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Latest news

Details of unusual or unseasonal sightings are especially welcome for inclusion on this page, although any contributions are welcome. Please send your contributions to unicorn64@btinternet.com

Highland Branch welcomes contributions not just from Highland and Moray, but from the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland.

Items from previous years have been archived, but can still be accessed by clicking the links below:
| Jan - Jun 2008 | Jul - Aug 2008 | Sep - Nov 2008 | Jan - June 2009 | July - Nov 2009 | Feb - June 2010 | Jul - Dec 2010 | Jan - June 2011 | July - Dec 2011 | Jan - June 2012 | July - Sep 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020 | 2022


15/11/2021  Hilary Swift has been watching some Small White butterfly larvae on her Nasturtiums in her garden in Grantown-on-Spey.  There are five in total, three larger and two smaller ones, hopefully they'll pupate before the weather changes!
Small White Larva
28/10/2021 Pete Moore saw a Red Admiral at Insh Marshes RSPB reserve today!
10/09/2021  A Comma butterfly was spotted on Buddleia in a Grantown-on-Spey garden.


01/09/2021 A Citrus Swallowtail was photographed and filmed in a Nethybridge garden!  The species natural range is sub-Saharan Africa and the Arabian peninsula, but this individual is believed to have come from the Landmark Butterfly House several miles from Nethybridge.

Citrus Swallowtail Citrus Swallowtail

Citrus Swallowtail Video 
29/08/2021  My next door neighbour spotted an Elephant Hawk-moth larva in another neighbour's garden.

Elephant Hawk-moth larva
24/08/2021 Hilary Swift has had a Small white egg-laying on Aubretia and Nasturtium in her Grantown-on-Spey garden on most days in the last couple of weeks.

Small White

24/08/2021  Jack Harrison found a Comma in his Nairn garden, (photo below) and 2 others near Loch Spynie.


12/08/2021 Hilary Swift had a Hummingbird Hawk-moth nectaring on Buddleia in her Grantown-on-Spey garden.

Hummingbird Hawk-moth
09/08/2021  Hilary Swift watched a Small White butterfly egg-laying on an Aubretia plant in her Garntown-on-Spey garden, you can just see the white egg near the middle of the photo below.

Small White egg
08/08/2021 Barry Blake reports that Tom Talbot has come up with a second new species for VC105 in two months. This Rosy Minor appeared in his Ullapool garden and is the first confirmed record. It is something of a mystery why records of this species from the west coast are so scarce.

Rosy Minor

08/08/2021  After hearing about Audrey and Bob's visit to the Carse of Ardersier in 2020, Pete Moore and Hilary Swift visited on August 8th.  Sure enough, the brownfield site was full of Graylings nectaring on the buddleia, along with Peacock, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Dark Green Fritillary, Small Copper, Common Blue, Small White and Meadow Brown.  Other butterflies seen on their visit were Green-Veined White, Ringlet, Speckled Wood and Small Heath making an incredible 14 species seen!

Buddleia  Grayling
Buddleia at the old fabrication yard                                       Grayling nectaring on Buddleia

23/07/2021 Tom Talbot caught this splendid Phoenix in his Ullapool garden. Barry Blake reports this is a first for VC 105 and is the most northerly record for the west coast, taking over from Lochaber. Thanks as ever to Roy Leverton for confirming the identification.  It continues to be an interesting year.



In the first record for VC 105 since 2015 Sue Pomeroy found this Bordered Grey in her Durnamuck garden.  Barry Blake reports that this moth has a very localised distribution with most Scottish records from the Hebrides and Ardnamurchan areas.  This is by some way the most northerly record in Scotland so far, the only other VC records all being from the same area (Drumbuie) near Lochalsh.

Bordered Grey

Sue Pomeroy found this splendid Lime-speck Pug in her Durnamuck garden last night. Barry Blake reports this is only the third record for VC 105 (both Lochalsh) and by far the most northerly record for the west coast.

Lime-speck Pug

As previously reported, up to 2016 there were no Scallop Shell records for VC 105, After this one record there was a gap until 2020 when four were caught in the Gairloch area, three (distinctly different individuals) were caught in Barry Blake’s garden. Today a specimen appeared in his wife’s garden shed where she said it has been for two days despite the door being open all day.  It is tempting to speculate on where this range-expanding species is breeding!    

Scallop Shell
29/06/2021 Mike and Britt Taylor visited Loch Bran and successfully used a pheromone lure to record a Welsh Clearwing moth, the first record at the site since 2013 and the only site east of the Great Glen.  Later in the afternoon a visiting recorder lured in another 7 of the moths, so it would appear there is a viable breeding population.
Welsh Clearwing Mike Taylor

Poplar Grey has a very restricted range in Scotland and in VC 105 has only been recorded from sites in the very south and mid-east of the county. It was thus a surprise when this beautiful fresh specimen appeared in Sue Pomeroy’s trap at Dundonnell well to the north and west.

Poplar Grey
17/06/2021 Last year Barry Blake reported finding a caterpillar which was tentatively identified as a Birch Mocha, see top entry here.  As the photos below show, it was indeed a Birch Mocha, a rather beautiful moth.

About to emerge  Birch Mocha
About to emerge                                                            Adult Birch Mocha

Sue Pomeroy found two Sweet Gale Moths in her trap at Durnamuck last night (8 June). Barry Blake reports that there are only three previous records for VC 105 and two of those were larvae.

Sweet Gale
07/06/2021 Margaret Currie and Andy Scott saw a few butterflies in Glen Affric.
5 Small Heath at NH189262
2 Green Hairstreak at NH212241
1 Small Copper at NH212241
05/06/2021 In yet another "strange year" Barry Blake has noted an unusual number of Sandy Carpet records in VC105.  There have been 6 reports already in June 2021 as against 8 records in the previous 10 years.  The atlas reckons this is a mainly eastern, coastal species in Scotland, but it is generally moving inland.  Photograph by Jim Henderson.

Sandy Carpet
04/06/2021 Hearing that Dingy Skipper were on the wing locally, Hilary Swift and Pete Moore went to check out the Auchgourish plantation, near Boat of Garten, where there were a couple of records from 2020.  They were delighted to find no less than 44 individuals along the sandy tracks and turning circles, with a count of 12 in one place.

Dingy Skipper
02/06/2021 Bob Turner and I found a Small Purple-barred Moth at Whitewell near Aviemore.

Small Purple-barred
31/05/2021 Mike and Britt Taylor saw Speckled Yellow (below left) and Small Purple-barred (below right) at Strath Mashie.

Speckled Yellow  Small Purple-barred
27/05/2021  Mike and Britt Taylorfound a couple of Dingy Skippers at the Gravel Pit Pond in Culbin Forest.

Dingy Skipper

Inspired by our sightings of Pearl-bordered Fritillary yesterday, and not to be out-done by us, Pete and Hilary visited a site near Dulsie Bridge today to look for PBF.  The conditions were marginal, but they saw 11 individuals.  The last records from this area were from David Barbour in 2015.  

Pearl-bordered Fritillary  Pearl-bordered Fritillary
27/05/2021  Bob Turner and I saw our first Pearl-bordered Fritillaries (below left) of the year at a site just south of Aviemore.  There were also Green Hairstreak (below right), Speckled Wood, Small Heath and Orange-tip.  Moths were represented by Brown Silver-line and Common Heath and there was also a very fast moving Garden Tiger larva.

Pearl-bordered Fritillary  Green Hairstreak
25/04/2021 Pete Gordon trapped an Oak Nycteoline in his Nethybridge garden, only the 5th VC record for the species and the first since 2015.
Oak Nycteoline
25/04/2021  Two male Orang-tips were seen on the wing near Blacksboat.
17/04/2021 The first Peacock butterfly of the year I've spotted in Aviemore.

16/04/2021  Carol Armour & Neil Sutherland spotted a Comma by the Spey near Blacksboat.

12/04/2021 Hilary Swift found a total of 9 female and 2 male Rannoch Brindled Beauties on large, erratic boulders on moorland near the west end of Loch Laggan.  Now we know where they go when there are no fenceposts available!

RBB Habitat Rannoch Brindled Beauty Pair
29/03/2021  Mike Taylor trapped this smart Twin-spotted Quaker in his Boat of Garten garden.  This is a first for VC95 and a good start to the year.

Twin-spotted Quaker
03/04/2021 Two female and one male Rannoch Brindled Beauty moths were seen by Pete Moore and Hilary Swift near Nethybridge.  Thanks to Stewart Taylor for the tip-off!

Rannoch Brindled Beauty Female  Rannoch Brindled Beauty Male
08/03/2021  In his 2nd trap of the year in VC105, Barry Blake was pleasantly surprised to find a single moth that turned out to be an Oak Beauty, only the 2nd record north of Lochaber, but a first for VC105.  As ever, thanks to Roy Leverton for identification advice.
Oak Beauty
27/02/2021 A Small Tortoiseshell was seen at Hopeman Harbour.
16/01/2021 A Small Tortoiseshell turned up in my house in Aviemore today.  It is now continuing hibernation in the garage.
Small Tortoiseshell


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