Nature Notes from Argyll
(and occasionally other places)

Tue 29 Jun 2010 Ganavan Beag

A Seil Natural History Group midweek recording walk.  Many of the photos show species we've had on the site before, but it's nice for people on the walk to have a record of what we saw, and I'll try to show familiar things from different aspects.

Polygonum oxyspermum ssp raii   Centaurium erythraea, in bud

The sandy bay, like that at Ganavan proper, has the glaucous stems of Sand Knotgrass sprawling about on it.  As you follow the shore round, little pink stars of Centaury shine out of the grass.  Most of the plants are very dwarf; this is a more substantial one, with the flowers still in bud.  You can see here how it's related to the Gentians.

Another good plant find on this coast was Creeping Willow, which is remarkably scarce in the vice-county for some unknown reason.  Other plants of interest were Gipsywort, Grass of Parnassus, Hybrid Woundwort, Lady's Bedstraw, Purple Loosestrife and False Fox Sedge.

Centaurium erythraea, flowers   Coccinella 11-punctata

Oh all right then, here are some open Centaury flowers, so low the camera has to point straight down at them.  And here is an 11-spot Ladybird, on the beach with Sea Sandwort.

x Dactylodenia legrandiana   x Dactylodenia legrandiana

The damp coastal grasslands are rich in orchids.  This one is the intergeneric hybrid between Heath Fragrant Orchid and Heath Spotted Orchid.  It had a strong Fragrant Orchid scent and the flowers have long spurs, so the Fragrant Orchid element was obvious, and Heath Fragrant Orchids were nearby while other kinds of Fragrant Orchid are unheard-of in the area.  That gives Heath Fragrant Orchid as one parent.  The flower lips are clearly not the right shape for a pure Heath Fragrant Orchid; they are stronly reminiscent of Heath Spotted Orchid with their bulging toothed sides, so that is the other parent.  The plant shows hybrid vigour, having more flowers than either parent usually does; this is a common feature of orchid hybrids.

We also saw the hybrid between Heath Spotted and Common Spotted Orchid.  Northern Marsh Orchid was plentiful, and Marion found a single Greater Butterfly Orchid.

Zygaena filipendulae, worn adult   Rivula sericealis

A very worn 6-spot Burnet moth found by Olya caused some interest as it was rather small and appeared to have only 5 spots, but you can just make out the remains of the sixth spot.  Any truly 5-spotted Burnet would be a rare species.  The plant it's clinging to is Compact Rush as you can tell from the ridged stems.  The Straw Dot moth was seen a couple of times during the day; here it is on Creeping Thistle.

Nymphula stagnata   Platyptilia pallidactyla

The Beautiful China-mark again, on Common Spike-rush, and the plume moth Platyptilia pallidactyla, found by Catherine.

Colostygia pectinataria   Xanthorhoe montanata

The Green Carpet, found by Sallie, and the Silver-ground Carpet, which we had last week, but this time showing the underwing.  This is one of the most common day-flying moths at the moment.

Other moths seen were Brown Silver-lines and Chimney Sweeper.  Common Blue butterflies were very numerous; we also saw Small Heath and Small Tortoiseshell.

Noctua pronuba caterpillar   Tipula sp

Last week we had a Large Yellow Underwing caterpillar eating Northern Marsh Orchid, and here is one feeding on Heath Fragrant Orchid - at least it was until I touched it, upon which it extracted its head from the flowers and adopted the position shown.

This cranefly species was very numerous - I think it may be Tipula oleracea.

A beautiful day, and to cap it all we saw a pair of otters offshore.

Wed 30 Jun 2010 near Oban

Dolichovespula norwegica nest   Pieris brassicae, female

A couple of garden pics.  Norwegian Wasps have made a nest in a Box hedge.  The orange patch on the leaf a third of the way up the right hand margin is Box Rust, Puccinia buxi.

The Large White butterfly is rarely seen outside gardens, but very much at home within them.  This one fed on various flowers in the herb garden before floating off down the cabbage patch laying eggs as she went.



All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer