Thursday 30 August 2018

Evening sunshine

Pretty good evening around the garden and with a wander down the hill. Enjoying a beer and scoping across the lochs when an interesting looking chat popped up so I temporarily abandonned the Hopopotamus and wandered down the hill. The chat turned out to be a Wheatear but the goose scarer went off and flushed the last two of the 22 Blackwits and a Green Sand that I had missed earlier. Good views and pix were then obtained of the two juv Goldeneye that had been feeding on The Shunan all day. Quite pleased with myself the dog and I returned to the beer. Picking out a Ruff amongst the Lapwing on Loch of Bosquoy and seeing the wagtail roost of about 40 birds scoping again from the garden an Osprey flew in to view and proceeded to spend the next 20 minutes or so fishing Loch of Bosquoy and the northern shore of Loch of Harray.

Plus a Red Admiral and Nebria brevicollis.

Sunday 12 August 2018

Marwick Head

Brilliant afternoon at Marwick Head with loads of insects up near the monument on Spear Thistle, thanks to AL for the heads up. Moths - Hummingbird Hawk, 2; Silver Y, 20; Agriphila straminiella, lots; Twin-spot Carpet, 2; White Ermine (cat) 1. Butterflies - Peacock, 1; Red Admiral, 2; Painted Lady, 12; Common Blue, 1. Bees - Great Yellow Bumblebee, huge number! Common Carder, and various black, white and yellow beasts which I might try to identify later (Bombus lucorum agg photo below).

Hummingbird Hawk was a county tick and only the second Peacock I've seen since we've been here.

Wednesday 8 August 2018

Wild raspberries

We've been on holiday, I'll maybe post some pictures later. We didn't travel all that far, just over the Pentland Firth and then west to a few miles beyond Durness. For the first time we left the offspring at home, left them in charge of the house, scary! (But they managed well and we returned to an orderly home, well done girls!)

 Foinavon, I decided we should walk up this from the cottage, mmmm, ambitious. We didn't quite make it to the top but a wonderful walk none-the-less.

From the lower slopes of Foinavon, with Arkle on the left and Ben Stack on the right, Quinag in the far distance. We went up Stack later in the week, the hill Robin Cook died on (hard to believe that was 13 years ago, almost to the day). I thought of Robin and his principled politics as we went up the Stack. I don't believe that so many opportunities would have been missed if Cookie had been in charge rather than B&B. Let alone the mess that is today. Half that walk was a compass and map job as the upper half was clagged in, and it's quite narrow on the top ridge. Ptarmigan family near the top.

Today has been a tad of a stress as it was SQA results day with one awaiting National 5s and the other an additional Higher and a couple of Advanced Highers. Our postie does not arrive until mid-afternoon so there was considerable fretting and pacing for much of the day, a good bit of which I cunningly evaded by taking the dog for a walk and hiding in the garden (always a reasonable ruse). Sitting in the garden it is possible to spot the postie some distance away as he delivers along the Russland Road and then makes his way back to us, the advanced warning created more commotion, eventually official looking envelopes arrived and certificates were examined and... the tears were of joy, phew!

I cooked a favourite meal, flat breads with refried beans and loads of salad, a fair bit of it now sourced from the garden - spring onions, beetroot, cucumber.

The dog needed another walk. Pudding was eaten enroute.

Very much tastier than the shop bought ones.

I've recently found Geum urbanum, Wood Avens, on this walk, not a common plant here, but there are a few plants behind our outside kitchen seat. It's odd how you can walk past something a hundred times or more and not see it, only recently did I realise it grew just up the track.

There were cattle in the field  blocking my route, so along the road and up a trackway, where we found Emperor Moth in the spring. A glance down and loads of Twayblade, took me back to Kent and orchid hunting.

Then a tramp on, head down, collecting seeds for the "meadow", Yellow Rattle and various compositae and grasses. I'm trying to change the species composition by introducing a new cutting regime and dispersing seeds. Cattle going a bit mad next to us.

Common Gulls

Loads of Udea lutealis on the way, with the occasional Twin-spot Carpet and still a few Agriphila straminella.

 Udea lutealis on Tufted Vetch.

At the end of the field what to do? Head down the hill, not a route I usually take at this point and, loads of Tansy, that's a surprise.

One of my favourite plants.

In the morning I had run the moth traps. This is not my favourite time of year for mothing here as it is Large Yellow Underwing time, big, flappy, crawly moths. However, Agonopterix umbellana was NFY (if not NFG) and Acleris effractana is NFM (if confirmed) and just a very good find.

Not the best pix....

I've failed here to mention the huge numbers of hoverflies that are currently around in coastal locations. Yesterday, probably 1,000+ Eupeodes corollae at Marwick, and today 500 Episyrphus balteatus at the same site. Impressive.

Eupeodes corollae.

Episyrphus balteatus.

Holodyke as I made for home.