The Mountain Ringlet has a reputation for being really hard to find in anything other than very fine weather and so our group of 12 were lucky to be blessed with perfect hot and sunny conditions for this trip - for which I took the credit of course!
Scottish Natural Heritage, who own and manage the site, laid on tea, coffee and chocolate biscuits for our arrival and also gave us a guide for the day in the form of Charlotte, a charming young French student currently volunteering at the reserve. Unfortunately there were no moths in the SNH moth trap so we had to make do with daytime sightings – see list below.
Bob kicked off the butterfly list with Ringlet in the car park and then near to the SNH farmhouse we added Common Blue and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary. We had a reasonable walk uphill across boggy moorland to where we hoped to find our target species and along the way we saw Small Heaths and numerous Large Heaths – the latter being a “first” for a few of the group at least. For me though, the star was Wood Tiger moth, a real stunner but then I’m a sucker for a beautiful moth. My comment of “better than any butterfly” led to some interesting debate that continued on and off for the remainder of the day! Late morning, we reached the area where Mountain Ringlet was known to reside and we split up and wandered across the hillside in search of this elusive butterfly. There was a brief sighting by Larry but no sooner had he seen it than it went to ground and disappeared. We knew that we were in the right area and so it was surprising that on such a beautiful sunny day we weren’t seeing them flying. However, after a while, there was a shout from Hilary who had spotted one on the move and I swiftly got it in the net – Mountain Ringlet was in the bag! Well, in the pot anyway. A photo-shoot of the butterfly was followed by lunch on the sunny hillside, surrounded by the stunning mountains of Creag Meagaidh.
By the time we headed back downhill, we had seen just three Mountain Ringlets –a surprisingly low number considering the perfect conditions and 13 pairs of eyes looking! Highlight on the way back was a faded but still impressive Clouded Buff – a moth of course! More SNH tea and chocolate biscuits back at the farmhouse before disbanding – the end to a very successful and enjoyable trip.
Field trip group photo (Hilary Quick)
Mountain Ringlet phot shoot (Hilary Quck)
Mountain Ringlet (Bob Turner)
Clouded Buff (Bob Turner)