Thursday, 2 October 2014

Moth Mysteries

I'm becoming increasingly wary of photographing moths.  It isn't that they're any less beautiful than the rest of the wildlife we have around here - many are stunningly beautiful - it's just that, each time I process yet another moth picture on the computer, I'm coming to dread trying to identify it.

There are said to be about 2,400 moth species in Britain.  A good site like UKMoths has pictures of over 2,200 of them, but the prospect of wading through that number to try to identify something that I found on the plastic washing basket in the utility room appals me.

I keep trying.  I think both of these are rustics, though I wouldn't hazard a guess as to which of the several types of rustic they are.  If they're both rustics, they both liked our utility room, this one trying to camouflage itself against the tile floor.

I gave up on this one, though it seems to have the same sort of coronet on his head as the other two. It, at least, stayed outdoors.

But the prettiest of the recent finds is this one, another one for which, try as I have, I cannot find an identification.  It was a lovely coppery hue, and had two very distinctive dark spots on its wings.

With autumn arriving, I've considered setting up a moth trap using a light and a sheet, but daren't, dreading the time it would take to try to identify those that flew into it.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

TMSA Young Trad Tour Concert

TMSA Young Trad Tour Concert

In February this year six of the best young musicians in Scotland competed in the BBC Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year awards, held at the City Halls, Glasgow. This was the culmination of months of auditions and heats to narrow down the breadth of Scotland's musical talent to six worthy finalists.

The televised final involved all six finalists showcasing their talent by performing their own arrangements within a timeframe of 15 -18 minutes. The competition between all six finalists was extremely close with the judges finally voting Robyn Stapleton from Stranraer as the 2014 winner. Also within the group of finalists was Neil Ewart from Kilchoan who impressed with his fiddle playing.

 Off the back of the final the 2014 Tour is now underway and involves visiting the home locations of all this year's finalists, and we are fortunate to be welcoming such talent to Kilchoan. The group is also pleased to have with them last year's winning finalist Paddy Callaghan.

The list of finalists were as follows: 

Mhairi Marwick - Fiddle (Fochabers)

Alistair Iain Paterson - Piano (Bishopton)

Ian Smith - Accordian (Tiree)

Robyn Stapleton - Scots song (Stranraer)

Jack Badcock - Guitar, Song (Edinburgh)

Neil Ewart - Fiddle (Kilchoan)

We hope you can join us for what will be a great evening of musical entertainment.

Concert to be held at Kilchoan Community Centre.

Monday 6th October at 8pm.

Legless Birds

It was our interest in this one-legged sparrow, now called Hoppity, that brought to our attention the number of small birds which have problems with their legs.  Considering how incredibly spindly these appendages are, it isn't really surprising.

While Hoppity has only lost the lower part of his leg, and seems to have led a perfectly normal life, including finding a mate and bringing up at least one chick, others are less fortunate.  This young sparrow seems to have lost a complete leg, and doesn't look very happy about his lot.

The blackbirds have had a very good year for bringing up families.  At least two pairs of blackbirds have been visiting our bird tables, one from the east and one from the west, the latter being responsible for considerable depredations in our strawberry and raspberry crops.  The chicks, an unusually demanding lot, have been successfully reared, but.... of them has a deformed foot.  She looks perfectly healthy otherwise, so hopefully we'll be able to follow her progress through the winter.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Sanna's Summer Wildflowers

On a late summer walk at Sanna we found the dunes of the machair a mass of bluebells, Campanula rotundifolia, harebell to the English. The dune bluebells seem to have shorter stalks, and most are a washed-out blue, but they vary from almost white to a very pretty pale purple.

To appreciate the beauty of this little flower requires the help of a magnifying glass or macro lens on a camera.  It's eyebright, Euphrasia officialis, and it's everywhere.

Water mint, Mentha aquatica, is to be found growing in the damp ground just to the north of the car park, conveniently placed for those who have access to a leg off one of the many lambs that are running around.
The trouble with being purple is that so many other flowers at this time of year, particularly the heathers, are a similar colour, so the rarer species are likely to get overlooked.  We'd never identified this lovely little flower before.  It's autumn gentian, Gentiana amarella, and we only found it in a few places.

Not all the heathers are white.  This is a white variant of the normal, lilac ling which is having a very good year.  Looking closely, it's not quite white but has touches of colour.

On every walk we come across something we can't identify, and this is a good example.  Part of the trouble may be that it may not yet be in full flower, but perhaps someone could suggest a name.

Monday, 29 September 2014

A Third Standing Stone?

There are two recognised standing stones on West Ardnamurchan.  One is at Branault.  It's one of a pair which stood close together, but the second was broken and removed, though its stump is still visible.  An earlier blog post about it is here.

A much more widely-known standing stone is on the flat land close to the water at Camas nan Geall.  Although the original stone probably dates to the Bronze Age, it has Christian symbols, a cross and a dog, carved on it which may date to around the time of St Columba's visit to the bay.

One of the most frustrating things about having an interest in archaeology is when one stumbles across something like this - a stone standing on its end which might, just might also be a standing stone.  It's right next to a natural outcrop of rock from which it might have been separated but, in these circumstances, one would have expected it to have fallen over.  It stands not far from the cairn of Mhuchdragain, on the old road between Camas nan Geall and Kilchoan.

The location of the new standing stone is shown on a map here.