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saving butterflies, moths and our environment
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Abriachan Forest Trust Butterfly Walk - Saturday 26th May 2018

This event replaced the annual Polmaily visitation where currently there are forest harvesting operations in progress.

 

We met in the car park (NH 540 354) with the cold sea mist still lingering. Even so, we had decent numbers of Green-veined Whites flitting about. I am indebted to Dot and Ron Ruston for which trails to saunter along. (The paths are extremely well maintained.) In the hide over-looking Loch Laide we noticed plenty of Common Heath moths on the heather moorland surrounding the peaty loch. Tufted Ducks and Small Grebes were observed on the loch.

 

Sensitive management makes this area a wonderful place for biodiversity. I must return to check out and record the dragonflies and damselflies.

 

In the now bright sunshine, the haar having been burnt off, Highland Branch member Geoff Hiscocks – up here on holiday from his home in Bath – mentioned how he believed Highland Green-veined Whites were more heavily marked than those in Somerset and Wiltshire. However, Geoff was especially able to help in pointing out Orange Tip butterfly eggs on the stem just under the flowering head of Lady's Smock. The eggs are white at first but turn orange very early. (See Hilary Swift's piece in Chequered Skipper #23  p23.) We found both white and orange eggs. Amazingly, we were recording three or four eggs per flower. Geoff remarked on how he had never known this before. We were finding three and four eggs on so many plants and so consistently. Hilary mentions in her article that the caterpillars kill and eat others on the same plant. Anyway, were these numbers on each plant a result of few Lady's Smock plants to lay eggs on?!  How many eggs does a female Orange Tip butterfly lay?!  We discovered good numbers of female Orange Tip butterflies. However, it wasn't until early in the afternoon that we encountered male Orange Tip butterflies. There was a discussion on how we described the markings on the hind underwing of this species. “Mottled”.  “Netted”.  I liked “mossy”.  Nevertheless, the markings are certainly good camouflage.

Orange-tip

Orange-tip photo by Geoff Hiscocks

 

Towards the end of our stroll along the many forest trails we were pleased to see Speckled Wood butterflies. As Geoff rightly said, no event is complete without seeing Speckled Wood butterflies!!!

 

Regrettably we didn't find any fritillaries. Although they have been recorded elsewhere in the Highlands (Glasdrum Woods). So, we weren't too early looking for them. That was my fear. The Polmaily date having always being principally for Dingy Skippers.

 

I highly recommend this school project site to everyone with its innovative education opportunities and stunning view points. My thanks go to Ron and Dot for deflecting us to this site. It's very much appreciated. Every cloud has a silver lining!!!

By Mark Wynn

 

 

 

     
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