Glenfeshie Field Trip - June 12th 2016
This was a return to the very first field trip I led for BC Highland Branch back in 2010 where we'd found our target species, Dingy Skipper, and had also re-found a colony of Small Blue butterflies. In the years since then, Bob and I had seen Dingy Skipper every year we'd visited the site, but didn't see Small Blues again until a single one in 2014, we then saw 14 in 2015. However, there have been a couple of instances of the river level being very high since then, one after lots of heavy rain, the other early this year with heavy rain coinciding with snow melt. The section of old river bed the colonies are alongside has changed quite a bit and I was a bit concerned about their survival.
The forecast for the day wasn't promising, cloudy with showers, but as so often, it was wrong and it stayed dry all day, with the sun coming out in the afternoon. Bob dropped me off at the large layby I'd arranged to meet everyone at, then drove back to a small parking spot nearer the site, he'd brought waders and intended crossing the Feshie as the habitat on the other side looks promising. We've tried to walk to that side from the road on the other bank, but haven't found a way in as yet.
6 others turned up so we walked the short distance along the road before descending the short, but steep, path to the river bed. As we emerged out of the trees onto the river bank, Bob shouted across that he'd seen plenty of Kidney Vetch and 3 Small Blues on that side. After a little bit of searching, and picking our way carefully across the stones of the old river bed, we came to a slightly raised area with a bit more vegetation, small pines, scrub and Bird's-foot Trefoil, the larval foodplant of the Dingy Skipper and we quickly found our first Dingy Skipper, basking on a rock. One benefit of it not being very bright and sunny at this point was that the butterfly wasn't zooming about much and so everyone got good views and photos.
Near this was a large patch of Kidney Vetch and we soon saw our first Small Blue, followed by others, we even were able to watch a female laying eggs on Kidney Vetch flowers. We carried on looking and saw a total of 5 Dingy Skippers, 9 Small Blues and a single Green-veined White, as well as the 3 SMall Blue Bob had seen on the other side of the river. There was also plenty of other things to interest us, a Five-spot Ladybird, various Frogs and Toads, a Lizard and even a Palmate Newt as well as Green Tiger Beetles, Large Red Damselflies, a Golden-ringed Dragonfly and a Bordered White Moth.
We had lunch back by the main arm of the river and it started getting warmer and sunnier. We headed back up to the cars and some of us decided to have a look at an area a bit further up the road which had been cleared by the Forestry Commission. We found 2 of the Longhorn Beetle, Rhagium bifasciatum, a Four-spotted Chaser Dragonfly and another Lizard, but no butterflies or moths.
It maybe wasn't the best day for lots of different species of butterfly, but it was good to be able to confirm that both Dingy Skipper and Small Blue are managing to survive at what is one of very few inland sites for either species in the Highlands.
Dingy Skipper Female Small Blue Egg-laying
|Copyright Butterfly Conservation © 2006 Highland Branch|
|Privacy and Copyright Statement|
Company limited by guarantee, registered in England (2206468)
Registered Office: Manor Yard, East Lulworth, Wareham, Dorset, BH20 5QP
Charity registered in England & Wales (254937) and in Scotland (SCO39268)