Today I fancied stopping on the route home to enjoy the view and sunshine, as I pulled into an old quarry parking space above Loch na Keal a bright blue butterfly caught my eye and I was engrossed for an hour, metres from the road, but completely enthralled by the busy array of insect life on the verge and hillside. Two male common blue butterflies were regularly disputing their patches and only occasionally settling down among the wildflowers. Wild thyme, fragrant orchids and birds-foot trefoil meant the land was a riot of colour, the latter is an important food plant for the common blue.
Common blue on trefoil
Common blue male
In the same area, but higher up the hill larger orange and black butterflies were rampaging above the bracken, rarely landing. They were large though and I guessed at dark-green fritillary. I stalked the butterflies as best I could to catch a few ID shots and confirm my thoughts, but they never settled for long.
Meadow brown was also spotted, along with another smaller fritillary – this one didn’t settle once in my view so I can’t say for sure, but it’s most likely to be small-pearl bordered fritillary. Dragonflies were also on the wing and I enjoyed my first golden-ringed of the year. Grasshoppers were in full flow, the ground almost vibrated with their sounds and bees were enjoying the nearby foxgloves.
I’ll submit all of my butterfly records to my local recorder, as I do for my moth trapping records and this all helps inform conservation of the species. Surprisingly Mull is extremely under-recorded for many species, excepting eagles and otters, so do send in records to the appropriate conservation body.
Last night I put out my moth trap and spent this morning battling midges to ID them all. At the moment I’m trying to trap once a week if time and weather allow and all of the records are sent to the local moth recorder (and then Butterfly Conservation), contributing to knowledge of moths in the area – surprisingly on Mull very few people moth trap and so the group is under recorded.
Below is my species list for last nights trap, although I have two moths I am yet to identify. I also had a caddis fly in their, but I’ve no idea which species yet – apparently we have around 200 to choose from!
Somehow, a poplar hawkmoth made it from the trap to the bookshelf without me spotting it, so it spent all day tucked away among books and a violin till I just happened to spot it!
The Clouded buff and the Peacock moths were new for me, which is always interesting. Moth trapping is a brilliant way learn and connect to new species. I’m never fail to be surprised at the incredible colours and detail.
Get involved with Moth Night 2016 next weekend (9th-11th June). Head along to an organised event or put out your own moth trap. The focus is on hawk moths this time, so see how many large beauties you can marvel at.