occasionally other places)

Tue 28 Apr 2009 Kilmartin

Arctia caja larva   Saturnia pavonia, female

This month's Seil Natural History Group recording walk took us to Kilmartin where local resident Alan Hawkins led us on a route around Barr Mor on a fine spring day.  This Garden Tiger caterpillar was one of many that we met with, and Drinkers too were plentiful.  The female Emperor Moth at rest on the heather had probably newly emerged from its cocoon.

Euphydryas aurinia larva   Petrophora chlorosata

A single Marsh Fritillary caterpillar was found.  They are not otherwise known from this location.  I wonder how far an individual caterpillar can travel; it surely can't have been hatched too far away, but where exactly is a mystery.  The Brown Silver-line moth is common in May and June; it was the first I'd seen this year.

Arianta arbustorum   Deroceras reticulatum

Copse Snails were out in numbers, and a Netted Slug slithered through the grass.  A Brown-lipped Banded Snail was also seen.  Wolf Spiders were running about everywhere.  The first 7-spot Ladybird of the year was spotted, and several Dor Beetles.

Formica lemani colony   Philonotis fontana

A colony of the ant Formica lemani found under a stone.  Lasius flavus was also found.  The moss with the apple-like capsules is Philonotis fontana.

Omphalina fulvopallens, fruitbodies   Omphalina fulvopallens, thallus

This is the mushroom Omphalina fulvopallens, which is actually a lichen.  At its base are green bobbles, shown in the RH pic through the microscope.  These are the lichen thallus and contain algae.  Most lichens are ascomycetes and have fruitbodies like miniature cup fungi (the familiar apothecia) but this one is a basidiomycete, so its fruitbody is a whopping great mushroom.

Adoxa moschatellina   Chrysosplenium alternifolium

When the meeting was over I visited a gorge in the area which had old records for Townhall Clock and Alternate-leaved Golden Saxifrage.  The latter was soon found but it was a long search for the Townhall Clock, which is shown in the LH pic next to a Celandine leaf.  The Saxifrage is in the second pic with a Townhall Clock leaf in the top right corner.  There were several other lime-loving plants in the gorge, which would be rewarding to visit later in the year.

Sat 2 May 2009 Inverawe

Viola palustris

A patch of Bog Violet growing among Sphagnum in woodland.

Moehringia trinveria   Moehringia trinveria

Three-veined Sandwort, whole plant and close-up.

Anthocharis cardamines, egg   Formica lemani

Orange Tip butterflies are on the wing now, laying eggs on Cuckoo Flower stalks.  Examine enough and you will find one.

The ants are Formica lemani again.  I was puzzled to see huge numbers of them over an area of 2 sq metres, almost as thick on the ground as when you find a colony under a stone.  But they were all running about in the open, among moss, Dog Violets and dead leaves, with no sign of any "nest".  Have not seen anything like this before.  Until now, always dense colonies under stones or thinly spread out in the open.

There are also a lot of Bee-flies about, mostly on Dog Violet flowers, but I couldn't get a good photo of one.  Also many bumblebees and hoverflies, including Rhingia campestris.  Saw another 7-spot Ladybird.

Cylindroiulus punctatus   Uromyces valerianae gall on Valeriana officinalis

The Blunt-tailed Snake Millipede, Cylindroiulus punctatus, in rotting wood on the ground.  A common woodland species.  The rust gall on Valerian is Uromyces valerianae, which is also common, but has to be microscopically distinguished from the very rare Puccinia commutata.

Alchemilla xanthochlora   Veronica montana

A couple of plants from beside the River Awe path, very close to home.  Intermediate Lady's-mantle and Wood Speedwell.


All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer