Field trip Culbin Forest, Moray,
Arriving at Wellhill slightly earlier than the allotted meeting time I was staggered at the crowd of people interested in coming on our walk. Sadly my elation was short lived when I realised I had come upon a party of orienteers preparing to set off in search of different sport. We still managed a very healthy turnout of 8, all of whom seemed determined to make the most of what was a rather cool day.
We very nearly had nothing to report as the weather the day before was dire and seemed to have knocked all the insects down and it often takes a couple of days for them to pick up again. On the outward route towards Binsness we saw almost no flying insects which did not bode well for a butterfly trip.
In the absence of anything on the wing I turned my attention to looking for ant hills and was amazed at just how many there are. It would be fair to compare them to a ribbon settlement system just like humans living along a road-side. Almost all of the nests were on the north side of the path giving them a warm, sunny, southern aspect, just the type of conditions they seem to prefer. While I did not actually measure the distance between mounds, on reflection, they were fairly evenly spaced out.
Allan Lawrence produced a large sawfly which was photographed for later identification. The cool weather helped as it posed quietly on my hand for the occasion. We noted that they are not seen that often despite their large size.
Along the way Mike Taylor collected six moth records, consisting of 2 tortrix moths, Capua vulgana and Syndemis musculana, Diamond-back Moth Plutella xylostella, Six-spot Burnet Zygaena filipendulae (larva), Cream Wave Scopula floslactata, and Dwarf Pug, Eupithecia tantillaria. (Click on the links for descriptions and photos on UK Moths website, http://ukmoths.org.uk)
The Cream Wave is a first for Moray and is usually associated with a more western distribution. The moth is the more heavily marked scotica subspecies which was confirmed by Roy Leverton as he had not seen one with such dark lines and speckling.
The return leg of the trip ran parallel to the outward path and again the ants were evident on the south facing side. Here we found the only butterfly of the day, a rather drowsy Speckled Wood. With a little encouragement it did take flight and alighted in a tree. All told we had a very rewarding day out but we would still hope for better weather next time!
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