Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Ardnamurchan Sunset

The sunsets on Ardnamurchan are legendary. We experienced just one outstanding display on Monday night. The highest hills in the background are on Rum, with Eigg in front and right. The dark foreground is the mainland. Click on the picture for a super-sized image.

Nikon CP995

The Achosnich Woodland Walk

One of the highlights of the holiday was a walk around the woodland and heather and bog myrtle moorland just south of Achosnich. As well as those shown here we had Twite singing, many Large Red Damselflies (Pyrrhosoma nymphula), Small Heath butterfly (Coenonympha pamphilus), Brown Silver-line (Petrophora chlorosata), Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria) and Green Tiger Beetle (Cicindela campestris). The flowers were spectacular with many Primroses, Bluebells, Violets, etc. and even a few Lesser Cellendine still flowering. Spring certainly comes late to this part of the world.

The Lizard was a good find and there was also a glimpse of another reptile, which we think was a Slow Worm (Anguis fragilis).

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (Boloria selene)

Common Butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris)

Argyotaenia ljungiella

Common Heath (Ematurga atomaria)

Common Lizard (Lacerta vivipera)

Heath Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza maculata)

Micropterix aureatella on Wood Sorrel (Oxalis acetosella)

Nikon CP995

Coldstream and Sanna

Tuesday morning saw Harbour Porpoise again in the Sound from Coldstream Cottage, along with a few Manx Shearwaters which arrived along with many auks, gulls and Shags, but only a few Gannets, to a small feeding frenzy just off-shore, which lasted about 15 minutes. It was interesting to see five Twite flying around the cottage calling in the morning. Later in the afternoon at least three Harbour Porpoise were close inshore with two Grey Seals not far away, Common Gulls, Kittiwakes and three Dunlin passed by and a summer plumaged Great Northern Diver lingered a little way out. Several Black Guillemot were close to the shore.

A trip to the unbelievably beautiful beach at Sanna revealed a good number of Wheatears along the way, several Sand Martins nesting in 'cliffs' in the dunes, two male Eider in the bay, a Common Tern and three Grey Seals.

Common Buzzards were surprisingly few and far between for the whole week and just one today was typical.

Second night's moths

Another small small band of moths to the 125W MV Skinner trap:

1638 Fox Moth (Macroglossum rubi), 1 female (different from previous night)
2060 White Ermine (Spilosoma lubricipeda), 1
2147 The Shears (Hada plebeja), 1
2216 The Shark (Cucullia umbratica), 1
2250 Dark Brocade (Blepharita adusta), 1
2326 Clouded-bordered Brindle (Apamea crenata), 1
2334 Rustic Shoulder-knot (Apamea sordens), 1

Fox Moth (Macroglossum rubi)

The Shears (Hada plebeja)

The Shark (Cucullia umbratica)

Nikon CP995

Monday, May 30, 2005

Coldstream and Ockle

The number of Cuckoos in the area was remarkable and as a result they were very vocal and there was a lot of chasing accompanied by low growling notes as well as more familiar cuckoo noises. Many seabirds on the Sound, some (mainly auks) in rafts and a couple of Harbour Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena). Later at Kilmory a couple of Arctic Terns were feeding and 16 Dunlin, a Ringed Plover and a Common Sandpiper joined the more regular Oystercatchers.

Took a walk along to Ockle and the waterfall there, where Mother Shipton (Callistege mi) and Small Purple-barred (Phytometra viridaria) moths were the highlights. Drinker Moth (Euthrix potatoria) larvae and the unidentified cocoon shown below were quite easy to find in the area and the Click Beetle (Ctenicera cuprea) and Garden Chafers (Phyllopertha horticola) numerous in places.

Small Purple-barred (Phytometra viridaria)

Click Beetle (Ctenicera cuprea)

Garden Chafer (Phyllopertha horticola)

Drinker Moth (Euthrix potatoria)


Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula)

Heath Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza maculata)

Nikon CP995

First night's moths

This isolated location on the north coast of the Ardnamurchan penninsular was perfect for mothing so I set up the 125W MV Skinner trap to see what was flying about during the short nights.

This first session resulted in a small number of moths, most of which were new to me (in the adult form at least):
1638 Fox Moth (Macroglossum rubi), 1 female
1753 Striped Twin-spot Carpet (Nebula salicata), 2
1769 Spruce Carpet (Thera britannica), 1
1902 Brown Silver-line (Petrophora chlorosata), 6
2250 Dark Brocade (Blepharita adusta), 5
2334 Rustic Shoulder-knot (Apamea sordens), 1
2343a Lesser Common Rustic (Mesapamea didyma), 1 larva

Fox Moth (Macroglossum rubi)

Striped Twin-spot Carpet (Nebula salicata)

Spruce Carpet (Thera britannica)

Brown Silver-line (Petrophora chlorosata)

Dark Brocade (Blepharita adusta)

Rustic Shoulder-knot (Apamea sordens)

Lesser Common Rustic (Mesapamea didyma), larva

Nikon CP995

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Of Whinchats and Woolly Bears

Arrived at a cottage on Ardnamurchan for a week. Whinchats (Saxicola ruberta) and Garden Tiger moths (Arctia caja) breeding in the garden, Ravens (Corvus corax) at the bottom of the garden and Cuckoos (Cuculus canorus) everywhere. The journey there was also very eventful with two Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) showing extremely well near Loch Mudle and the entertaining Black Guillemots (Cepphus grylle) nesting next to the ferry at Ardgour. It was nice to hear Wood Warblers singing from the Atlantic Oak Woodlands along Loch Sunart and elsewhere.

Whinchat Saxicola ruberta, male

Digiscoped with Nikon CP995, Leica APO77 + 20x eyepeice

Garden Tiger (Arctia caja), larva

Nikon CP995

Spotted in the rain

A couple of days with relatives by Fortingall in Perthshire were nearly totally rained out but the grounds of the house are home to a great deal of wildlife and there was just enough light to capture these.

Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata

Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus), male


Digiscoped with Nikon CP995, Leica APO77 + 20x eyepeice

Monday, May 23, 2005

Spain, Chronoillogically

Three days birding in Spain with some of the best company a guy could hope for. What could be better. 140 bird species (including a grand total of 70 lifers between us!!) and loads of other wildlife.

There are other accounts of the trip by:
Bogbumper and

Use this entry to work through the trip in chronological order.

The arrival
The Alijar Hacienda
What a Bonanza
Algaida and the northern salinas
Road to nowhere
Hidden Pools of Sanlucar
Nightjar sunset
Storks at El Portal
Laguna da Medina
Seeking Sanctuary
Ojen Valley
Run to the hills
Flowery Places
Villaluengo Pass
Las Covezuela
Grazalema Mirador
Puerto de las Palomas

Puerto de las Palomas

Our last two stops before the trip back to the airport were at the two highest points of the Grazalema ring. The last of these at Puerto del Boyar (1103m) provided the only definite Spanish Ibex (Capra pyrenaica hispanica), high on a ridge. But before that at Puerto de las Palomes (1157m) on the Zahara road (CA531) were some spectacular sights.

A remarkable swarm of Swift (mainly Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus)) possibly running into tens of thousands of birds were accompanied by Griffon Vultures (Gyps fulvus) seemingly coming out of nowhere. There were also swarms of Hummingbird Hawk-moths (Macroglossum stellatarum) on the clumps of Echium albicans and with them, all too briefly and unfortunately not photographed, one of the highlights of the trip for me, a huge Broad-bordered Bee Hawk-moth (Hemaris fuciformis).

The fast-flying ascalaphid were numerous here but difficult to track down stationary.

Hummingbird Hawk-moths (Macroglossum stellatarum)

Libelloides coccajus (an ascalphid related to ant-lions and lacewings)

Nikon CP995

Grazalema Mirador

The drive around to the village of Grazalema provided two more Short-toed Eagles (Circaetus gallicus), one perched on a high ledge, and three Dartford Warblers (Sylvia undata) on the edge of the village itself.

Just outide the village at the first mirador on the road to Zahara de la Sierra we had our best encounter with the local buntings (Cirl and Rock), more Black Wheatears and some good insects.

Rock Bunting (Emberiza cia)

Digiscoped with Nikon CP995, Leica APO77 + 20x eyepeice

Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius)

Nikon CP995

Next - Puerto de las Palomas

Las Covezuelas

Another inspired stop not far from Villaluengo. The highlight was a point-blank encounter with three Bonelli's Warblers (Phylloscopus bonelli) and tantalisingly perhaps the only Rufous Bush-chat (Cercotrichas galactotes) of the trip.

Mallow Skipper (Carcharodus alceae)

Nikon CP995

Next - Grazalema Mirador

Villaluengo Pass

Km 10 on the road near Villaluengo del Rosario and one of the most productive stops of the whole trip. Unpromising at first, a little time revealed masses of birds (Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting, Cirl Bunting, Alpine Swift, Crag Martin, Chough, Great Tit, Blackbird, Sardinian, Subalpine, Orphean and Olivacious Warbler, Griffon Vulture, Stonechat and Black Wheatear) and butterflies (Black-veined White, Morrocan Orange-tip, Spanish Marbled White, Scarce Swallowtail, etc.).

Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala)

Digiscoped with Nikon CP995, Leica APO77 + 20x eyepeice

Synaphe moldavica (a skipper-like moth common in the high places)

Bright Wave (Idaea ochrata)

Marsh Fritillary (Eurodryas aurinia)

Black-veined White (Aporia crataegi)

Nikon CP995

Next - Las Covezuelas