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

April 27, 2009

Butterfly Walk, Little Drum Wood

Filed under: Events — Tags: , , — Heather Young @ 4:24 pm

Sunday May 24th. 2pm., Little Drum Wood, Brig o’ Turk.  

  

Meet in the Car Park at NN548063, on the south side of the A821 opposite Lendrick Lodge, just east of Brig o’ Turk. For a map of the location click here 

Little Drum Wood is part of the Woodland Trust’s Glen Finglas Estate, and borders the north shore of Loch Venacher. There are several waymarked routes throughout Glen Finglas ranging from ½ an hour to 7 hours duration, but we will be exploring suitable butterfly habitat within, and around the periphery, of the wood itself, at a leisurely pace, so the walk will be suitable for anyone used to a little bit of physical exercise. The event is being organised as part of Scottish Biodiversity Week, and amongst other things there is a photographic competition with the theme ‘Colours of Nature’, so don’t forget your camera (for more information click here).

Butterflies are obviously the primary targets, but if the weather refuses to co-operate, there will be lots of other interesting things to look for instead. Little Drum Wood is ancient woodland, well known for its carpets of bluebells and rich birdlife (including both pied and spotted flycatchers).

Bluebells © Ramsay Young

The butterflies we are particularly hoping to see are Green Hairstreak; tiny, feisty little creatures that glitter like jewels as they tilt their wings to catch the sunlight, as they (the males) hold territories amongst the bilberry and heather at the edge of the wood.

 
Green hairstreak © Maurice Young

Green hairstreak © Maurice Young

 
On the wing from the end of April and continuing well into June, we should be sure to find them if the sun is shining! See the ‘species’ pages for further information on their ecology. We will also be searching suitable habitat for the Pearl-bordered Fritillary, the subject of a co-ordinated survey effort in 2009 – if you would like to get involved please see our ‘surveys’ page for details. On the wing from the beginning of May, if they are present in the woodland clearings we should be able to find them, but need to be careful about identification, as they are easily confused with the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, which emerges a little later, but could well be around by the 24th. May.

 

 

Small pearl-bordered fritillary © Ramsay Young

Small pearl-bordered fritillary © Ramsay Young

We will look for this BAP priority species as well anyway, probably more likely to be found in the damper areas nearer the loch shore, and although a little early in the season, may well be present if the weather is warm between now and then (fingers crossed).

 

Brig o’ Turk village has a small café, with another restaurant a little bit further along the road towards Aberfoyle, and of course Callander and Aberfoyle both have plenty of  places to eat and drink either before or after the walk – you could even bring a picnic as we’re almost certain to have gloriously sunny weather on the 24th! See you then.

 

Heather Young.

 

 

 

 

 

April 23, 2009

Recording and Monitoring Butterflies and Moths in South West Scotland

One of the most important aspects of conservation is the recording and monitoring of our native species. Monitoring a species over time allows us to determine whether the population is declining or increasing, and also provides data on the distribution of a particular species and whether they are increasing their range or becoming extinct at previous strongholds.

Small Tortoiseshell Survey

Small Tortoiseshell Survey

 

There are a range of ways in which you can get involved and I’ve listed a few below.


1. Monitoring specific species of Butterfly
The branch is looking for volunteers to help with species-specific surveys targeted to some of the most threatened butterfly species in Scotland. Participating in butterfly surveys is fun, informative and very rewarding. Plus it’s a great way to see some of the
UK’s rarest species. It involves a wee bit more than just counting butterflies as we also need to know a bit about the plants which comprise the habitat and the overall condition of the site.  To help conserve the UK BAP species in Scotland which are currently under threat, we need to revisit historical sites to see if the butterfly is still there and also to identify sites where the habitat has deteriorated and is a threat to the survival of the butterfly colony. These sites can then be flagged up with Butterfly Conservation, Scottish National Heritage and LBAP partners with the aim of getting appropriate management work done to improve the condition of the sites. This survey potentially requires only a single visit to a site (although return visits can help gain more data), and therefore you can choose to visit as few or as many sites as you wish. Every piece of information you collect could be immensely useful.
Surveys for the Chequered Skipper, Dingy Skipper, Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Mountain Ringlet, and Northern Brown Argus are detailed on the branch website:
http://www.southwestscotland-butterflies.org.uk/index.shtml
 
2. Monitoring specific sites looking for butterflies
There are two ways that volunteers can help monitor butterflies and moths at particular sites.
2a. The first is the Butterflies of the Wider Countryside Survey.
This is a research project collecting data that can be used to monitor the abundance of butterfly species across the countryside. It involves only 2 visits to a particular site, once in July and once in August, but further optional visits in May and June would provide more data. The sites are all 1 km map squares that have been chosen randomly to provide an unbiased assessment of butterfly abundance in the countryside. The methodology involves walking across your
1km square twice in as straight a line as possible counting all of the butterflies that pass near to you. You can record others that are further off your route separately, but for the study you need to only record those that come within 5m of your position as you move along the route. This survey is being tried in our branch area for the first time during 2009 after trails in England and up in the Highland branch area of Scotland.
For more information on sites to be surveyed in the branch area and more on the methodology see
http://www.southwestscotland-butterflies.org.uk/surveys/wider-countryside-butterfly-scheme-2009.shtml
and
http://www.ukbms.org/wcbs.htm
 
2b. The second type of site-specific survey is a Butterfly Transect.
This survey monitors butterflies on a set route through a particular site over the course of the Summer. The methodology requires one visit each week between April and September. The recorder takes a note of all butterflies that pass within a
5m by 5m ‘imaginary box’ in front of them as they walk along the route. It provides a wealth or information about the butterfly population on that site and can give an early warning of population declines, as well as providing data on when species are on the wing each year. There is a network of monitored transects (normally in nature reserves or on sites where threatened species are found) that are co-ordinated by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, but anyone can set up their own independent transect in their local park or along a canal footpath where they regularly walk with support from Butterfly conservation. A group can share a transect, which helps cover holiday weeks etc. For more information see. http://www.southwestscotland-butterflies.org.uk/transects/index.shtml.
 
3. One of the easiest ways to record butterflies is to send in casual records of butterflies you see when out for a walk, or in the garden. Every sighting is useful to build a picture of the distribution and abundance of all the species throughout the country. Each record requires a few details for it to be useful: The recorders name and address, the date, the species of butterfly seen, the number seen, and the location with a grid reference. A recording form is available here at http://www.southwestscotland-butterflies.org.uk/butterfly_records/index.shtml. All records are passed onto the national Butterflies for the New Millennium scheme organised by Butterfly Conservation and will be used to create distribution maps that can track changes in butterfly distribution throughout the country. Every county in the UK is covered by the recording scheme, so please keep a note of any butterflies that you see when on holiday too.
A good description of how to work out a grid reference can be found here:
http://www.butterfly-conservation.org/text/65/instructions_for_recorders.html
 
 
4. South West Scotland is home to a large number of Moth species. Moth recording is an important part of Butterfly Conservation’s work. There are many varied species of moths throughout SW Scotland and it is well worth spending the time to study them. The National Moth Recording Scheme was set up in 2007 to provide a national database for macro-moths in the UK. This is a major step forward for moth recording in the UK. The branch area contains a number of moth species that are declining, rare or extinct in other parts of the UK, with over 854 species of macro-moths recorded in the branch area so far.

Conservation work is currently underway in the branch area to preserve the habitat of endangered burnet moths on the West Coast of Scotland. However you don’t need to travel to remote areas to record moths and provide useful data. You can record moths found in your garden using a light trap or a technique called wine/sugar roping to attract passing individuals, but even records of moths that come to your kitchen window could be very useful!

The branch has a number of moth traps available for members to borrow so they can have a go at light trapping, and a number of moth trapping events are run each year where you can come along and get an idea of what it’s all about (see events page on the branch website). There is also a network of vice county moth recorders throughout the UK, who collate all of the moth records in a particular county and who would be more than willing to help you with identifications and offer advice on how to get started. There is also a Yahoo group for Scottish moth recorders where members can post details of what they’ve caught recently or ask for Id help. We are luck enough to have some fantastically knowledgeable and experienced moth recorders in Scotland willing to help beginners get started. http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/ScottishMoths/

For more information on recording moths and details of free training courses see the Moths Count website at http://www.mothscount.org/site/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1

Please get in touch if you’d like to take part in any of the surveys, try moth trapping or set up your own transect and the committee will be glad to help with any questions and advice. If you’d like specific training for any of the recording schemes or just want to discuss your ideas, please get in contact and we’ll do are best to help you.

Best wishes and happy recording in 2009!

Scott Shanks



 

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »

Powered by WordPress