Nature Notes from Argyll
(and occasionally other places)

Thu 16 Jun 2011

Martes martes

Pine Marten through the kitchen window.  Not my kitchen window, but that of a lady who has been feeding both pine martens and badgers in this way for years and kindly allowed me to watch.  The badger didn't turn up until after I'd gone, so that will be for another day.  The light was rather dim when the photo was taken, and you can't use flash when there's glass between you and the subject, so it's a crummy pic in more ways than one.  It was a wonderful experience to see this beautiful animal so close and study its feeding behaviour, which consists of licking up all the jam and leaving the bread.

Sat 18 Jun 2011 Glen Etive

Chrysoteuchia culmella   Nicrophorus vespilloides

SNHG walk along part of Glen Etive from Inverawe.  Only pic taken was this Garden Grass-veneer found by Catherine.

Sun 26 Jun 2011 Loch Nell

Only pic taken was this Common Sexton Beetle, above right, easily told from similar species by its black (not orange) antenna tips.  The mites do not harm the beetle but ride on it to get to carrion and then eat the mould on the carrion, which benefits the beetle.  See 

Tue 28 Jun 2011 Easdale

A midweek field trip to Easdale island which I publicised on the SNHG forum as follows:

"This is mainly a botanical walk though we'll certainly take note of anything else that we see! The island provides a refuge for various annual plants which have become scarce in the west of Scotland since the cessation of arable farming. Much of the island's coastline is made up of slate debris kept unstable by wind and tide to produce a habitat rather like a regularly ploughed field, where permanent vegetation cannot become established, and here the "arable weeds" thrive. Some that I've recorded are: Hairy Tare, Ramping Fumitory, Common Fumitory, Red Dead-nettle, Cut-leaved Cranesbill, Hedge Mustard, Petty Spurge and Sun Spurge. A pint in the Puffer Bar for anybody who spots a new one!

Another objective of the walk is to look for Thyme Broomrape which we found on our last visit in Sep 2009. This plant is parasitic on Wild Thyme and is a challenge to find as it doesn't come up in the same places each year. If we find it on this occasion it should be in its fresh red state rather than the dried brown form we saw last time."

Orobanche alba   Orobanche alba

There it is!  Open flowers on the left and two young ones on the right, together with its host plant.

Fumaria muralis   Crepis capillaris var glandulosa

Common Ramping Fumitory and Smooth Hawksbeard

Sisymbrium officinale   Myosotis arvensis

Hedge Mustard and Field Forget-me-not

Geranium dissectum   Anagallis arvensis

Cut-leaved Cranesbill and the find of the day, by Marion, the elusive Scarlet Pimpernel

Afterwards I summed up the day in this forum message:

"Once again we were very lucky with the weather and had a great day on Easdale that surpassed my expectations. Marion found the ultimate "arable weed", Scarlet Pimpernel. Gordon Rothero's flora of VC98 says "A weed of cultivation much reduced with the decline in arable farming. Now very rare". That was in 1994, and by now one might reasonably have expected it to be extinct in the area. We found several other annuals not often seen in this part of the country, including Ramping Fumitory and Cut-leaved Cranesbill.

Our other target was the Thyme Broomrape. Alan spotted it first on this occasion. There were 7 fresh red spikes at the place where we saw the dried ones in Sep 2009, and a further 4 at a new location.

A further highlight was watching a Common Gull coaxing her chicks down from their cliff nest to the edge of the water, while an older batch of chicks swam between their low-level nest and the bank.

The first Common Blue butterflies of the year were also seen.

We finished with a celebratory drink and nibbles at a table in the sun outside the Puffer Bar.

Thanks to all who took part for having such sharp eyes!"

Larus canus   Larus canus

Here is the first batch of Common Gull chicks.  They were on these planks high up on the side of the quarry.  The mother flew down to the water's edge and the chicks rolled and waddled down to join her.  She then tried to coax them into the water, without much success.

Larus canus   Larus canus

This is the other nest, with much larger chicks who were capable swimmers.

Zygaena filipendulae   Easdale phone box

6-spot Burnet moth spotted by Marion on a Northern Marsh Orchid, and tomato plants coming on well in the island's phone box!



All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer