Monday, 29 August 2016

Butterflies

It's good to see that the national media has caught up with something we've been well aware of - that the number of butterflies has plummeted this year. Their interest - see Guardian report here - has been excited by a press release from Butterfly Conservation which reports that small tortoiseshell numbers have dropped by 73% since the 1970s, but we're sure it isn't only the tortoiseshell that's suffering.

Looking back in the blog, the only picture I have published this year of a small tortoiseshell was back in July - here - and I reported seeing one in a post in March.

Our big buddleia, which produces masses of flowers each year and usually attracts plenty of butterflies, hardly had a visit during its flowering - I celebrated the arrival of a peacock here - and walking in Ardnamurchan's hills we've seen far fewer butterflies than usual.

In our wanderings today we saw several whites, and just one other butterfly - this peacock, which seemed intent on warming itself on the tarmac, and....

....yesterday, on a beautifully sunny day when there should have been butterflies everywhere, we saw a painted lady, two scotch arguses, a brown butterfly of some description, and a few whites.

I don't think it's butterflies alone that are suffering this year. Although there are bumblebees around - this one was visiting a montbretia in our front garden this morning - there don't seem to be as many as one would expect on a warm, sunny morning in August.

Anything I report is the result of very unscientific, very personal observation, but it's getting to the point where I think that us old ones, who can remember a world in which butterflies seemed everywhere in summer, need to start wondering what sort of countryside we're leaving to future generations.

Sunrise

This picture of sunrise across Kilchoan Bay this morning may not compare too favourably with yesterday's spectacular north coast sunset photos, but it charts another step in the seasons. Today, as seen from our house, the sun broke the horizon on the left shoulder of Beinn na h-Urchrach. In a few days' time, as we progress towards winter, it'll be rising over Ben Hiant itself.

Lost iPhone

If anyone has lost an iPhone recently, it's been found at Portuairk. It's on its way to the Kilchoan Hotel, where it will wait patiently for its owner.

On community matters, the Kilchoan Community Centre has its AGM this evening, at 8pm in the community centre.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

East of Mingary

In bright sunshine and a light northerly wind, we walked today into the rolling hills to the east of Mingary.

It's land which the Ardnamurchan Estate uses to graze its cattle but these share it quite happily with sheep and the occasional deer.

This red deer stag is an exceptionally fine specimen, ready for the annual rut.

By kind permission of Holly and Chris Bull, the managers at Mingary Castle, we walked round to the sea side to take pictures of the one part of the refurbishment which I hadn't recorded - the sea wall which protects the base of the cliff on which the castle stands from erosion by the sea. It's made of reinforced concrete to a very high specification, but then clad with the local stone.

We were very pleased to hear that the first three months of the castle's new role as top-end accommodation for visitors have proved very successful.

The only butterflies in real evidence recently have been two species of white, but today we had the good luck, and the pleasure, of watching a painted lady which....

....was the devil to photograph as it would only sit still in one place for a few moments, but luck finally allowed....

....one picture of the spectacular underside of this locally rare beauty.

Last Night's Sunset

This picture of last night's sunset, taken by Kilchoan Early Bird, looks across Ardnamurchan Point lighthouse towards Coll, just visible along the horizon to the left of the shot.

As the sun sank, the colours became more extreme. These two pictures come from Ritchie Dinnes and were taken looking along Ardnamurchan's north coast from Kilmory, with....

....the island of Muck visible at right.

Red sky at night is a shepherd's delight. The prediction was correct - we've had a stunningly warm and sunny day today.

Many thanks to Ritchie and KEB for the pictures.