May 2010

Apologies for my lichen mix. The rare lichen at Treshnish is Arthothelium macounii not Arthothelium dictyosporum as I stated earlier in this diary.
On the 31st I went to photograph the Haunn Corncrake. It called as I approached but I waited for about 2 hours and it didn’t call again (it got quite cold). The Treshnish bird was calling in the boathouse field at midnight. 3 House Martins flew by while I waited for the Haunn Corncrake. There were 4 Twite showing well at Toechtamhor cottage, Haunn, the Wheatears in the nest there have not fledged yet. In the Port Haunn-Treshnish Point area there was a family of 6 Ravens which have been fledged for several days. There were 2 agitated and obviously breeding Ringed Plovers at Port Haunn.
A Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk moth was at Langamull [I am pretty sure I remember Tom Prescott telling me that someone had seen one between Croig and Langamull in 2007] (Ruth Fleming and Stuart Gibson on Mullbirds).
I could only briefly look for Oysterplant at Port Haunn because of the breeding waders there but  I found the only the one plant from last year protected in a small stone shelter I built to keep the sheep off. I have only once seen it flower there. The photo can be found on the Plant photo link on the right. Fragrant Orchid is emerging at Haunn and Greater Butterfly-orchid and Northern Marsh-orchid there is flowering. The vivid intensity of the colour of the red emerging orchids (Northern-marsh and Fragrant) and Red Clover is startling.
After I had given up I went to look for Small Adder’s-tongue fern Ophioglossum azoricum at a known site at Port Haunn. I have looked for it before there but I was looking for a special habitat and as there are some new drainage ditches, I assumed the habitat had changed. Now after seeing the Adder’s-tongue, Ophioglossum vulgatum yesterday I found it almost immediately! There were about 56 plants which were all vegetative, perhaps the sexual parts will emerge later.
.This is one of the rarest plants we have at Treshnish.

Here is a map of its distribution.

On the 30th the Haunn Corncrake was calling and seen by guests at East cottage.
I had two sighting of a possible Goshawk at Glengorm both times flying to and from the same place; from just behind the cliffs to the north of the castle into the conifers to the east. It had the build of a  Peregrine with that birds broad wing base but with blunt wing tips and accipiter-type flight.
This Meadow Pipit nest at Glengorm (NM4457).At the same square there were also at least 3 Shags nests with chicks (one nest had 2 chicks), 9 Herring Gulls on nests, agitated Rock Pipits, a newly fledged Grey Wagtail.
Leena found a Common Gull nest with eggs at Treshnish lochan (either on 30th or 31st)

A Red Deer faun approached me very closely at Glengorm.There was a Black-throated Diver off from Tostary (Arthur Brown) and I saw and heard a pair of Red-throated Divers displaying there.

At Tostary (NM3845) there was 1 Four-spotted Chaser dragonfly, 1 Speckled Wood butterfly and 2 Silver Y moths. Obviously I was way-off in predicting the last of the Green Hairstreak butterflies a couple of weeks ago because today there was yet another at the top of the Torloisk-Dervaig road (NM4247).
At Glengorm there was 1 Northern Eggar moth caterpillar and 7 Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary butterflies. This spot looks good for Slender Scotch Burnet moth.
I also found 2 Thyme Broomrape, Hemp-agrimony, Scots Lovage, Colt’s-foot, Dwarf Juniper, Aspen, Field Forget-me-not (flowering), Common Valerian (about to flower) at Glengorm cliffs. I see on NBN Gateway that Gordon Rothero (whilst surveying for Lynne Farrell’s book on Mull Flora) also saw 9 Thyme Broomrape plants at Glengorm in 1997. I also found 1 Narrow-leaved Helleborine at a new site at Tostary.I was given a site for Adder’s-tongue Fern at Kellan Mill, Loch na Keal.Yellow Iris was flowering at Tostary.
On the 29th both Corncrakes still present at sunset. The Haunn male started moving in the evening and was last heard by me outside the fenced garden near West cottage right beside the foot-path. It is better it is out of the garden but lets hope it is not getting restless. The Treshnish bird sounded like it was still in the boathouse field.
There were 74 adult Starlings (no juveniles) at the cow-barn before their sunset flight to the roost-cave at Treshnish Point (also about 50 a week ago). Snipe were heard calling and drumming at Haunn. Drumming is also heard most days at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
At Calgary there was 1 dark-phase Arctic Skua (Andy and Helen Mortley).
The Latham and Wilson families, guest at Shian and Duill cottages, walked down to Dùn Haunn and were rewarded with 20 minutes of superb views of at least 1 (possibly 3) Minke Whales! Helen and Paul Freeman, guests at the Shieling also saw a Minke Whale at about 3pm a little way out below Treshnish House; ‘it swam up and down for a while, doing a double dive every ten minutes or so! Swimming parallel to the shore line- turning frequently and making its whooshing sound from time to time.’  
This is a rare sight at Treshnish but one was also seen on the 21st of this month from Treshnish Point! My only definite sighting was at Treshnish Point on May 31st 2008  and guests saw 1 the next day on 1st June 2008 (note similar dates to this year!).  Other guests saw 1 on 14th of August 2008 and I had a brief sighting of what was probably this species two weeks later on 29th August 2008. Looking through my old logs I also see that guests saw a Minke Whale sometime between 3rd and 17th of June 2006.
Northern Marsh-orchid was just about to flower beside East cottage, and Greater Butterfly-orchids are practically flowering below Toechtamhor cottage, Haunn. Rhubarb which has probably been there since the time of the crofters, is flowering to east of East cottage, Haunn.
On the 28th both Corncrakes were heard calling during the daytime and the Treshnish bird was heard at midnight. There was a Twite in the morning on Duill cottage garden table and in the evening a male below Treshnish house as well as Lesser Redpoll overhead. There were 2 Linnets and 2 Twite , and a recently fledged Meadow Pipit at Haunn cottages, 2 adult Rock Pipits with food for recently fledged young to the east of Ensay Burn mouth and 2 newly fledged Song Thrushes nearby. A Blue-tailed Damselfly was in the Studio garden. A Ruby Tiger moth which I had found as a pupa in our garden on 2nd May emerged today.
Thyme Broomrape is just emerging to the west of Ensay Burn mouth. The new shoots are very close by to the old plant shown hereand presumably they are the from the same root. At the same spot Wild Thyme and Kidney Vetch (which we saw flowering at Glengorm) are flowering and nearby Northern Marsh-orchid is emerging. Marsh Lousewort is flowering along the boggy shoreline below Treshnish House and was also flowering at Ballgown on the 24th.
On the 27th the Haunn Corncrake was calling every 10 minutes or so during the day and showing well on the little hillock inside the Haunn cottages garden. The Treshnish bird has been quiet during evening visits today and yesterday but was calling well tonight. It could be heard from the Nissen-hut beside Treshnish Old Schoolhouse and it is calling from the lower hillocks overlooking the coast in the boathouse field! There were also a few Twite at Haunn, in the fields and on the fences. A great photo opportunity was missed whilst strimming at Toechtamhor cottage, Haunn. On the old grass covered ditch wall outside the cottage gates there is a Wheatear nest which is a burrow in the crack between rocks. I had a quick look for future photo opportunities as so far I have only poor views of gaping mouths, but today one chick was sitting quite peacefully just outside the nest entrance. I went to borrow a camera from the guests in Middle cottage but when we returned the chick had gone back inside! The Wheatear nest at Duill cottage is also still being visited by adults. The flock of about 50 Dunlin were seen again at Dervaig and there were 2 Greylag Geese in the fields below Ensay farmhouse. A Willow Warbler nest with chickswas found at Ensay Burn cattle-grid. Lesser Redpoll were vocal in the boathouse field.
There was 1 Common Scoter in Calgary bay (Arthur Brown).
There was a Green Hairstreak butterfly on the farm-road beside Treshnish wood (11 days after the latest date of previous years) and a Northern Eggar moth caterpillar was allowed to browse on out Gooseberries.
The Mountain Hare was once again in our garden and in the evening one was at Treshnish boathouse.
Common Twaybladeis in flower in the boathouse field. The first one I saw emerging was in the wood and recently had its flowering shoot eaten by something now the ones in the field have caught up. Wood Bitter-vetch Vicia orobus is flowering at Toechtamhor cottage and above the boathouse. Creeping Thistle is about to flower near Treshnish wood and Barren Strawberryand Changing Forget-me-not are flowering below Treshnish House.
On the 26th at Glengorm a Common Sandpiper was flushed off a nest on a cliff slope, a Rock Pipit had food for young and a Fulmar flew around the cliffs. There were 2 adult Greylag Geese with 5 goslings at Loch Peallach, Mishnish and there was 1 female Eider with 4 ducklings at Calgary beach.
Today I found out from experts that a moth I trapped on the 22nd was a new moth for Treshnish (although it has been found on Mull by others). It was Rustic Shoulder-knot.I don’t know what they are like fresh but this seems to be quite worn but you can see the line near the head here which is a diagnostic feature.
We went to Glengorm to look for Spring Squill which has been recorded there. We didn’t find it but instead found a lot of Globeflower on the sea-cliff slopes.Kidney Vetch was also flowering there.
Good news today as the second of our only two known plants of Narrow-leaved Helleborine (Sword-leaved Helleborine) has emerged, has flowers and looks like a fairly good plant. The first one which emerged on the 17th has not recovered enough from being eaten by something for its flowers to open fully. Such a pity as I have not seen both flower in the same year and seed production (judging by the Calgary plants) is not high. They are not thought to reproduce vegetatively nor to self-pollinate so our plants are really struggling as a population. Most botany beginners start with orchids perhaps because of their beauty and rarity but there is another reason to be fascinated by orchids and that is their biology. I highly recommend Orchids of Great Britain and Ireland by Anne and Simon Harrap. Without being at all technical every orchid description is absolutely fascinating, particularly on their reproduction but also on their conservation and their ability to recover from near extinction if we can get the conditions right. Reading up on Narrow-leaved Helleborine I see that they do not produce nectar but lure the pollinating insects by trickery! They look like they should have nectar and fool the insects and therefore they need nectar-producing plants nearby. The one which emerged today Honeysuckle within a few inches and I have cut back the bramble a little to give it some light. They appear to need light. The colony which is doing so well at Calgary is on a south facing slope with an open canopy and the ones at Tràigh Gheal are on south facing cliffs. Ours are on the flat southern edge of the north-facing wood so there are probably no more in this part of the wood but may possibly exist in the less explored parts of the wood further to the west. Exploring the woods at this time of year is not for the feint-hearted because of the ticks and soon the midges.
On the 25th there were 50 Dunlin and 4 Redshanks at Dervaig.
At Treshnish there was 2 Wood Pigeons and a Goldcrest with food for young in the wood and a Spotted Flycatcher exploring a nest site beside the road through the wood.
At Loch Frisa fish-farm there was a Spotted Flycatcher (NM4751/NM45Q) and 1 Red-breasted Merganser and 4 Greylag Geese (NM4651/NM45Q). Over the Loch (NM4849/NM45Z) 2 Red-throated Divers circled upwards when after attaining a great height they flew to the north.
There was an immature Glaucous Gull at Croig (Ruth Fleming on Mullbirds).
There were 2 Red Admirals beside Treshnish wood.
On the 24th there was a Collared Dove in Treshnish wood, 2 House Martins at Ensay Burn below Reudle Schoolhouse, a Curlew agitated by a Buzzard and obviously breeding at Treshnish lochan. The Mountain Hare was again in our garden and 2 Peacock butterflies near Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
Today I found out that the colour ringed Twite seen at Haunn cottages on the 11th of April was ringed at Melrose in the winter of 2008/2009 (Raymond Duncan in litt.). I had heard a week ago that Alan Spellman had a record of a colour ringed Twite on 12 May at Loch na Keal but I failed to check his colours until today and see that they were the same as mine! This could even have been the same bird although that seems unlikely. Apparently a lot of the winter ringed Twite from Grampian are breeding birds from the west-coast of Scotland. Last year Tony Gibson a guest at Toechtamhor cottage, Haunn photographed a colour-ringed Twite on 16th May. This bird was one of 417 Twite ringed at Raggra, near Wick, Caithness in the winter of 2000/2001 between November and March (Hugh Clark in litt).
Whilst out with the vice-county higher-plant recorder at Ballgown on the north shore of Loch Tuath, we saw 4 Greylag Geese, 3 Shelduck, 3 female Eiders with about 10 ducklings (as well as a male eider with 2 females), 1 or 2 Lapwings, 2 Redshank, 2 Whimbrel, 1 House Martin, 2 Starlings at a probable nest site, 2+ House Sparrows at a nest and Wood Pigeon calling. There was a Four-spotted Chaser dragonfly also there. I was shown two new species for me. The first was Parsley-piert (I will leave it to the experts to determine if the plants on Mull are this or Slender Parsley-piert). The second was Mountain Male Fern. We also saw some beautiful female plants of Mountain Everlasting.Red Campion, Sanicle and Bog Stitchwort were flowering there. We also saw Gypsywort which is not common on North Mull.
On the 23rd half an hour in the garden provided some unusual sights. First of all a Collared Dove flying west along the southern edge of Treshnish wood then a Chiffchaff singing and then a Fulmar over Treshnish wood! Collared Dove is uncommon at Treshnish although they are resident at Calgary, Chiffchaff is scarce here with only one sighting per year and I have never seen a Fulmar over Treshnish wood..
In the afternoon there were 3 Wood Pigeons flying west below Treshnish Wood. I haven’t seen one here since the 7th. Buzzard fledglings were calling from Treshnish wood. There were Siskins in Treshnish wood and now I realise that is what I heard about 4 days ago the. I also heard some today in Treshnish House. These are the first of the spring and presumably they will breed. I was wondering where they had got to. Interestingly it seems that local migrants are still arriving because Mike Scott-Ham noted to pairs of Stonechats at Haunn which were not here when he arrived on the 15th. Lesser Redpoll, and singing Goldfinch and Spotted Flycatcher were all showing well in Treshnish wood.
Dianne and Phil Marsh guests at Duill cottage saw a Turnstone at Langamull.
A Northern Eggar moth caterpillar was on our gooseberry bush and a Garden Tiger caterpillar was beside our compost heap and there was a Speckled Wood butterfly in Treshnish wood and a possible fritillary (adult) there.
Last night was a good night for moth trapping (27 species) the best for me was a new one for Treshnish, a Beautiful Brocade,although Tom Prescott and I caught this moth at Croig. The most exotic was this Elephant Hawkmoth.This looks incredibly like one of the post WW2 fighter planes.And this Buff-tip would pass as a piece of birch to any but the eagle eyed.And this Silver Y is a migrant
and it is 6 days earlier than my previous earliest record.
Marsh Thistle was about to flower by Ensay Burn cattle-grid and Common Mouse-ear was flowering at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
I went looking to see if Common Cow-wheat was flowering yet, it isn’t but close by I found a new tree with Hazel Gloves, only about 150m from our house and I though this might be the rare lichen Arthothelium macounii. but it turns out to probably be Pyrenula
laevigata (Andy Acton in litt.), so I will have to keep looking. 
Common Mouse-ear was flowering at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse and Marsh Thistle was flowering by Ensay Burn cattle-grid.
On the 22nd both Corncrakes were in their respective territories despite one of them being chased by a Springer Spaniel yesterday! There were 3 Linnets in the garden at East cottage, Haunn and one must have been newly fledged. There was also a male Willow Warbler in bright yellow plumage performing a courtship display beside East cottage, Haunn with wings spread out and fluttering showing the canary yellow feathers at the leading edge of the wing base of the under wing. A male Lesser Redpoll was performing a similar courtship ritual with wings spread out and vibrating whilst squawking vigorously. There was a nest of Wheatear chicks at Toechtamhor cottage and a Meadow Pipit nest by West cottage, Haunn. A House Martin flew over Toechtamhor cottage and there were at least 2 Twite there. There were 2 Common Ternsfishing close for at least half an hour Treshnish boathouse. The nearest islets that I presume holds breeding terns at Croig and I think at Ulva ferry and there are definite colonies on the Treshnish Isles. There were also 4 Dunlins flying over the boathouse and it looked like they had flown from there. There was at least 1 Great Northern Diver off Treshnish boathouse (the last of the season) and 3 Manx Shearwaters off from Ensay Burn mouth, sometimes landing on the water. Carolyne found a nearly fledged Hooded Crow chick next to its dead sibling in Treshnish wood.
a Speckled Wood butterfly was near Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. No Green Hairstreak has been seen since the 16th which was most probably the last of the year (I checked my records and my latest date for this species is 14th May in both 2007 and 2008). A Northern Eggar moth caterpillar was by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
Heath Bedstraw and White Clover were flowering by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
On the 21st the 2nd nearest pair of Golden Eagles were back at their 2007/2008 site.
Lesser Redpoll were flying over Treshnish Old Schoolhouse and Treshnish House and 2 House Martins flew over Treshnish House. Dianne and Phil Marsh, guests at Duill cottage have been watching a Wheatear entering a nest hole in the garden for the last week.
Mike Scott-Ham saw a Harbour Porpoise off Haunn and the highlight of the day must have been when Simon and Lindsay Crisp guests at Middle cottage, Haunn had good views of what was probably a Minke Whale at Treshnish Point.
A Mountain Hare was back in our garden!
On the 20th both Corncrakes were calling after midnight although the one at Treshnish had moved back to the area of the upper ditch in the boathouse field. The Treshnish bird was also heard during the day. The Grasshopper Warbler is still reeling in the fenced off area beside the upper gate into that field. So now officially we have breeding Corncrakes (after 20 May). There were 2 Greylag Geese at Ensay Burn mouth.
I wrote earlier that I would not mention Green-veined White butterflies again until the end of the season as they are common but today one was flying around our house on an ‘in a cloud’ type of day. I had always thought that butterflies needed sunlight to fly!
On the 19th in the evening, both male Corncrakes were calling although the one at Treshnish had moved (from NM349486) a little to the east so it was just below Duill cottage (NM350487). At least 1 Grasshopper Warbler was singing at the same spot as the Corncrake below Duill (NM350487) although none were heard at Haunn. A male Reed Bunting and, as usual, Snipe were drumming and calling below Haunn cottages, 2 Greylag Geese were at Ensay Burn mouth and at least 2 Lesser Redpoll were at Treshnish boathouse.
A Mountain Hare was at Treshnish boathouse and another below Treshnish House.
At night I noticed the second of the Puss Moth pupae had just emerged.The cocoon is on the right which it had glued to the bark on which it is sitting. The exit hole which it made is visible. This photo below shows that it must very newly emerged as the wings are not fully expanded yet.I am not sure what the pink stuff is on the cocoon but the first moth had it too. One more to go.
Heath Speedwell was flowering beside Treshnish wood and at Treshnish house, Lesser Trefoil must have been flowering for several days by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse and Greater Stitchwort was flowering below Treshnish House (the latter is a new record for the farm although it is found at Calgary and Kilninian). Pignut was flowering in Black Park, Haunn.
On the 18th there was 1 Common Tern below Treshnish House where the Corncrake could still be heard calling. I found out that 20th May is the start of the period when proof of breeding for Corncrakes is ‘official’ so 2 days to go! There were also 2 Linnets at the boathouse, the male’s feathers having now worn through to show the brilliant red breast and forehead. At least 3 pairs of Rock Pipits and a pair of Pied Wagtails were holding territories between Treshnish boathouse and Ensay Burn mouth and 1 Whimbrel was at Ensay Burn mouth. There was 1 Cormorant off Treshnish boathouse and 1 at Ensay Burn mouth.
Mike Scott-Ham a guest at East cottage, Haunn saw our first House Martin at Haunn and also 2 Twite there.
Angus Laing guest at the Studio saw an adult Glaucous Gull at Glengorm.
This spring (March-May) we have been finding several feathers dotted around the farm and also at Croig (our neighbour) and today I finally figured out what they are. They are Woodcock feathers and this is the give-away, tail feathers.I photographed it wrong way up because the white tip is brightest. Carolyne also took a photo but it was only of the body feathers and hard to be sure but I think it is also a Woodcock
There were 3 Garden Tiger moth caterpillars in Treshnish Old Schoolhouse garden. It is easy to see that a bird might be put off by this.Caterpillars which we see in the open in daytime must have good defence strategies like this. At least 5 Speckled Wood butterflies were seen in Treshnish wood. The first dragonflies were seen today with 1 Large Red Damselflyat Treshnish boathouse, 1 Blue-tailed Damselfly in Treshnish wood and 1 Four-spotted Chaser by shore below Treshnish House.
Pignut was about to open its flower at Treshnish boathouse, Roseroot was about to flower at Ensay Burn mouth. This tiny plant found along the coast below Treshnish House is Heath Pearlwort and although it has been recorded here by other botanists surveying for the new Mull Flora and is not uncommon, it is a new plant for me. which was flowering at the coast below Treshnish House. English Stonecrop was about to flower below Treshnish House. A very robust Early-purple Orchidwas found at Ensay Burn mouth. usually they are not flat-topped like this and the flowers are more spread out to give an open effect so it may be a hybrid.
On the 17th the highlight was an Osprey at Treshnish Point at about 6pm. It circled there and then headed towards Treshnish boathouse. The Corncrake at Haunn was still calling at about 5pm.and I checked the Treshnish one at 2.30 and it was calling there too. There were 3 Ringed Plovers at Dùn Haunn (a pair were displaying), and a male Eider at Port Haunn. A Kestrel was seen taking food to the nest at Lòn Reudle and there was a Cormorant there too. A Curlew flew from near Treshnish lochan to the coast and 1 has been seen on a couple of occasions this week. It may well be breeding there.
There were 3 pairs of Fulmars on the ledges on south side of Treshnish Point. At least one Meadow Pipit was flushed off a nest on Cruachan Treshnish and there was a Golden Eagle there too. At night there was a pair of Greylag Geese on the wee pond behind Duill cottage (this is probably what I flushed there the previous night although at the time I thought they were probably Mallard). I also heard what may have been Tawny Owl fledglings calling in Treshnish wood.
Mike Scott-Ham a guest at East cottage, Haunn saw Manx Shearwater and Arctic Skua from near Haunn and our first flowering Heath Spotted-orchid here. On a trip around the head of Loch na Keal and surrounds he also recorded 3 Golden Eagles, 10+ White-tailed Eagles, 2 Wood Warblers, 2 Redstarts, 3 Tree Pipits and Whinchat.
Red Deer [stags?] were bellowing at Beinne Reudle and a Mountain Hare was beneath the wind turbine.
There was 1 Speckled Wood butterfly along south edge of Treshnish wood and my first Small Heath butterfly at Port Haunn. Small Heath is common and will not be mentioned until later in the season.
The best moth in trap last night was Nut-tree Tussock. Not rare but i didn’t catch one last year.
A single Narrow-leaved Helleborine was out near Treshnish Old Schoolhouse along the farm-track. It is going to have a flower which is good news. When it is fully out I will post a photograph here. There are to our knowledge only 2 plants at Treshnish only 50m a part but so far I have never seen both flowering in the same year so the chances of them setting seed are remote unless there are some more undiscovered ones in the wood. Calgary Art in Nature Walk is THE place to see this species!
Butterwort and Blinks were flowering at Dùn Haunn.
On the 16th there was even more good news regarding Corncrakes because at 11pm the one at Toechtamhor cottage was calling at the same spot as the last 4 nights whilst 20 minutes later another was heard below the cow-barn at Treshnish. Whilst at Haunn at about 11pm I heard what was presumably a wader type bird flying over with a more mellow krek [half second interval] krek call. Reed Bunting and Snipe were also calling there, whilst Snipe was drumming in Black park field, Haunn.
I went much later at 2.00am to listen to the Treshnish Corncrake and found it in the boathouse field on the upper part of the drainage ditch there. There was a loud call also heard at night near the boathouse woodland strip which was roughly as rasping ‘cirik’ call. It may have been a Heron but it sounded like it was coming from the trees. At night I heard what was probably a Buzzard chick from the nest in Treshnish wood.
No Grasshopper Warblers were heard at Haunn this evening although guests at East cottage, Haunn heard it this morning.
Mike Scott-Ham a guest at East cottage, Haunn on the Treshnish headland circular walk from Haunn to Burg and back along the road: 8 Sedge Warblers (at Haunn), pr Twite, Golden Eagle, pr White-tailed Eagle, 7 Common Sandpiper, 5 Great Northern Diver, 7 Whitethroat, pr Ringed Plover (Dùn Haunn), 5 Black Guillemot, 2 Arctic Terns, pr Stonechat, Grey Seal, 6+ Small Heath butterflies (first of year for here) and 1 Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary butterfly (first of year for here).
I had a very pleasant surprise when I happened to look at some of my moth pupae from the last 2 years and saw to my amazement that one of the Puss Moths from two years ago had emerged. Hopefully it hasn’t been sitting their too long! It seems fine. After taking this photograph it crawled onto some grass and if the weather is warm it should fly off tonight.The bark on the right is what it used to glue its cocoon to. The cocoon is in between the two pieces of bark. This caterpillar pupated on 3rd of July 2008.I thought they must have died so I am hoping the other two emerge! I reared these caterpillars from six eggs laid inside my trap on May 22nd. I gave some to a neighbour so maybe those too have emerged.
There was 1 Green Hair-streak by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
I went to Croig to check out an unusual orchid that our neighbour had seen there. It turned out to be only and Early-purple Orchid in flower with many grazed ones nearby. But at the same spot there were patches of Mountain Everlasting flowering and and plenty of Dove’s-foot Crane’s-bill.I have seen this in much smaller amounts at nearby Langamull and on the south coast of the Ross of Mull.
Yellow Pimpernel and Medium-flowered Winter-cress were flowering by the farm-track beside Treshnish wood (the latter in the cattle-grid-the only place I have found this species).
On the 15th a Corncrake was heard at 3.30pm and just after midnight at the same spot at Toechtamhor cottage and a male Reed Bunting was there in the afternoon. Tawny Owl was heard in Treshnish wood.
National Moth Night was too cold and only three species came to the light, although 5 Glaucous Shears is the highest number I have caught in one night.
Mike Scott-Ham a guest at East cottage, Haunn recorded Arctic Skua, 3-4 Puffins and about 100 Arctic Terns on the Oban-Craignure ferry.
On the 14th Dick and Jane Beales guests of Toechtamhor cottage saw a Corncrake at 8.00am on the mound right outside their kitchen window! Later I went down to listen and it started calling regularly at about 11pm after a brief call at about 10.30pm. There were at least 2 Spotted Flycatcher in Treshnish wood. In the early afternoon a Tawny Owl was heard calling (the wooo past of the Twit-a wooo) in Treshnish wood. There were 2 Whimbrels at Ensay Burn mouth where there was also at least 1 newly fledged Rock Pipit, a pair of Chaffinches mating and a possible ‘White Wagtail.’
A male Reed Bunting was singing near the shore below Treshnish House to east of the boathouse. This must be the bird I saw about a week ago with a black head. It is a new site for this species which is good news! The other site is in the reeds below Haunn cottages and 1 Reed Bunting was also heard there today. A Grasshopper was also heard below Haunn cottages. At least 30 Starlings flew towards the roost cave at Treshnish Point.
There was a Mountain Hare at Ensay Burn mouth  and possibly the same at Treshnish boathouse.
There was a Peacock butterfly at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
Common Sorrel and Germander Speedwell were flowering at Treshnish House
I have just found out that there is a very rare lichen here at Treshnish near the Hazel Gloves fungus site beside Ensay Burn. The lichen, Arthothelium macounii is a BAP (Biodiversity Action Plan) species. It was only discovered in 1976 ‘this species is now known from seven sites in western Scotland. All sites are by or close to the coast and, although not known elsewhere in Europe, it has recently been discovered in the laurisilva on Madeira, and on Los Tilos in the Canary Islands’ More details here.
On the 13th a Corncrake was heard by guest of East cottage, Haunn at Toechtamhor cottage at about 8.30pm! I was there at about 10pm and did not hear it. Heard my first Spotted Flycatcher in Treshnish wood (it appears to be the first for Mull). A male Hen Harrier flew across Ensay Burn mouth, 2 Greylag Geese flew over Treshnish wood towards the coast and there was Great Northern Diver off Treshnish boathouse. A possible Mistle Thrush was heard at the corner of Skoma field, near the boathouse.
Dick and Jane Beales staying at Toechtamhor cottage, Haunn saw 2 Fulmars on the cliffs near Treshnish Point, 5 noisy Ravens (must include newly fledged) at Treshnish Point and a Stonechat in the reeds below Haunn cottages, see photo on the right, which I think is a female (not a juvenile?).
There were 2 Mountain Hares were near Treshnish boathouse and later 2 (perhaps the same) were in Black Park field.
A Drinker moth caterpillar was in Black Park field, Haunn.
On the 12th here is proof of breeding of Dipper at the Ensay Burn bridge below Reudle Schoolhouse. This is one of the recently fledged young.
I knew they bred here because they were present throughout year of 2008 (they were absent in 2009). Probable breeding and definite breeding will be shown differently on the new British atlas, so I was glad to get confirmation.
I took poor quality photos of a ‘White Wagtail’ at Ensay Burn just up from the cattle-grid. (Ensay side). There were 2 Lesser Redpoll by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. There are many newly fledged Willow Warblers around Ensay Burn. A pair of Whitethroats were near Ensay Burn cattle-grid. From now on I presume they will be common and will not mention them again except for breeding evidence and later on in the season.
There have been no Siskin sightings this breeding season at Treshnish
There was 1 Green Hairstreak and 1 Peacock butterfly by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. At Ensay Burn cattle-grid I saw a large bee like insect in flight. It had along abdomen. Narrow-bordered Hawkmoth springs to mind but it may be to early for this species in Scotland.
I am pretty sure I have found a new plant species for me at Treshnish. I think this is New Zealand Willowherb Epilobium brunnescens.Previously I had thought that all plants like this were Bog Pimpernel Anagallis tenella. I will find out when it flowers if I am right but the leaves look too rounded for Bog Pimpernel. Our county recorder pointed out New Zealand Willowherb to me, on a gravel pile beside the road at Mishnish lochs last year.
On the 11th a White-tailed Eagle was seen over Loch Frisa fish-farm. There was Great Northern Diver in Calgary bay near the beach and a Shelduck at Lainne Sgeir, Calgary. The Blackbird nest by the farm-track beside Treshnish wood has been, at least part, predated. The nest was empty and a dead partly eaten large chick was on the ground beside the nest. I suspect it was the feral black cat which has been hunting the edge of the wood for the last few days. Perhaps the other chicks fledged. I saw everything was fine on the 9th but cannot remember if I checked yesterday.
There were 2 Greylag Geese below Toechtamhor cottage and Grasshopper Warbler reeling below Haunn cottages at dusk. A Whimbrel was at Treshnish boathouse which later joined another at Treshnish House before flying alone back to the boathouse. There was a Whitethroat below Treshnish cow-barn where there was also what looked like a fledged Meadow Pipit. A Buzzard chick was calling from the nest in Treshnish wood (also heard yesterday) and 2 Lesser Redpoll were around Treshnish wood and there were 2 Linnets below Treshnish House. Red Grouse was heard at Reudle Schoolhouse.
Dick and Jane Beales staying at Toechtamhor cottage, Haunn saw a pair of Common Gulls mating and a pair of Reed Buntings at Haunn and a pair of Eiders at Port Haunn. A Common Gull nest with eggs was found at Treshnish lochan (SC).
At Mishnish Lochs I stooped to see if there were any dragonflies or damselflies, as this is an extremely good spot for them. I didn’t see any but found a flowering Lesser Twayblade.Last year I looked for this orchid at a known grid reference here but failed to find it. Later on I found one in open moorland on Speinne Mòr. I was astonished to see how tiny it was.A little later I was shown how to find it by our county recorder. Just find a large heather bush on moss, part it in the middle and peer in. Chances are you will find some after a few attempts. Today I found 14 on my first attempt. One day I will get a good photograph. These today are my best so far but it is difficult to see the viewfinder when you need to turn the camera on its side and bend down to ground level in wet bog. Never mind trying to focus on something so small!!
There were at least 6 Common Heath moths seen at Mishnish lochs within a small area.
On the 10th there was 1 Lesser Redpoll at Treshnish graveyard. A Rock Pipit had food for young at Ensay Burn mouth and a Great Tit was seen feeding a recently fledged young at Treshnish boathouse. There were 2 Greylag Geese near Dùn Haunn and a adult Stonechats with at least 2 very newly fledged young at Treshnish Point and 1 Whinchat at Black Park field, to east of Haunn. 70 Starlings came to the roost cave at Treshnish Point at sunset, which begs the question, where do they nest? Perhaps they nest in the cave itself. Several Shags were on nesting ledges by the roost cave and one was sitting on an egg. Another may have been sitting on a chick as there appeared to be some movement underneath it.
Dick and Jane Beales staying at Toechtamhor cottage, Haunn heard what was probably a Grasshopper Warbler below Toechtamhor cottages.
There was a Mountain Hare at Treshnish boathouse and later 1 at Skoma field and possibly the same in Haunn field.
There was a Drinker moth caterpillar in Haunn field and 2 at Treshnish Point. 
Oak Fern was out in Treshnish wood. This shows Oak Fern (as broad as long) next to Beech Fern (backward pointing lower leaflets).Other ferns were also emerging including Hard Shield-fern in Treshnish wood. The new fronds are very soft and could be confused with Soft Shield-fern which has also been recorded by others here but I have not found it. Some of the old fronds survive the winter and they have the typical hard feel.
A new spot was found in Treshnish wood for Common Twayblade,although only about 30 metres from two other known sites. The literature states that some years it is dormant. One of the other nearby sites had none last year and none seen in 2007 and 2008. Like most orchids it has an amazing life-history. According to Allan & Woods in Wild Orchids of Scotland it takes 15 years between germination and flowering and Harrap & Harrap in Orchids of Britain and Ireland state that plants can live up to 40 years and have been found with 24 old flower spikes on a single rhizome.
Woodruff was flowering in Treshnish wood, Water Avens was flowering near Ensay Burn mouth and Sea Milkwort and Sea Arrowgrass were about to flower below Treshnish House. Sea Campion and Silverweed were flowering near Treshnish boathouse and Sea Sandwort was about to flower there. Tormentil was flowering at Haunn, and Sheep Sorrel was flowering in Black Park.
On the 9th there were at least 5 Green Hairstreak butterflies along the track beside Treshnish wood and 1 probable Peacock at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
Dick and Jane Beales staying at Toechtamhor cottage, Haunn saw a pair of Reed Buntings and 1 Twite there and 1 Ringed Plover near Port Haunn.
On the 8th there was 1 Twite at Haunn cottages and a pair of Reed Buntings at Toechtamhor cottage and later a male below Haunn cottage. A male Hen Harrier was seen briefly hunting in Skoma field, Haunn. There were 2 Sedge Warblers below Haunn cottages and at least 1 below Toechtamhor cottage. I will make no more comments on Sedge Warblers until later on in the season. There was 1 Grasshopper Warbler heard below Haunn cottages and 1 below Toechtamhor cottage. At night a Tawny Owl and a drumming Snipe were heard at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
I haven’t heard a Whitethroat since the first of the year on the 29th of April. I have heard snatches of song that I thought could be it but never for long enough to be sure. Normally they are common after the first sighting. Cuckoo has been heard daily since the 25th giving the impression that they are everywhere. There have been no Fulmars flying around the cliffs at Treshnish Point on brief visits during the last 3 days (I did not stay long and could not see the cliff ledges).
Dick and Jane Beales staying at Toechtamhor cottage, Haunn saw and photographed a pair of Reed Buntings there. See photos on the right.
There was 1 Green Hairstreak butterfly by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse and at night two Puss Moths came to the light (one is still on our window-frame on the 12th).
Smooth Lady’s-mantle and Greater Plantain were flowering beside Treshnish wood. No sign yet of Narrow-leaved Helleborine which should be out by now.
On the 7th there was a beautiful male Yellowhammer again around Treshnish House, on the bird-feeder (Carolyne Charrington) and nearer to the wood. A Buzzard was seen carrying food back to the nest in Treshnish wood. 5 Wood Pigeons were seen flying over Treshnish wood towards Calgary. There was 1 Sedge Warbler at Treshnish cow-barn with another at Treshnish boathouse boathouse along with 2 newly fledged Song Thrushes and a Goldcrest carrying food. at least 35 Starlings flew towards the Treshnish point cave roost at dusk and 2 Great Northern Divers were on the north side of Calgary bay mouth with another close in at Treshnish boathouse. Anne & George Burns, guests at West cottage, Haunn saw Sedge Warbler, male Reed Bunting, male Whinchat, female Stonechat (with a big black caterpillar), Grasshopper Warbler (heard only) in and around the reeds below the Haunn cottages and Cuckoo in many places. They also reported seeing more than 10 Black Guillemots off Treshnish on most days during their stay from 30th April to 7th May. The Shields, guests at East cottage, Haunn reported an Oystercatcher nest at the same site as last year at Dùn Haunn at the beginning of their stay but it appeared to have been abandoned by the end of the week.
There was 1 Green Hairstreak butterfly by Ensay Burn cattle-grid.
Bird’s-foot Trefoil, Common Milkwort and Welsh Poppy were flowering near Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. More Hazel Gloves fungus was found near Treshnish boathouse.
On the 6th there were a pair of Lesser Redpoll at Treshnish graveyard, a recently fledged Song Thrush at Treshnish boathouse, a pair of Mallards flying from the coast to Treshnish lochan and another pair flying from Ensay Burn mouth to Treshnish boathouse. Enough on Mallards we have proof of breeding. There were at least 4 Sand Martins over Treshnish woodland. I will not mention them until later on in the season as they are almost daily over the wood. They are almost certainly from the Calgary beach colony. There was 1 Great Northern Diver on the north side of Calgary bay mouth. A wader which was probably a Ringed Plover was at Port Haunn in last day or so (SC).
Each day I am out I notice the absence of Stonechats and mean to write about it but is slips my mind. Last night looking through the Argyll Bird Report I came across this entry ”. Widespread resident, but some leave breeding areas during winter. Numbers can decline dramatically after severe winters.’ I don’t think I have seen more than 1 or 2 Stonechats this year at Treshnish and none for over a month!
There was a Green-veined White at Treshnish House. I will not mention this butterfly until later on in the season as it will soon be common on sunny days. There was 1 Green Hairstreak by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. I will continue to record this species as it is not a butterfly most people have seen and the flight season is only about a month.
Eyebright was flowering at Treshnish House, Ramsons (Wild Garlic) and Barren Strawberry were flowering in Treshnish wood and Dog’s Mercury has been flowering there for some time.
On the 5th there was a Great Northern Diver in Calgary bay mouth, 4 Twite at Treshnish cow-barn with another 20 at Haunn, 2-4 Linnets at Haunn and 2 Sedge Warblers and 1 singing Grasshopper Warbler below Haunn cottages and another Sedge Warbler and calling Snipe below Toechtamhor cottage
A Peacock butterflywas found resting by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. A Puss Mothwas found inside the house on my moth trap, presumably it has been there since I last trapped on the night of the 30th April. I have only caught this species twice in the moth trap although one time involved 3 moths last year and then one laid eggs which I reared until they pupated but unfortunately I must have done something wrong as they failed to emerge. On another part, just outside the garden at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse there were at least 3 more Garden Tiger moths bringing the total seen to 6 and this is with causal searching across the fence.
On the 4th there was a singing Grasshopper Warbler in the reed-bed below Toechtamhor cottage (NM3348) and another singing in the reeds below Haunn cottages (NM3347). This is the first time I have heard this species at Treshnish. Grasshopper Warbler was recorded as ‘probably breeding’ in our 10x10km square in The Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland (1976). That is the last record I can trace for this area.
There were 4 Twite in the east corner of Haunn field, 1 Sedge Warbler and 1 Reed Bunting were heard singing in the reeds below Haunn cottages, about 10 Sand Martins over Treshnish wood and a male Blackcap in Treshnish wood near the graveyard and 1 singing further up towards Treshnish House. A Buzzard was sky-diving over Treshnish wood. Here is the reason I have been going on about Mallards.I think this constitutes proof of breeding! This chick was wandering across the farm-road by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. I went back a minute later to take it up to the lochan or perhaps take it into care but it had disappeared. It looked like it knew where it was going but there were no other chicks or mum nearby so I think it was in trouble. Anyway I went up to the lochan and a drake Mallard flew off but there was no sign of mum or siblings. The Blackbird nest still has healthy chicks.
Anne & George Burns, guests at West cottage, Haunn saw 4 Whimbrels and 2 Ringed Plover at Calgary beach on the 3rd or 4th of May and on the 4th 1 Great Northern Diver and 3 Common Sandpipers at Ensay Burn mouth.
Closer inspection around Treshnish old schoolhouse garden revealed 3 Garden Tiger moth caterpillars.I have only caught 6 adults in three years of moth-trapping so to have 3 caterpillars in our garden is great. Here is the shed skin of a Garden Tigerand I think this an early instar.The long un-grazed grass appears to be a haven for Garden Tigers and Drinkers. Today there were also many Drinkers, so many that you had to watch where you stepped and some of which were shedding their skins as they changed into the next instar (stage). Here is a Drinker with some shed skin still attached.There was also a Drinker in Black Park field to east of Haunn field and another in Haunn field.
I found a few more Hazel Gloves fungus but all were close by to other trees. Bush Vetch was flowering on the south side of Treshnish wood. I find this flower similar in colour to Bitter-vetch but is easy to tell apart because Bush Vetch has a leaf tendril which clings to nearby plants and more leaflets (5-8 compared with 2-4 on Bitter-vetch). Beech Fern had emerged and Bugle was at Treshnish wood and Cuckooflower was flowering below Haunn cottages.
On the 3rd Anne & George Burns, guests at West cottage, Haunn, had a great eagle experience near the Whisky cave’. They saw a Golden Eagle attacking a Gannet no far offshore. The Gannet landed on the water but the eagle kept attacking it for several minutes until it eventually gave up. There were 2 Mistle Thrushes by Ensay Burn cattle-grid. I have not seen this species here in the breeding season (although elsewhere in our 10x10km square someone else has reported it). A pair constitutes probable breeding in the new atlas although I doubt it breeds here. There was also a pair of Blackcaps in Treshnish wood near the graveyard (our earliest record and the first time I have seen a pair at Treshnish) where there was also a Buzzard nest in the same place as 3 years ago. There was also a pair of Wood Pigeons and 2 Sand Martins at Treshnish wood. There were 2 Great Northern Divers and 1 Red-throated Diver in Calgary bay.
At Ensay Burn mouth there were 3 drake Mallards, 1 Grey Wagtail and a ‘White Wagtail’ Motacilla alba alba. This is a different race (sub-species) from our resident Pied Wagtails (subspecies yarrellii) in which the males are strikingly different with black and white upperparts, compared to the pale grey and white adult of the ‘White Wagtail’. The females are more similar but alba has a pure uniformly grey mantle. It is a new sub-species for our square. ‘White Wagtail’ is a passage migrant to Britain and does not breed here. In Denmark the resident sub-species is the ‘White Wagtail’ and if I remember right yarrellii is either a vagrant or unrecorded there.
I also saw 2 possible Stock Doves flying around Treshnish wood near the Ensay Burn cattle-grid and a few minutes later up Ensay Burn. They had a pure grey rump and a black trailing edge to the underwing. I should have looked for the extent of the wing bars and the grey underwing but all I can say is that I did not note in my mind the wing bars and the white underwing and I probably would have noted them if they were there. Apparently some feral birds also have a grey rump and underwing but could there have been 2 the same? The only post 1976 record for Mull was in March 1976 (Birds of Argyll).
Tonight I will listen to the calls of Stock Dove because I have been hearing some bird sounds in Treshnish wood that I do not recognise.
There was a Peacock butterfly near Treshnish graveyard and a Green-veined White butterfly near Ensay Burn cattle-grid, I will not mention this latter species until late in the season as it is common.
On the 2nd there was a male Yellowhammer on Treshnish House bird-feeder (Carolyne Charrington), this is only the second record we have for this species, the other being at Haunn on 27th April 2006 (interestingly these 2 records are only 5 calendar days apart). It is not uncommon at Kilninian where it breeds. A Mallard (male?) flew from Treshnish lochan north to the coast and there were over 100 Kittiwakes off Caliach Point. Tawny Owl was heard at night in Treshnish wood. Anne & George Burns, guests at West cottage, Haunn saw a Great Skua at Treshnish Point.
There were at least 3 Green Hair-streak, 2-3 Green-veined White and a possible Speckled Wood, all butterflies and a resting adult Ruby Tiger moth between Treshnish Old Schoolhouse and Ensay Burn cattle-grid. This is my earliest date for an adult Ruby Tiger and only my second day-flying record (the other being in September). There were also 2 Garden Tigermoth caterpillar and a large Drinker moth caterpillar by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. SC has also been seeing large numbers of Drinkers by Treshnish House with about 20 in a about a 20 sqm. area.
On the 1st there were 22 Golden Plovers and Sedge Warbler (first of the year) at Haunn, in the field below Toechtamhor and Whinchat (first of the year) in Black Park, the field just to the east of Haunn field. There were 3 Twite and 2 Linnets at Haunn and 2 Linnets between Treshnish and Haunn cottages. At Treshnish House feeder no Hawfinch so far today but there was a male Bullfinch this morning. This is great news because now Bullfinch will be on the new Atlas for our square for the winter and summer. I had given up on it being around for the breeding period as we have not seen one since the snows. Perhaps this is a migrant because I would expect our resident birds to be breeding by now. Guests at Toechtamhor reported seeing Reed Bunting and Twite coming to feed on bird-food outside their cottage this past week. A Great Northern Diver was at Ensay Burn mouth. At dusk a Tawny Owl was heard again in Treshnish wood.
There was a Mountain Hare below Treshnish House.
Bitter-vetch and Water-cress were flowering at Haunn field, Early-purple Orchid was flowering at the mouth of the wee burn to the west of Ensay Burn and Lousewort was flowering near Treshnish boathouse.
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