Islay - Blog


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Islay - Blog

  • Autumn on the moor...

    The moorland looks amazing at the moment on RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve. The heather is in full bloom; the hills are purple and the air is sweet! 

    This last flush of colour is a sign of autumn.  I was out on our moorland seeking out marsh fritillary caterpillars, an other autumnal character.

    They feast on devils-bit scabious alone, which is often found in moorland fringes. They form these webs for safety and warmth.

    To add a bit of luck to my day I found a couple of patches of white heather, which stood out like snow in a coal yard.

    The luck showed itself shortly afterwards when an osprey flew overhead with a fish in its talons and circled me for about 10 minutes before flying off.  I took a picture, but I think it is destined for Mark's photography corner...

    I'm not sure how it is possible for a camera to make a bird seem further away...


  • All change!

    Well I thought I'd continue the 'change' theme seeing as it's my last day volunteering for the RSPB on Islay (sniffle)......until I return for a month in October! Hurrah! Anyone who hasn't tried residential volunteering yet, I heartily recommend it! It’s a fantastic way of supporting the work the RSPB do, even if it’s for a couple of weeks, and a truly great experience. I’m sad to be leaving even though I’m coming back.

    So, back to what else is changing around here. The last few days has brought strong winds, and the late brood of swallows nesting on the South Hide have been practicing their flying skills before their long journey south, learning how to use the wind and alternating this with clinging on to the vegetation outside the windows! Here’s a couple of pics – you can still see the white gape on this fledgling.


    And every day for the last 3 days I’ve seen a Small Copper butterfly on the trails leading up to the hides – looks very fresh. The Small Copper has two broods in the year, the later one being end July-September hence their current flight period.

    And as for the weather....


    Yes this truly is an amazing place. I'll be back! ;-D

  • Seasons of Change

    Fox moth larvae are one of the more commonly seen and conspicuous caterpillars on Islay through autumn and early winter. This is an early instar and will change colour and grow a great deal, though the yellow bands usually remain pretty distinctive.

    The change from summer to autumn is well under way here at the Oa, with Devil's-bit scabious abundant and the heather in bloom. Nettles and other vegetation are dying back quite rapidly now and there's a chill in the morning air that has had Alasdair and I looking out the heavy gloves and layers in preparation for the thrills of another Oa winter. We said goodbye to Geraint and Remi this week, both of whom have migrated south with no return date. Thanks and good luck to them both.

    This is currently the view from Beinn Mhor looking west(ish) towards Kinnabus farm and the Rhinns of Islay in the background.