Monday, 30 April 2012

Swimming Crab - Tom Redman

Swimming Crab, Macropipus depurator - Tom Redman

Unidentified marine egg strings - Tom Redman

Any ideas as to identity anyone?

Hermit Crab - Tom Redman

Common Hermit Crab (Pagurus berhardus) - Tom Redman

Unidentified starfish - Tom Redman

We are unsure of the identity of this starfish caught and photographed by Tom.  It looks like a type of cushion star (similar to Asterina gibbosa but I am fairly sure it is not that species).  Any ideas anyone?

Spiny Spider Crab - Tom Redman

Spiny Spider Crab, Maja squinado.  Another cracking shot from Tom Redman.

Spiny Starfish - Tom Redman

Spiny Starfish - Marthasterias glacialis
The first of a nice sequence of photographs from fisherman Tom Redman, via Mary McGregor.  Many thanks to them.  This first spiny starfish is relatively easy to identify...

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Ringed Plover from Iceland

Pia Haley found a dead Ringed Plover on the Uiskentuie Strand yesterday. There was no obvious sign how it had died. It was carrying a metal ring and three colour rings. The metal ring was issued by the Natural History Museum in Reykjavik, Iceland, and an e-mail to them was responded to in under an hour, which is pretty good service.
The bird, an adult female, had been caught on the nest on 28th May 2008, in Dýrafjörður, in the extreme north-west of Iceland.
Ringed Plovers from Iceland pass north in spring, and south in autumn, through western Scotland and Ireland, wintering as far south as Spain and west Africa. They thus fly much further than our locally breeding birds which either stay within Britain and Ireland or move no further than France. The Iceland birds are thus indulging in a phenomenon known as "leap-frog' migration.

A live Ringed Plover

Sunday, 22 April 2012

The International Space Station - James Deane & Niall Colthart

Surely one of James' most impressive night shots to date.  James tells us: "The ISS (Space station) has been making a few good passes this week. Although it orbits every 90 minutes or so, it's elliptical paths only hit these latitudes every few weeks, typically between 205 and 255 miles above the earth...
"Anyways you have to know when it's passing as it goes eastwards pretty quick (17,000mph)... I have seen it plenty of times, but only got it on camera last night, from Soldiers Rock at around 23:30.
"Niall Colthart was shooting with me, not sure he got the ISS in a capture, as he was helping this particular exposure by flooding the rock with torchlight for me. So credit to him too!
"As ever, Venus lending plenty of light here, clarity helped by a new moon...
"Guessing this will be the last night pic you see from me until November/December :((..."

Early Purple Orchid

Early Purple Orchid - Orchis mascula
I forgot to mention the flowers I saw yesterday. (Shame on me!) The area is botanically rich due to the limestone: Primrose, Lesser Celandine, Early Purple Orchid, Milkwort, Lousewort, Tormentil (a single flower), Dog Violet. I was delighted to see the Early Purple Orchid (I assume that's what it is).

Saturday, 21 April 2012


Believe it or not, I found somewhere on Islay that I'd never been to before! Malcolm had recommended this walk in Barradale some time ago, so, with the sun shining and cumulus clouds providing near optimal photo opportunities, I set off from Cattadale and walked round to Loch Bharradail. This really was a lovely walk. The highlights were about half a dozen pairing Green Hairstreak butterflies and these two beetles which I got quite excited about - especially the bigger one. Hopefully we'll get them identified soon.

Beetle (1)

Beetle (2)

Green Hairstreak

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Images from the cattle sale last weekend.

Snail Shells - Ardnave

There were lots of these small spiral snail shells among the sand dunes at Ardnave.  I have not been able to achieve a convincing identification - ideas anyone? - Carl 

Walk up Giùr-bheinn

I had a fantastic walk up this beautiful mountain yesterday and witnessed again further signs of spring: Primroses, lizards, Willow Warblers and this beetle scurrying across the bog. It's about an inch long and I think the photo's better than the last one. Any ideas anyone? (Crystal?)
Summit of Giùr-bheinn


Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Rainbow from Bowmore

Good rainbow weather at the moment!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Squall over Bowmore

A wintry squall passing over Bowmore this afternoon (Malcolm)

Monday, 16 April 2012

Sanaig Rocks Walk

Jim and I set off from Sanaigmore today for a wonderful walk up Sanaig rocks, to Traigh Bhan and back to the road. Traigh Bhan is where 108 of the 241 victims of the Exmouth disaster were buried in 1847 so it is quite a poignant, as well as a tranquil spot.

Oh what joy to see my first Green Hairstreak of the year - at first I thought I'd mistaken it for a leaf, but no there it was, holding its own in the strongish wind near the summit of the rocks. Later Jim saw his first ever adder - a male, curled up basking in the sun right next to the road. By the time I'd recovered from the excitement of seeing the adder, he had slithered calmly away before I'd got my camera out! To top it all (literally), a Golden Eagle flew right over our heads.

We also saw this tiny green jumping beetle which I'm hoping Crystal can identify. It was difficult to take a good photo as it was so tiny and I put my hand deliberately there for scale.

How fortunate we are to live on this wonderful island where the mighty and the mites dwell in (relative) harmony.
Green Hairstreak

Oh dear, the picture's worse than I thought!

Birds: Raven, Lapwing, Golden Eagle, Starling, Sand Martin, Wren, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Oystercatcher, Chough, Ringed Plover, Shag, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Hooded Crow, Kestrel, Curlew, Pied Wagtail

A little bit of Bruichladdich in Ghana

Peter Roberts bought a barrel of Bruichladdich when the distillery reopened in 2001. The spirit was put into a fresh sherry cask on September 19th 2001 and bottled 10 years later on September 23rd 2011. His label features one of our iconic ...Islay birds, the Chough. Peter, who lives close to the distillery, tells us: "The whisky is absolutely gorgeous, and it is one of life's little perks and delights to have so much of it that I can take a bottle with me on my travels guiding people on worldwide birdwatching tours - just in case there is a need for a special celebration.

 "I recently arranged a tour to Ghana for a group of eleven of us including my partner Pia - all keen birdwatchers prepared to put up with the intense heat and humidity of West African tropical forests, the dodgy accommodation, poor roads and boring food in order to find amongst a good range of interesting birds ("interesting" for a birdwatcher anyway!) 1-2 very special species. One of our "target birds" for this tour was the Rockfowl or Picathartes.
"The Rockfowl is up there in top eschelons of rare, obscure and "must see" birds for keen birdwatchers. They make swallow-like mud-cup nests on rock faces within remote forests, gaining them "mythical" status to the cognescenti - and definitely something worth celebrating once seen.

 "My group (including one man in his 80s) hiked about an hour and half into the forest with excellent guides from the local village. Soaked in sweat, we sat still and quiet as dusk fell to await the Rockfowl's return to the overhanging rocks where they roost. We were not disappointed. We had great views of five of these bizarre, lanky, black and white birds with bald heads (see photo).

 "After the exhilaration of finally seeing this creature, we stumbled back through the forest in the dark and drove a couple of hours to our hotel for the night. This was exactly the special occasion that warranted the enjoyment of a bottle of my own 10 year old Bruichladdich Single Malt!"

Unidentified Fly

I have asked the Dipterist Forum for help with the ID of this one...  Rather splendid antennae.  Found resting on sawn timber in Ballygrant wood.  About 20mm long.  Any ideas anybody?  Carl

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Goose pressure on grazing

When we experience a period of lovely weather such as we have enjoyed recently it is easy to quickly forget what a difficult winter we have just had.  The fields are in a very poor condition.  Grass growth has been very limited, and the grazing pressure from geese extreme.  The fields around Gruinart have been literally stripped of every blade.  The green tinge that you can still see is almost entirely moss.  The big flocks appear to have now left however, so the ground will have a chance to recover.

"Dove's Foot" or "Soft" Cranesbill - Geranium molle Ardnave

Chough - Ardnave

Ballygrant Loch

Wheatear - Tayvullin

Primroses - Bruichladdich

Young otter tracks - Ardnave

Merlin - Ardnave

Sycamore and sunshine - Ballygrant

James Deane at Saligo

Three lovely shots from Saligo - taken by James yesterday.  Many thanks...

Bombus pascuorum - Common Carder bumble bee

Ballygrant Wood

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Gall wasp

I suspect these galls, found near Ballygrant, are the work of gall wasps of some kind - Carl

Peacock Butterfly

An extremely battered-looking Peacock butterfly that must have over-wintered and was out enjoying some spring sunshine near Ballygrant today.

Paps of Jura from Ballygrant Loch

Timber at Ballygrant

Large piles of sawn timber are waiting by the track next to Loch Ballygrant

There are still significant amounts of trees to be seen that were blown down by the winter storms in Ballygrant woods.

Cowslip - Sunderland

Loch Gorm

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Kilchiaran Bay

Kilchiaran Bay earlier today.  Now squeaky clean following a quality beach clean this morning by a team led by Briar Maxwell

Kilchiaran Chapel

The remains of Kilchiaran Chapel.  Fourteenth Century.  Kilchiaran is traditionally considered to be one of the many places that Columba called in at on his way from Ireland to Iona.  His journey was made in the sixth century however - so pre-dates the existing building by around eight hundred years....