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Glenfeshie Field Trip Sun 12th June 2022

Although it was the best day of the weekend, the weather was decidedly marginal for today’s field trip. Perhaps just as well then that only five of us turned up, with a sixth joining us later in the day. When we arrived at the meeting place just before 10am, the fresh breeze was so cold that I donned waterproofs and woolly hat to keep warm - not a good start for a butterfly walk! Only 12°C was forecast for the morning, rising to 14°C in the afternoon with sunny intervals but we might have given up by then!

We walked to one of the old Forestry and Land Scotland quarries where we had done management work last winter and to start with all was not well. Outside the quarry entrance, the kidney vetch plugs that had survived had been heavily grazed down by something. The flower stems had been eaten but the flower-heads discarded, perhaps the work of voles? With the flower heads snipped off, there would be no developing seeds for Small Blue caterpillars to feed on and no seeds to produce more kidney vetch plants. Also, the trackside verge that had been raked and then sown with seed, had been bulldozed by FLS for no apparent reason. It was a disappointing start.

Nibbled Kidney Vetch Bulldozed Track

Nibbled Kidney Vetch             Bulldozed Track


However, inside the quarry itself, it was looking good. I was pleased to find that many of the kidney vetch plugs had survived and there were splashes of bright yellow bird’s-foot trefoil. There were no butterflies to be seen because of the cold, overcast conditions but we did notch up several moth species.

BF Trefoil at Glenfeshie Quarry

Bird's-foot Trefoil at Glenfeshie Quarry

We returned to the cars and drove a short way down the road to the stretch of River Feshie where Small Blues have previously been seen. Indeed, there was a recent record of 200+ seen here! Luckily, it was more sheltered by the river and the odd spell of sunshine warmed things up. We started to see Small Blues straight away, although most were resting on vegetation rather than flying. Resting in bushes with their wings closed, they looked like pale petals. We spent the rest of the morning and afternoon exploring the river shingle just south of Ballintean and counting butterflies as we went. We totalled an amazing 258 Small Blues, 15 Dingy Skippers, 5 Small Coppers and 1 Small Heath! We learned that most Small Blues were sheltering in gorse bushes. We saw several moth species, including Pebble Hook-tip and Narrow-bordered Bee Hawkmoth. And mountain plants, washed down from the hills, included Mountain Sorrel, Mountain Everlasting, Yellow Mountain Saxifrage and Starry Saxifrage.

Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth Dingy Skipper Small Blue

Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth   Dingy Skipper                           Small Blue - all by Hilary Swift

We had started the day with low expectations but ended the day with good memories. It was 5pm by the time we got back to the cars.

Moth list: Ancylis geminana, Neofaculta ericetella, Common Heath, Crambus lathoniellus, Coleophora alticolella/glaucicolella (larval cases on rush), Bordered White, Pebble Hook-tip, Cydia ulicetana, Narrow-bordered Bee Hawkmoth, Small Purple-barred, Silver-ground Carpet, Clouded Border, Eulia ministrana, Ancylis unguicella and Common White Wave.

Pete Moore

Small Blue Habitat




















 River Feshie

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