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
 

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