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Latest news archive

Items from January to June 2008 appear on this page

Items from previous years have been archived, but can still be accessed by clicking the links below:
| Jul - Aug 2008 | Sep - Nov 2008 | Jan - June 2009 | July - Nov 2009 | Feb - June 2010 | Jul - Dec 2010 | Jan - June 2011 | July - Dec 2011 | Jan - June 2012 | July - Sep 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020 | 2021 | 2022

30/06/2008 Tony Mainwood saw four Ringlet at Camore Wood, Dornoch.
29/06/2008 Just a reminder that Garden Moths Count is under way, and will run until Sunday 6th July. So there's still time to take part, and who knows what wonderful discovery you might make in your garden! You will find full details on the Moths Count website.
27/06/2008 George Mair reports 2 Ringlet at Portknockie, Grid Ref NJ 495 685. He has seen no more Small Blue at Portknockie since 6th June. A period of cool, unsettled weather since the 2nd week of June has meant fewer butterfly records than usual for this time of year.

Another Dark Green Fritillary record at Loch Fleet, SE Sutherland, sent in by Tony Mainwood.


Sally Jack reported a Dark Green Fritillary from Glen Loy, north of Fort William.


Two Dark Green Fritillary were reported from Kentallen, just south of Ballachulish.


Drinker moth at Durness (photo by Mike Fitch)At Durness, NW Sutherland, Alan Herman found this Drinker moth, Euthrix potatoria, beside its cocoon from which it had just emerged. Mike Fitch took the photo.


Another unusually early record, this time from the east Highlands. Roy Leverton reported 2 Northern Brown Argus which were seen today at Speybridge, near Grantown on Spey.

He also recorded 4 Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moths in the same area.

Also today, Brian Neath saw 10 or so Large Heath in the Loch Scalpaidh area (see also entry dated 2nd June).

Unfortunately Brian didn't find any Argent & Sable moths, Rheumaptera hastata, which were his target species. However Viv Halcrow recorded over 100 specimens in the Assynt area this week.


Brian Neath reports finding a Chimney Sweeper moth, Odezia atrata, at Nostie, at the northwestern end of Loch Alsh. Brian's previous best date for this species was 14th June 2005.

George Mair counted 12 Small Blue at Portknockie (NJ 490 687), the site described in the entry dated 4th June. He also saw one or two Silver Y.


Chequered Skipper (photo by Elliott Staley)Elliott Staley sent us this excellent picture of a Chequered Skipper, which he took on the first day of his holiday in Scotland on 24th May. This was one of five adults which he saw by a stream at Grid Ref NN248 811.

Elliott is 10 years old, and has nearly completed his project of photographing all of the British resident butterflies. He had hoped to photograph Small Blue on the Moray Coast during his holiday, but unfortunately the weather turned cold and overcast by midweek. We wish him every success in his efforts, and hope he will make many more visits to our area.


The following records are from a section of coast in VC94, Banffshire, to the east of the village of Sandend. Sheep were allowed to graze on the sea braes during the winter, which has kept the vegetation from becoming overgrown with coarse grasses and bracken. There were swathes of bird's-foot-trefoil but only one small patch of kidney vetch. Purple milk-vetch was also found. Migrant Silver Y moths were numerous. A cool onshore breeze appeared to have an effect on butterfly numbers, but a male Common Blue, a Painted Lady, a Small Copper and several Green-veined Whites were recorded.

8 km further west along the coast, at Portknockie, in a location where kidney vetch was abundant, between 12 and 20 Small Blue were seen. Silver Y were also seen, but in single numbers.

Brian Neath recorded a single Large Heath at a new site near Kirkton, Kyle of Lochalsh.


Brian Neath reports that the continuous fine weather in the NW Highlands over the last few weeks has reversed what was a late season into an early one. Another example of this (see also the Large Heath sighting on 2nd June) was a Common Blue, which was seen today at Lochalsh Dam, about 6 miles (10 km) east northeast of Kyle of Lochalsh; his previous best dates for the Lochalsh area for Common Blue were 10th June 2001 and 16th June 2003.

He added that the flight season for Orange-tip and Pearl-bordered Fritillary has been very short this year, with neither species being seen in his area since 24th May.


Small Blue (photo by Helen Mainwood)Tony Mainwood reported lots of Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries at Rogart, SE Sutherland, and just a few Pearl-bordered Fritillaries which looked pretty worn.

Helen Mainwood saw at least 8 Small Blues at Loch Fleet, SE Sutherland, so it looks as if a colony is now well established after odd records over the last two years. Helen's photo shows a Small Blue on a flower head of kidney vetch.

Brian Neath reports that two Large Heath were seen today near Loch Scalpaidh, which lies about 1.5 miles (2.5 km) NE of Kyle of Lochalsh. His previous best date for this species (which is very local in the Lochalsh area) was 19th June 2000.


George Mair reported a single Small Blue at Portknockie, on the Moray Coast. From the transect at Loch Fleet, SE Sutherland, 1 Small Blue was also recorded, plus 4 Small Heaths. Small Coppers were also seen there. In contrast, David McAllister reported 22 Small Blues from his Dornoch transect.

Highland Branch's field trip to Corrimony, Glen Urquhart, produced a sighting of a Clouded Yellow. We hope to post more information about the day on the Events page shortly.


Catherine MacLeod reports having seen Chequered Skipper butterflies at a site in Ardgour, to the west of Loch Linnhe.

Mother Shipton moth (photo by Jane Bowman)Jane Bowman sent us this striking picture of a Mother Shipton moth (Callistege mi) which she took in Glen Moriston. It can also be found near the Moray Firth coast. The moth flies in sunshine, bearing a slight resemblance in flight to a skipper butterfly.

Roy Leverton saw a Small Blue butterfly at Tarlair, near Macduff in Aberdeenshire. This suggests that the Small Blue might be on the wing elsewhere on the Moray Firth coast.

Brian Neath recorded two Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries at Carr Brae, Dornie.


Near Aigas Field Centre, Strathglass, Beauly, Inverness-shire, Tony Mainwood saw a Pearl-bordered Fritillary.

Brian Neath reported seeing at least three Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries at Carr Brae, Dornie, one of which was especially large, similar in size to a Dark Green Fritillary. He also saw three Pearl-bordered Fritillaries at the same location.

Broad-bordered White Underwing, Anarta melanopa (photo by David McAllister)David McAllister photographed this Broad-bordered White Underwing (Anarta melanopa) on a snow bank on Cairn Gorm today. It was just above the Ptarmigan Station (NJ 006 047) at 1100m (3609 ft). David saw another at NJ 003 063, 1010m (3314 ft), but it refused to settle long enough to allow a picture to be taken.

22/05/2008 Tony Mainwood saw several Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries at Berriedale, Caithness, today.

Jimmy McKellar reports that his remaining Ruby Tiger moth started to emerge from its pupa, but it failed to break out of its cocoon (see entries dated 16/02/08, 09/03/08 and 16/03/08).

George Mair reported a Red Admiral butterfly at Crannoch Hill, near Cullen, on the Moray/Aberdeenshire border. He also saw two Speckled Wood in the same place, which was sheltered from the cool easterly wind.


Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Rogart (photo by Tony Mainwood)Tony Mainwood visited a couple of Pearl-bordered Fritillary sites near Rogart, SE Sutherland today, and counted at least twelve in one and three in the other.

The best time to look for this butterfly is during the first three weeks in May, when its flight period doesn't overlap with that of the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, which it closely resembles.

To view Pearl-bordered Fritillary distribution maps in Highland Branch area, please click on these links:

West Highland sites | East Highland sites

Volunteers are being sought to re-visit these sites, and help piece together up-to-date information about this butterfly's distribution in Scotland. For further details of this project please visit Butterfly Conservation Glasgow & South West Scotland Branch website.


Small Copper butterfly (photo by Tony Mainwood)The first report of a Small Copper butterfly this year comes from Tony Mainwood, who saw one today at Loch Fleet, SE Sutherland.

June is usually the best month to see this small, attractive insect. Its caterpillars feed on sorrels and docks.

Brian Neath saw his first Small Heath of the season at Carr Brae, Dornie. He saw further specimens there on the 16th and 21st May.


Female Emperor Moth (photo by Steve Fitzsimmons)Thanks to Steve Fitzsimmons of Crathie, Aberdeenshire, for sending us this photo of a female Emperor Moth. Steve's young son Alfie found it by a stream at the back of their house at 8.30 am on Monday 12th May. It had fallen in the stream and was struggling to get out. After being rescued, it dried off and flew away.

Adult Emperor Moths are on the wing in April and May. The males fly rapidly by day, and are very difficult to photograph. Females fly at night and can sometimes be found at rest during the day.


Nut-tree Tussock Moth (photo by Dave Stewart)Jimmy McKellar submitted this photo of a Nut-tree Tussock moth, taken by Dave Stewart at Munlochy on the Black Isle. This moth is fairly common in the south of Britain, but more local in the north. It appears on the wing in May and July.

Its caterpillars feed on hazel, birches and other broadleaved trees.

Although its English name suggests that it belongs to the Lymantriidae family (tussock moths), the Nut-tree Tussock, Colocasia coryli, is a member of the Noctuidae family (noctuids).


Green Hairstreak (photo by Audrey Turner)The weather this week has changed abruptly to summer conditions, resulting a number of reports of butterfly sightings.

Audrey Turner sent us this fine photo of a Green Hairsteak taken on Monday 5th May on moorland with heather and blaeberry, west of Aviemore and the A9, just a bit north of Graigellachie NNR. Green Hairstreaks were also reported from the Dufftown area (Moray) and Loch Fleet (SE Sutherland).

David Barbour received a report of an Orange Tip from Onich, near Fort William, on 6th May.

On 7th May, Speckled Wood butterflies were reported from a garden in the Scorguie area of Inverness; Loch Eye, near Fearn in Easter Ross; Culbin Forest, on the track between Wellhead car park and Lake of Moy. On the same track the contributor saw five Peacock and four Green-veined White. A search for Green Hairstreak at Buckie Loch (Culbin Forest) drew a blank.

Jimmy McKellar has been up the canal banks between Inverness and Dochgarroch, where he has seen quite a lot of butterflies, including Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Green-veined White and Speckled Wood. He saw one moth, a Hebrew Character.


Brian Neath has sent us his first Pearl-bordered Fritillary report, from his transect visit at Carr Brae, Dornie. He recorder two specimens there today.

Brian's subsequent transect records for this species are as follows:

11th May: 13
14th May: 10
21st May: 12
24th May: 3


Ringed Carpet moth (photo by Jane Bowman)Thanks to Jane Bowman who has sent us this photograph of the Ringed Carpet. She found it on a fencepost that was also occupied by a female Rannoch Brindled Beauty. Both species are listed as Nationally Scarce A, so this was a very exciting find. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Jane also found her first Common Heath of the year on heather at 350m. Normally this moth does not appear on the wing until May.

All records from Glen Moriston.

18/04/2008 Jane Bowman has made further sightings of the Rannoch Brindled Beauty moth in Glen Moriston. Check out her reports and photos of this Highland speciality.

Dingy Skipper butterfly (photo by Sandy Sutherland)This is a photo of a Dingy Skipper butterfly taken at Rosemarkie on 17th June 2007 by Sandy Sutherland.

Although the sighting occurred last summer, it's worth a mention here because this is the first record of the Dingy Skipper from this site since 1986.

Although the Dingy Skipper is becoming increasingly scarce nationally, there are still a few colonies along the southern Moray Firth coast, towards the inner Moray Firth.

It is easily overlooked, as its colour merges with patches of bare ground which it favours.

Look out for it from early May, and if you see any, please let us know!

29/03/2008 Bill Slater reports a Red Admiral at Inverness, visiting spring flowering Erica. Weather sunny, temp about 12°C.

Jane Bowman has sent us pictures from Glen Moriston of a Small Chocolate-tip moth, its larva and cocoon. She writes, "I have the caterpillars every summer on sallow in the garden, but had never seen the moth. Collected a couple of leaf "spinnings" last autumn, placed in pot, and hoped for best. Surprise, surprise there was one fluttering about (this morning). A very tiny moth, but really delightful. Unfortunately it's emerged way too soon. Now outside in snow showers, presumably doomed but at least it's back in the sallow where it was born and hopefully its siblings are still tucked up warm...ish!!!"

  Small Chocolate-tip cocoon (photo by Jane Bowman) Small Chocolate-tip adult (photo by Jane Bowman)
16/03/2008 Jimmy's active Ruby Tiger larva has died, leaving the one in the cocoon, which he hopes remains healthy.

Ruby Tiger moth larva spun up into a cocoon.Ruby Tiger moth larva, fully grown.

Jimmy McKellar reports that one of the Ruby Tiger larvae which he found on 16/02/08 has spun up into a cocoon, while the other is still active.

Maybe they aren't parasitised after all! No doubt Jimmy will send further reports on their progress.

The picture on the left shows the cocoon enclosing the larva, while the one on the right shows the other larva fully grown.

Another Red Admiral. Bill Slater saw one at 13:30, sunning itself on a tree trunk in his garden in Inverness.

Branch Chairman Jimmy McKellar spotted two caterpillars on the road by the Caledonian Canal. He identified them as caterpillars of the Ruby Tiger moth, which hibernate when fully fed, and emerge in spring to bask in warm sunshine. Jimmy thinks these specimens may be parasitised as they are not usually out this early. He will keep them in his greenhouse to find out what happens to them.


Tim Meredith reported a Peacock butterfly at Fodderty, grid ref NH357602.The Peacock and Small Tortoisehell are resident butterflies which overwinter as adults, and emerge from hibernation in Spring.


A student at Inverness College reported seeing a Small Tortoiseshell in the car park at Midmills Building, Inverness. Betty Cowan also saw one at Gordonhall Farm, near Ruthven Barracks, Kingussie (NN768996)

So far we have received reports of 3 Red Admiral sightings. Branch Treasurer Alex Stewart saw one at Dochgarroch Locks, near Inverness. So did Hilary Swift, who saw one in her garden at Inverdruie, near Aviemore. The 3rd sighting came from Assynt Field Club member Clarinda Chant, at Torbreck (NC0924), where the daytime temperature exceeded 11 degrees Celsius.

Although regarded as a migrant species, early sightings such as these suggest that some overwintering Red Admirals may survive through to Spring in this area.

Please look out for more early appearances! If you do see anything interesting, please e-mail Jimmy McKellar so that we can add your news to this page!


The latest edition of Highland Branch Newsletter is now available. To download it, please visit the Newsletter page.

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