Glasgow & SW Scotland Butterflies

Glasgow & SW Scotland Branch Website

June 10, 2009

Report on Butterfly walk at Bennane Head, Ballantrae, 7th June 2009.

I met up with two new butterfly conservation members, Scott Donaldson and Marianne Ward in Glasgow and we made our way down the Ayrshire coast to look for Northern Brown Argus, Large Skippers and Wall Browns at Bennane head, just north of Ballantrae.
As we were quite early, we decided to stop at Pinbain burn just north of Lendalfoot to have a look.  Opening a gate next to the burn, we disturbed a female wall brown that rose off the path and settled slightly further ahead, giving everyone a great view.

Female Wall Brown at Pinbain

Female Wall Brown at Pinbain

 After spending a few minutes admiring the stunning display of bird’s-foot trefoil, rock-rose, kidney vetch and bloody cranesbill on the hillside we carefully stepped across the burn and were greeted with a fantastic swirl of butterflies. 

At Pinbain we saw a total of 20 Wall Browns (mostly females), a single Northern Brown Argus (male), 4 Painted Ladies, 1 Large White, 1 Small White and 7 Green-veined whites. There were also 2 silver Y moths buzzing around, 6 yellow Shell moths and a common marbled carpet.

Northern Brown Argus

Northern Brown Argus

 There were also a number of 6-spot burnet moth caterpillars crawling around on birds-foot trefoil and one happily munching on common-rock rose. Other notable invertebrate species included a number of species of snails, pill woodlice and a colony of potter wasps (possibly Gymnomerus laevipes) on a steep sandy bank.

 

 

Potter Wasp, Pinbain

Potter Wasp, Pinbain

We then set off for Bennane head, parking just off the old A77. After a quick lunch everyone was keen to get close views of the butterflies that seemed to be everywhere we looked! Painted ladies were very common here. Wall browns and small coppers were busy chasing each other when not basking on rocks or on the tarmac. Large whites, small whites and green-veined whites were all present, which made ID a bit more tricky so there was lots of fun had chasing after all the whites to get a confirmation.

Painted Ladies on Scabioius Bennane Head

Painted Ladies on Scabioius Bennane Head

A sighting of an male orange tip dipping just out of sight led us to a sheltered little nook that had a small copper, a very fresh looking northern brown argus (male) and a large skipper (male) all within a few meters of each other.

Northern Brown Argus at Bennane head

Northern Brown Argus at Bennane head

Large Skipper at Bennane Head

Large Skipper at Bennane Head

At Bennane Head we saw: 80+ Painted Ladies, 15 Wall Browns (possibly more), 7 Large Whites, 4 Small Whites, 10 Green-veined Whites, 2 Orange-tips, 6 Small Coppers, 1 Large Skipper, 1 Northern Brown Argus and 2 Small Heath. Moths included: Silver-ground carpets, Silver Ys, Mother Shiptons, Yellow shell, a Wood tiger and 2 adult 6-spot Burnets (LOTS of Burnet Caterpillars and their distinctive yellow cocoons everywhere!). One interesting observation was 6-spot burnet caterpillars feeding on wild thyme (as well as the more normal Bird’s-foot trefoil).

6-spot Burnet on Scabious

6-spot Burnet on Scabious

Wood Tiger at Bennane Head

Wood Tiger at Bennane Head

6-spot Burnet caterpillar

6-spot Burnet caterpillar

Wall Browns Mating, Bennane Head

Wall Browns Mating, Bennane Head

 Other species seen included: buzzards (great views), ringed plovers, oyster catchers, fulmars, linnets, meadow pipits, swallows, jackdaws and whinchats. Oh and some very inquisitive cattle too!

Everyone had a great day, with all of the target species seen and lots of first sightings too.

Painted Lady feeding

Painted Lady feeding

 

Scott Shanks, Committee Member
 

June 9, 2009

Report on Green hairstreak walk at Loch Thom, 5th May 2009

Filed under: Butterflies, Events — Tags: , , , , — Scott Shanks @ 10:20 pm

It was a bright morning with patchy cloud and a fair bit of wind when I left Glasgow for the Cornalees Bridge visitors centre at Loch Thom. The temperature reading on my car dash board showed a rather cool 10 oC, but plummeted down to 5 oC on route to Greenock. Then, horror of horrors, hail stones started bouncing off the windscreen! It wasn’t looking good for the butterfly walk.

Four hardy individuals keen to see Green Hairstreaks were waiting in the car park. At this point the temperature was back up to 6 oC, but the wind was still quite strong and the sky overcast.  We had a chat about butterflies and moths as everyone got their walking boots on and considered going for a coffee in the visitor centre to see if it would brighten up. Then suddenly the sky cleared and the wind dropped completely! Hurrah!

We quickly set off looking for good patches of Blaeberry. We didn’t have to go far!  Just a 50 metres from the car park and a pair of green hairstreaks darted up into the air next to the path! Less than 100m from the car park and we’d seen 18 of these amazing little gems.

Green Hairstreak Loch Thom 

 

 

 

Green Hairstreak in sunshine at Loch Thom

Green Hairstreak in sunshine at Loch Thom

 

Green hairstreak colony at Cornalees Bridge

Green hairstreak colony at Cornalees Bridge

 

Everyone managed to get close up views and photographs and quickly learned to spot them resting on tussocks of grass and recognise their distinctive flight. We also saw a few green-veined whites and found lots of drinker moth caterpillars.

While the sun remained we set out for a walk along the nature trail towards Shielhill farm and managed to see more green-veined whites and had a good view of a female orange tip resting on cuckoo flower, before heading back for a well deserved coffee and muffin.

Female orange tip on Cuckooflower

Female orange tip on Cuckooflower

 

All in all it was a great day and a couple of people on the walk have been in touch to say they’ve found green hairstreaks in other places! Fantastic!

Scott Shanks

Committee member

June 7, 2009

Report on Chequered Skipper Weekend 30 & 31 May 2009

Filed under: Butterflies — Andrew Masterman @ 5:42 pm

Arriving at the Glasdrum car park on Saturday 30 May at 8am, I was delighted to find four people already waiting to see the moth catches from light traps set the night before. Twenty four species of moth were caught with the highlight being a Saxon and some very attractive moths were caught including Peach Blossom, White Ermine & Buff Tip.

As we all gathered in the car park for the talk on Chequered Skipper, Pearl-bordered Fritillary and recording butterflies with GPS, a mating pair of Chequered Skipper obligingly arrived so we got off to a good start without even leaving the car park.

After the talk, we divided into two groups (one of 7 & one of 6)  with the more adventurous team led by me heading up the west side of Glasdrum to an open area at 800-900 ft where I found some Chequered Skippers last year. The second team led by SNH staff, John Halliday and Hazel White followed the path of the butterfly transect along the wayleave and some large glades which gradually gain height as you head east finally ending in a large woodland glade.

The map below (click for larger image) shows the results for Chequered Skipper recorded with GPS. The upper team recorded 56 Chequered Skipper waymarks relating to positions of Chequered Skipper but high up, several Chequered Skipper were seen at some positions so well over a hundred Chequered Skipper were seen during the day. Chequered Skipper were very numerous in a damp area of Purple-moor grass and rushes at  800 ft, particularly at the northern edge where an escarpment provided shelter. Others in lower numbers were seen on steep slopes with bracken but were noticeably more abundant in flushed areas with mineral enrichment where lush Purple-moor grass was found.  

The lower team recorded 55 waymarks with many seen along the wayleave where they occur in numbers and lower numbers were seen elsewhere along the butterfly transect.  The map below shows that the paths of the two teams overlapped in the big glade on the western side of Glasdrum where both teams saw a number of Chequered Skipper. This is a good nectaring glade with abundant tormentil & bluebell.

Chequered Skippers recorded by the upper and lower groups

Chequered Skippers recorded by the upper and lower groups

 
Each team had two GPS devices and the second GPS device was used to record the positions of any other butterflies seen. By chance, the Chequered Skipper weekend happened to coincide with the largest butterfly migration in years of Painted Lady and Butterfly Conservation had organised a survey of Painted Lady on Saturday 30 May to record this phenomenon.

The map below (click for larger image) shows the positions of all other butterflies seen including Painted Lady which arrived in Argyll on the Saturday - none were seen the day before.   A total of 49 Painted Lady were seen during the walks by the two groups between 10.45 am and 3.30 pm. This was a very interesting butterfly event to have witnessed and although numbers seen were much lower than recorded in the SE of England, Painted Lady did appear to be falling out of the sky in numbers.

Other butteflies seen by the upper and lower groups on 30 May 2009

Other butteflies seen by the upper and lower groups on 30 May 2009

Some Pearl-bordered Fritillary were still on the wing on the higher slopes and at the eastern end of the big glade surveyed by the lower group but as many Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary were also on the wing, it was difficult to determine exact numbers of Pearl-bordered Fritillary.

 

On the Sunday, some people headed off to other sites including the north shore of Loch Etive, Ardgour and near Fort William and found more Chequered Skipper. The weather was fantastic on both days ensuring that many butterflies were seen. Some of us also saw Marsh Fritillary and Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk Moth at nearby Appin adding to a great butterfly weekend.

Andrew Masterman

Committee Member

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