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saving butterflies, moths and our environment
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Allt Mhuic Open Day - Sunday 3rd June 2018

This was a triple celebration: 15 years exactly since Allt Mhuic was declared as BC Scotland’s first nature reserve, 25 years since the founding of Highland Branch and 50 years since BC came into being.

Several moth traps were run on site the night before and special thanks go to Nyree and David Fearnly who braved hordes of midges to pot up moths and cover up the Chairman’s traps on the morning of the event. Said Chairman was kipping in his midge-free tent while Nyree and David were being eaten alive. But perhaps the art of delegation is the sign of a good Chairman?

Sixteen folk gathered at the reserve car park and fortunately the weather forecast was inaccurate and we enjoyed a hot and sunny morning. There were plenty of moths (and midges) in the traps, it having been a mild night, with western specialities and some large and spectacular beasts. Highlights included Scorched Wing, Drinker, Marbled Brown, Green Silver-lines, Buff-tip, Northern Eggar, Puss moth and Poplar and Elephant Hawk-moths.

After going through a couple of traps, the sun was still shining so we decided to take a break from moths and walk around the reserve trail for butterflies in case the forecast rain arrived. Along the trail we saw a number of Chequered Skippers (the prime reason for establishment of the reserve and of course the emblem of Highland branch). There were also more moths, including a stunning Clouded Buff. Jon was also looking for flowers and he showed us Lesser Butterfly Orchid and Small White Orchid.

Back at the car park, we ate a late lunch and before anyone had to leave, Tom Prescott (BC) and Jon Mercer (Lochaber Local Biodiversity Action Group) described Forestry Commission Scotland’s plans to build a hydro power plant on the reserve (FCS own the land). The general feeling amongst those present seemed to be that it was totally inappropriate to site such a development on a nature reserve even if it proved not to have a significant impact on the butterfly community in the long term. Lochaber Local Biodiversity Action Group’s summary of the issues is attached here.

We looked through the remaining moth traps in the afternoon and people gradually drifted away as they needed to head home or wherever else they had to get to. A BBQ was planned but there were only five folk remaining by the time the BBQ was lit towards late afternoon. Perhaps predictably, as soon as the BBQ was lit, the rain started to fall. But never fear – we were able to deploy the newly purchased branch gazebo! It did protect the BBQ but we discovered that the gazebo was “rain resistant” rather than waterproof and there was a very fine drizzle underneath the canopy so we still had to wear our waterproofs! We didn’t care – we popped a bottle of champagne to celebrate the occasion and filled our bellies with burgers and sausages…..remember I had catered for a dozen people and there were only five of us!

When we finally totted up the day’s moths, we listed 88 species (75 macros and 13 micros) – an excellent haul. Full list here.

Toasting With Champers

Toasting the anniversary with Champagne, photo by Nyree Fearnly

Drinker  Green Silver-lines

The Drinker and Green Silver-lines, photos by Nyree Fearnly


Erecting the Gazebo, photo by Nyree Fearnly

Toasting the Day

Toasting the day, photo by Tom Prescott

Chequered Skipper Green Hairstreak Elephant Hawk-moth

Chequered Skipper, photo by Bob Turner  Green Hairstreak and Elephant Hawk-moth, photos by Audrey Turner


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