Blog 2008-11
Latest weather
BUBO Listing
Nature Blogs
UK & Eire Natural History Bloggers

It's easy to subscribe to email updates, just enter your email address below and then whenever my blog is updated you'll receive an email. Rest assured that it's just as easy to unsubscribe if you get fed up with my ramblings!

Recent Comments
Hebridean Imaging
Hebridean Imaging

Never a dull moment…

The week started out with a trip up to North Uist last Saturday to Claddach Kirkibost. Bill next door and myself had volunteered to man the Curracag (Outer Hebrides Natural History Society) stand at the “Watch out for Wildlife in Uist” event. The other stands were occupied by representatives from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS), Fiona Crouch from The Shore Thing project run by the Marine Biological Association, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Machair Life project.

Curracag Stand

The Curracag Stand at the Watch out for Wildlife in Uist event

On the Curracag stand we were not only chatting to people about the local natural history society and the newly set up Curracag Wildlife News Forum but also making people aware of the Outer Hebrides Biological Recording Project (OHBRP) which has been part-funded by Curracag and aims to encourage people to submit records of their sightings. The aims of the OHBRP are stated as: “the OHBRP was formed to collect and collate records of the distribution and numbers of animals and plants which are found in the Outer Hebrides and outlying islands. This information will be made freely available to promote interest in the wildlife of the islands, to maintain and enhance biodiversity and protect our natural environment. The objective is to ensure that accurate information on the flora and fauna of the area is available to local government, environmental agencies developers and land managers to inform decisions that may affect our natural environment.

I think that in the past people/bodies/institutions have been over to the islands studying various aspects of the natural world here and the findings and sightings have disappeared somewhere into the ether.

Ian turned up sometime late morning (well, OK i’d forgotten a couple of things and he brought them along for me), you know what he’s like, always one for chatting up the ladies so while he was there he got chatting to the WDCS Shorewatch team and told them “oh yes, sign us up”. Sign us up turned out to be “sign Yvonne up”…

When i got home we noticed a pair of Mute Swans in the field at the back. They had 7 cygnets with them which didn’t look more than a day or two old. One of the cygnets was hitching a ride on the female’s back.

Mute Swan carrying young cygnet

Mute Swan carrying cygnet on it's back

Bill next door also got an amazing photo of them – a sheep had approached the family and the male swan took on a threatening pose – wings up and hissing – Bill said that the sheep then walked forwards towards the male swan! Oops bad move! The photo Bill took can be seen on the Curracag Wildlife News forum at Click on the thumbnail there for the larger image.

Sunday looked like a nice day although the breeze was a little cool. As i was now having to travel up to Benbecula to do the Shorewatch training i thought that i may as well travel earlier and join in with Fiona’s Shore Thing which was held at Stinky Bay. Even when you’re over 50 (well, only just!) the lure of a morning splashing about in rock pools looking at all the interesting weeds and critters is just too much to resist.

We found a really interesting Breadcrumb Sponge and anenomes and starfish are always good to see.

Breadcrumb Sponge Halichondria panicea

Breadcrumb Sponge (Halichondria panicea)





One of the most fascinating sights of the day was when we had finished on the beach and headed back to the jetty. There were thousands upon thousands of maggots on the quayside – i have no idea what species these larvae were and i guess they had hatched sometime between the tides. Later on in the day the tide was very high, over the jetty so they would have all been washed off.

maggots - fly larvae

Larvae - species unknown

A picnic lunch and then off to the WDCS Shorewatch training. There were 3  new recruits and we spent the afternoon learning all about how to carry out the Shorewatches, learning about what we might see and how to identify them, the visual differences between dolphins, porpoises and whales. After the theory we all headed out to do a practice watch under the guidance of Kila our trainer and Anya a more experienced watcher.

We’ve had some amazing sunsets and sunrises this week – the skies here never cease to amaze me. This flat calm scene greeted us early one morning as we headed over to check on the Buzzard’s nest.

Summer sunrise South Uist

Summer sunrise, South Uist

At the Buzzard’s nest only one chick remains and it has grown quite a lot since we last saw it. It was big enough to ring now. Sadly the other chick was dead at the side of the nest, it had grown a bit since we had last seen it but was not as big as the one remaining. I don’t know how or why it had died, it had no obvious injuries and it hadn’t become a meal for the remaining chick. Hopefully the one that is left will continue to grown and eventually fledge.

Buzzard chick

Buzzard chick

Ian had posted on the Curracag Forum with a request for samples of ants from around the islands. Having received the first ones he’d sent them off to Rhian last week so that she could identify them. It didn’t take long and we soon had news that there had been two species found: Myrmica ruginodis and Leptothorax acervorum. Only a single Leptothorax acervorum was found all the rest were Myrmica ruginodis. The hunt continues…

I’ve plotted the ones identified so far on a Google map:-

Ant map - click to see a zoomable version

Ant map - click to see a zoomable version

Another flat calm and misty morning and another fab sunrise saw us up at first light to turn off the moth trap and open the nets.

Misty morning South Uist

Misty morning South Uist

Misty morning South Uist

Misty morning, looking south west

A few summer visitors around, we’ve regularly heard Corncrake and a Sedge Warbler was singing away from the garden next door. We’ve ringed both Willow Warbler and Blackcap this week as well.


Blackcap. Second year male.

We’re now up to 50 juvenile House Sparrows this season. Lots of other juveniles around as well with Robin, Song Thrush, Starling, Blackbird and Greenfinch juveniles all turning up for rings. On Monday a pair of adult Siskins appeared in the net, the female of which had a fully developed brood patch.There are still quite a lot of Collared Doves around, in this past week we’ve ringed 6. In their quest to hoover up all our bird seed they somehow manage to squeeze themselves into the ground traps.

We’ve been trying out our new portable moth trap – a Midi Robinson with a 15W actinic light

Robinson Midi 15W Actinic trap

Robinson Midi 15W actinic portable moth trap, nestled under the trees in next door's garden.

Some days we’ve had very little in the traps, other days it has been quite interesting. We’ve again had two species of Hawk-moth – Poplar and Elephant. First for the year this week have been Shark, Map-winged Swift, Small Square-spot and Large Yellow Underwing.

Here’s a selection from the week:-

Map-winged Swift

Map-winged Swift

Brimstone Moth

Brimstone Moth





Monopis weaverella

Micro moth Monopis weaverella

Pleurota bicostella

Micro moth Pleurota bicostella. I know i showed this one last week but the long palps with the spikes on the end really fascinated me

Silver-ground Carpet

Silver-ground Carpet

Amongst the other insects attracted to the light of the moth trap are Caddisflies. Ian has decided that they need further investigation and has been collecting and photographing them. He says that he will write something on here and post some of his photographs – i’ve told him i have quite enough to do with the birds and the moths (and the Shorewatch that he signed me up to!) without getting into Caddisflies as well 🙂

Late Thursday afternoon we lost our internet connection and by Friday morning it still wasn’t back on. What was going on? We eventually found out that thieves had tried to steal a large cable on the mainland which they thought was copper wire (the scrap value of copper is very high at the moment). It turned out that the cable was fibre-optic and it got damaged in the attempt. Thousands of homes were affected and we eventually got our internet connection back at around 8.30pm on Friday.

See this article:

I thought that i would end this weeks blog with a lovely sunset picture, taken last night, Friday 8th June 2012

Sunset South Uist

Sunset, South Uist - looking west