Tuesday, 7 July 2015

East of Ockle Wildlife

With the warm weather, there was so much more to see in the way of wildlife on our walk last Wednesday to the east of Ockle.  On the track between Ockle and Eilagadale, we came across this very smart beetle, a common sexton, Nicrophorus vespilloides. We've seen one once before, and a passenger on that beetle prompted a blog post - here.  The previous beetle had one passenger.  Look carefully at this one, and he has at least nine.  Are they ticks?

Not much further along the track we found this even smarter beetle, one we've seen before along the Ockle track but not elsewhere.  It's a green tiger beetle, Cicindela campestris, a fast-running hunter who simply would not stay still for long enough for a good picture.

Suddenly the dragonflies were out, particularly the big, golden ringed dragonflies.  Along the Allt Eilagadale we found this twin-winged beauty, a dragonfly we've seen only once before, a four spotted chaser, Libellula quadrimaculata.

We returned from the last of the lochans we visited by a more direct route (see map below), which took us down to Allt eas a' Ghaidheil, the burn of the Gael's waterfall, one of the tributaries of the Allt Ockle. It's probably one of the best stretches of water for damselflies - this is the aptly named beautiful damselfly, Calopteryx virgo.

The many butterflies which were out were all on the wing and therefore impossible to photograph, except for these two.  They're small heaths, Coenonympha pamphilus, doing what all the others were probably chasing around trying to do.

While the round leaved sundew is easy to identify, the two species with the more elongate leaves are far more difficult to distinguish.  What was noticeable on our walk was how many there were underfoot, perhaps thriving in the wet year we're enjoying.

Sometimes we had the feeling that everywhere we went we were being watched.  The whole area was pockmarked with the prints of red deer, their tracks a useful path across some of the more difficult terrain. We enjoyed stopping to watch them, but the biggest excitement of the day came from an encounter with a golden eagle, which we surprised when we emerged from a narrow glen.  The eagle took off immediately above our heads with a great rushing of wings, the closest we've ever been to one of these magnificent birds - but all far too sudden to get a picture.

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