July 2010

See a video clip of the Haunn Corncrake taken by Lesley Few, by clicking here.

On the 31st the Haunn Corncrake was seen flying into Toechtamor cottage garden. It was my first view of it in flight and it was quiet beautiful. At first I thought I was seeing an exotic escape as the only bird that came to mind was Lesser Whisting Duck from the orient. Only when it slowed down to land did I realize it was a Corncake. There was at least 1 Willow Warbler and 1 Wheatear and a drumming Snipe at Haunn cottages.
On the 30th a Sparrowhawk was seen gliding in what seemed like slow motion in and out of the edge of Treshnish wood. A House Martin is often seen with its head poking out of the nest hole at Treshnish House as well as flying to and from the nest. There was 1 Willow Warbler at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
On the 29th there was a Golden Eagle at Treshnish Point. The House Martins are visiting the nest at Treshnish and were also collecting mud presumably for on going maintenance.There was a superb adult male Lesser Redpoll just below the cow-barn.
There were at least 5 Scotch Argus butterflies at Treshnish Old schoolhouse. Although I had seen others previously I was not 100% sure.
This leaflet gives a brief overview.
This PlantLife field guide is the most relevant to Treshnish as it covers the lichens of Ash, Hazel, Willow, Rowan and Old Oak.
This field guide covers the lichens of Birch, Alder and Oak, . This is a more detailed Trees For Life paper on Atlantic Woodland Lichens. This PlantLife leaflet covers Mosses, Liverworts and Lichens of Atlantic Woodlands.
Treshnish holds four rare and threatened lichens:
Arthothelium macounii (Vulnerable, Nationally Rare, BAP, International Responsibility)
Arthonia excipienda (Near Threatened, Nationally Rare) 
Pseudocyphellaria intricata (Near Threatened, Nationally Scare, International Responsibility)
Pseudocyphellaria norvegica (Nationally Scarce, BAP, International Responsibility).
[BAP = Biodiversity Action Plan species, International Responsibility = British populations of European or global significance.]
On the 28th a male Hen Harrier flew west over Treshnish wood and a Golden Eagle was very low over the Ensay quarry car-park. There was a House Martin at Ballygown where I presume they have a nest.
On the Ross of Mull, there were a pair of Red-throated Divers calling to each other and I also saw 1 or 2 Rooks which are rare in north Mull.
I watched the adult White-tailed Eagles for an hour at the watch-tower at Killiemore, Kilfinichen and another? adult at Gribun which flew off to the west.

I found a new moth for me on the Ross, a Small Copper.

According to the Butterflies of South West Scotland it has not been recorded on the Ross of Mull.
I am sure most visitors to Treshnish and the western coast of Mull are not aware of the unique habitat of the Atlantic Woodland. I only become aware of it since becoming interested in mosses, liverworts and lichen. I will add some links to leaflets on Ancient Atlantic woodland.
Whilst on the Ross of Mull I tried to get a photograph of the only known Pyramidal Orchid on Mull. What I thought was this plant (see 14th June) has now opened and it turns out, after having had it checked by the leading orchid expert of Britain, that it is an even better find. At first I was disappointed that it was just a Fragrant Orchid but the late date had me suspicious. Fragrant Orchid has recently been split into three species, Common Fragrant Orchid Gymnadenia conopsea which is rare in Scotland, Heath Fragrant Orchid Gymnadenia borealis which is the common fragrant orchid of Scotland and Marsh Fragrant Orchid Gymnadenia densiflora. The one I found on a sand dune is Marsh Fragrant Orchid which may be the first for Mull and is certainly rare in Scotland.

Also on the Ross, I found my first Perennial Sow-thistle. It has been recorded by others at Reudle.
This is the flower bud

and this is the leaf.

Sneezewort and Grass-of Parnassus were flowering on the Ross.
On the 27th there were 2 Yellowhammers on the electric wires near the turn off to Reudle village. Conversations with the owners of Reudle revealed that they have had Redstart around there house with a female on 13th August 2006 (Dave Thrussell pers. com.). This is a new species for our 10×10 square although it is not within the new Atlas years.
There was 1 Wheatear at Ensay and 1 Whitethroat and 1 Common Darter at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
On the 26th I found out that a moth caught on the 5th of June 2010 was a ‘new’ moth for Treshnish. This one was particularly fresh and purplish and so unmistakable, the Campion, so called because the caterpillar feeds here on Sea and Red Campion.

This looked so similar to another that I caught on June 1st 2008 that I re-checked it and found out that yes it was also a Campion (Lychnis is more common here and very similar).

On the 24th Leena heard the Corncrake at Haunn during the day, in the meadow below the cottages. The Swallow nest beside Middle cottage, Haunn has been rebuilt and now has eggs.
A fairly still, drizzly night seemed good for moths so I out the trap out. Although there were large numbers of some species (73 True Lover’s Knot, 55 Triple-spotted Clay), there were only 31 macro-moth species in total. The best was a Six-striped Rustic

which I have only trapped 4 times before (1 in 2007, 2 in 2008 and 1 in 2009) all between 21st July – 3 August.
I found out from the vice-county recorder that the leaf I found at Reudle on the 19th was the base leaf of Harebell!
On the 23rd the House Martin nest was still not closed at the front (I presume the side is closed but it is hard to see). At least 1 House Martin is still around so I presume that they have eggs by now.
A Sparrowhawk flew over Treshnish wood with a prey item.
A Wormwood Pug came to a lighted window at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse, I have only caught this species in 2007 (1 on 3 nights).

The Field Gentian flowers at Haunn are now open (Stephen Harwood).
On the 22nd a Golden Eagle was seen diving towards Treshnish wood. I walked across the burn to see if it was perched and sure enough it was in the conifers, hopefully hunting rabbits.
The ungrazed grass at Treshnish House and Treshnish Old Schoolhouse provided good seed for a female Lesser Redpoll and adults feeding newly fledged Siskins which gave close views. A male House Sparrows was feeding newly fledged young which was making begging wing fluttering at Treshnish House. A Spotted Flycatcher was by Ensay Burn cattle-grid.
The front entrance of the House Martin nest is still open and I don’t know if they are waiting until she lays eggs or whether they are going to leave it open. I suspect they will close it as they were away most of the day but when they returned in the evening they looked like they were adding a little to the front hole.
There were 2 Speckled Wood, 1 Common Blue and 2 possible Scotch Argus butterflies by the farm road beside Treshnish wood.
It was a good dragonfly day beside Treshnish wood with my first definite Common Hawker of the year (2+). This is a male

and there was also a teneral (newly emerged) which had much duller colours.
There were also 3+ Golden-ringed Dragonfly and a Common Darter.
On the 21st there was a Golden Eagle over Treshnish wood. No Corncrake was heard below Treshnish at 11pm at night and so both have apparently stopped singing although if they have bred successfully the females are probably sitting on their second brood.
On the 20th there was a female Mallard with 2 ducklings at Treshnish lochan and a male Bullfinch on the Tobermory Lighthouse walk.
There was a Red Deer fawn with its mother at Glac Gugairidh and I saw another within the last week elsewhere on the farm environs.
There was a probable Common Hawker dragonfly on the farm road beside Treshnish wood, a Four-spotted Chaser dragonfly at Reudle Schoolhouse bog and at least 2 Magpie moths at dusk nearby.
I went there to try to photograph Broad-leaved Helleborine. The plants in the wood were not noticeably further on than last week but I did find a plant in the open that I must have missed last week. which had open lower florets.

There was a Wood Avens which was flowering and fruiting at the same time, which helps me learn the fruit identification.

On the 19th there was a Spotted Flycatcher fledgling on the farm-road near the Ensay Burn cattle-grid. There was a Sparrowhawk above the Swallows at Treshnish House.
There were 2 Golden-ringed Dragonfly near summit of Ensay-Burg road (NM3746) and a possible Common Hawker by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
I went to Reudle village, which looked like a good track for Moonwort, a rare fern for Mull. I didn’t find it but I found a leaf which I later found to be the lower leaf of a Harebell.

On the 18th in the morning the House Martin nest is missing the last closure of the nest. Perhaps they have to go slower to wait for the previous layer to dry as the nest get higher and shape gets more complicated.
There were 2 Speckled Wood, 2 probable Scotch Argus (if confirmed the first of the year), 4 Small Heath and 9 Green-veined White near Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. The latter two have been scarce lately and my graphs of their occurrence over 4 years shows they are probably double-brooded.
These are the graphs of the flight period of Green-veined White at Treshnish

and these are for Small Heath.

Speckled Wood looks like it is triple-brooded which fits with the literature.

I found this article about the Large Blue butterfly, one of the most fascinating conservation stories.
Rosebay Willowherb was seen flowering beside Treshnish wood but some has been chewed by a deer so it would probably have flowered earlier.
On the 17th a Golden Eagle flew from Cruachan Treshnish to Beinn Duill and there were Twite feeding on grass seed outside West and Toechtamor cottages, Haunn. The House Martins were on the nest in the morning and although they did no work on it in the day they added about an inch to the nest in the evening.
There was a male Hen Harrier in Haunn field and a Garden Tiger moth behind Toechtamhor cottage, Haunn (Julia & Stephen Harwood).
Only 16 moth species came to the light-trap but it was really too windy. The best was Light Arches. It is a nationally common moth but I only caught 6 over 3 nights in 2007, none in 2008 and 1 in 2009 and all were in a small window between 14th July and 7 of August.

Marsh Cudweed is flowering by Treshnish House. The Field Gentians at Haunn are still in bud but the petal colour is showing so they will be out very soon. They can be enjoyed from the farm-road near Toechtamhor cottage.
On the 16th there was a male Hen Harrier between Treshnish and Haunn cottages (Stephen and Julia Harwood). The Treshnish House Martins have been having a day off from nest building although in mid-afternoon just as I was about to add some extra support for the nest they arrived with mud. I continued adding some support for the nest and they only returned later to roost when it was raining.
Murray Loudon took some photos of the nest building earlier in the week.

You can see more photos of Murray’s House Martins and Swallows from Treshnish here.
There is a Pied Wagtail nest with young near the dog kennels at Treshnish House but I have not had the patience to find the nest. There were at least 4 Swallows roosting in the Treshnish wood nissen-hut at sunset.
On the 15th there were 2 Golden Eagles on Cruachan Treshnish and a Sparrowhawk made a kill of what was probably a Swallow at Middle cottage, Haunn. The Swallow nest which collapsed in the shed beside Middle cottage has been rebuilt but no eggs have been laid yet and the House Martin nest at Treshnish is almost a completed as far as the structure goes. Lesser Redpolls were heard as usual over Treshnish wood.
Apparently the Haunn Corncrake has not been heard since Leena heard it during the day on the 10th, I went to Haunn at 11pm and did not hear anything but the Treshnish Corncrake was still calling. The Treshnish bird has been calling for 2 months and the Haunn bird was calling for almost 2 months. This may mean the Haunn bird has mated successfully and perhaps the Treshnish bird is still calling because he did not find a mate.
Guests at Shian saw 2 owls outside the cottage (presumably Tawny Owl).
On the 14th the Treshnish House Martins was again taking it easy. My theory is that the first frantic day of building is a bonding and mating ritual to communicate to each other that they are making another breeding attempt and this is the spot. After that they presumably have time before she is ready to relay. The literature states that the average nest building time, for a new nest, is 10 days.
On the Ross of Mull I found this which I initially thought was a Cinnabar Moth caterpillar. It was wishful thinking as there is so much Ragwort there. It is in fact an early stage (instar) of Fox Moth..

Talk about synchronicity. This is another early instar found on the Ross last year on exactly the same day, 14th of July.

In the evening I went to the Ross of Mull to look for the only known Pyramidal Orchid on Mull. Last year I failed to find it as it was eaten [by a slug?] within a week of being found. Today I though I found it but it is a little late this year and was not yet flowering. [Later found to be Marsh Fragrant-orchid].

Grass-of- Parnassus and Common Knapweed were flowering at Ardalanish beach
On the 13th the Treshnish House Martins must have worked the nest very little if at all but at least one of them was roosting in the nest at dusk. I read up about them and this is the usual behaviour and the young can roost in the nest long after fledging. The nissen-hut Swallows were also roosting in the hut at dusk.
During the day I very naively was admiring the number of swallows above the vegetable garden thinking how great it was that there were so many when I saw a Sparrowhawk apparently trapped between the chicken wire and the rose hedge. It was one of those ‘wish I had a camera’ moments, which was gone in a second as it became clear that the Sparrowhawk was not trapped but just trying to fly through the mesh. It immediately figured out that it just had to go backwards and so then it was free. So that was what all the Swallow activity was about, not “feed me mum and dad” but “‘ware hawk”.
There was a male Hen Harrier near the road at the Mishnish end of Loch Frisa.
On a walk the Tobermory Lighthouse there were newly fledged parties of Bullfinch (6+ at NM5156), Song Thrush (NM5155) and Blackbird (NM5155) and distant views of a White-tailed Eagle and a Peregrine and later over Tobermory main street a Peregrine flying with a kill! There was also a Speckled Wood (NM5155) and 2 Graylings (NM5156) there.
The Tobermory Lighthouse walk is an excellent place for a rare orchid on Mull, the Broad-leaved Helleborine. The flowers were not yet open but by the end of the month (perhaps within a week) they should be quite a site. This orchid is extremely rare on Mull with only one other site that I know of although it is not rare in England. This site is mentioned in Orchids of Britain and Ireland, A field and site Guide by Anne and Simon Harrap but I have been asked by the county recorder to mention to please stay on the path as it is very easy to trample on seedlings and other rare plants. I didn’t have much time for looking at other plants as I was monitoring the orchids but I did find Skullcap flowering on the shore near Tobermory.
On the 12th in the morning the Treshnish House Martins were busy rebuilding their nest in the same spot . If they get far enough on I may try to reinforce it. By 7pm the nest was one third built.
A male Bullfinch was by the French ‘No Hunting’ sign beside Treshnish wood. This is only my second summer record in 5 years. The newly fledged Spotted Flycatchers were still being fed by their parents on the wire fence beside Ensay Burn cattle-grid. At 11pm the Treshnish Corncrake was calling.

On Carn Mòr Snipe were heard calling, which have been quiet recently and a Golden Plover was heard.
There was a Speckled Wood butterfly by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
There was a Large Heath on Carn Mòr at 9pm

and another earlier at Cruchan Odhor

and at 10pm a Dark Green Fritillary allowed a close up to the west of Carn Mòr.

A view from a lochan on Carn Mòr showing Caliach with Coll and South Uist behind.

A view of Beinn an Lochain does not capture the magic of this place.

Cross-leaved Heath was flowering on Cruchan Odhar and Ling was flowering on Carn Mòr.
On the 11th the Treshnish House Martin nest was found collapsed. There were no signs of eggs or young so presumably they have been eaten by a predator. At 8pm the pair were attempting to rebuild the nest. I always had concerns about the nest as it had two cracks from where they had apparently changed the type of mud they were using so the nest was built in 3 layers with cracks between the layers.
At night (1am) the Treshnish Corncrake was calling from below Duill cottage. The wind was not strong but still it could not be heard without walking a hundred north of the cottages. Obviously when it can he heard from the farm-road between the cottages and Treshnish wood it must be calling from a little further to the east.
A pair of Tawny Owls was heard duetting by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. All 6 of the family of Swallows were roosting in the nissen-hut by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse and a night-time visit to the House Martin nest looked as though the small lip of remaining mud had either been removed or had fallen off.
On the 10th the Treshnish Corncrake was calling at 8.30pm and Leena heard the Haunn male calling during the day. The Reed Bunting was calling again in Black Park field, just before the gate leading into Haunn field. The Swallow nest in the shed beside Middle cottage was on the floor with at least 4 dead chicks. This could be predation by the black feral cat. On a more pleasing note, the Treshnish House Martin chicks may have hatched today; the adults were noticeably excited. The 4 nissen-hut Swallow fledglings were all flying around outside with their parents.
The Loudons, guests at Duill cottage pointed out to me a dead immature Adder, which had been ran over on the farm-road to Haunn. Fenella from Shian cottage saw an Otter at Langamull.
The Field Gentians are a few days away from flowering at Toechtamhor cottage, Haunn.
On the 9th the Treshnish Corncrake was calling at 11pm. A Reed Bunting was calling in Black Park field, just before the gate leading into Haunn field. There was at least 1 Twite at Treshnish House and 2 Wood Pigeons at Ensay farmhouse which we haven’t seen recently. The 4 Swallow fledglings were back in the nissen-hut in the morning, so they are using it for protection. There are so many Swallows in the farm buildings proper that was difficult to see if the young were returning there for shelter but obviously they do.
A brief visit to Calgary beach machair was a pleasant surprise. I had visited a fortnight ago and thought I was imagining how less grazed it was. But no, it really is looking good. A couple more years like this and it will equal Ardalanish! I didn’t find any Frog Orchids though and it looks like they may have been lost from this site but with continuing low grazing they should return. The sandy shore was covered in clumps of flowering Sea Rocket. Locals think this could be a result of the mild winter 9storm-wise) but low grazing is sure to have had some effect too.
At night the moth-light attracted only 22 species but it was a bit cold. None were exceptional although Garden Tiger and Drinker are always nice to see.
On the 8th there was a Collared Dove around Treshnish House and family group of Siskins, including fledged young, below Treshnish House.
These Swallow chicks are still in their nest in the vegetable garden.

Two of the Swallow fledglings left the nissen-hut this evening although these two were not quite ready.

The Treshnish Corncrake was calling just before midnight.
There were 4 Sand Martins on Treshnish farm (Geoff Carr et al.)
A Speckled Wood was obliging in Treshnish wood even with the dogs galloping around.

and there were at least 2 Graylings butterflies at Ensay Burn mouth and 3 below Treshnish House.
Phacelia was found flowering in Treshnish vegetable garden. I shall have to ask Carolyne if this is an escape from her flower garden if not it must have come in with some outside material. Northern Dead-nettle has been flowering there for some time.
On the 7th there were recently fledged Spotted Flycatchers beside the Ensay-Treshnish bridge and more on Ensay to the north. Swallow fledglings have left the nest in the nissen-hut beside Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.

There were 4 or 5 Grayling butterflies on the Ensay side of Treshnish wood (NM3548).
Today I identified a leaf I found on the 29th of June. It is a plant which others have reported at Treshnish but which I hadn’t been able to find. No wonder, it was on the edge of a small cliff on the Ensay side of the burn. The shrub is the Guelder-rose.

It had only one flower umbel left today.

The Common Twayblade plants in Treshnish wood are looking great this year.

At another site I managed to re-locate a Broad-leaved Helleborine plant which was flowering in 2007. This year it was not flowering.

Tutsan was flowering in Treshnish wood.
I found a few more Hazel Gloves fungi along Ensay Burn in Treshnish wood but these 2 were perfectly healthy and also on a Hazel I must have passed hundreds of times!

On the 6th a Grasshopper Warbler was heard near Haunn cottages (Christoph Harwood).
On the 5th there were 2 Linnets by Haunn cottages.
On the 4th a Corncrake was seen right outside Toechtamhor cottage and there was a Hen Harrier between Treshnish and Haunn cottages (Harwood family). I also received some photos taken by Steve Fryday whilst staying at Toechtamhor cottage. You can see them in the slide-show on the right.
There was a Speckled Wood butterfly near Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
On the 3rd a Grasshopper Warbler was heard just below Haunn cottages. The Haunn Corncrake was calling occasionally during the afternoon and more often in the evening but the Wards said that last night it had starting calling again loudly, they also said that before it went silent it was calling a lot during the day. This is almost classic post breeding behaviour so maybe they ARE having a second brood.
The Swallow chicks are sticking their heads above the nests on East cottage and the shed beside Middle cottage and Pied Wagtails have a nest with chicks in a hole in the bank beside the container at the cow-barn.
Malcolm Ward a guest at East cottage between 26 June- 3rd July included these records:
male Linnet at back of East
Starling flocks go over Haunn between 9.30-10pm daily
2 pairs of Kestrels between Haunn and Crackaig
Lots of Meadow Brown butterflies from 30th onwards
Speckled Wood butterfly in Calgary wood and Ulva
Red Admiral butterfly near Calgary cemetery
Painted Lady butterfly at Ulva (south shore)
Six-spot Burnet moth on Headland above Port Haunn and at Ulva

present from 26th to 30th but stopped calling around 21.00 of 30th until 19.00 2 July when heard calling outside door of East cottage
He has a recording of night time calling.

On the 2nd I heard from Malcolm Ward, staying at East cottage, that the Haunn Corncrake had been very quiet for the last couple of nights. I am hoping that this is the quiet period after mating and before egg-laying which could mean a second brood. This may not be too optimistic as two Corncrakes were seen here on the 2nd of June. If they mated after the male had been calling for a couple of weeks I calculate that the young would be independent (but still not able to fly) by about the 1st of of July and the female would be ready to mate soon after.
If the female laid eggs immediately after being seen with the male on the 2nd of June, the young could be independent at the earliest, on the 30 June and the female would relay on average 12 days later, which would be on the 11th of July. (Reference: Birds of The Western Paleartcic – DVD updates).
On the 1st guests at the Sheiling, saw a Corncrake at Haunn. Today we received a video clip of the Haunn Corncrake taken by Lesley Few! If you missed seeing it here it is. There was a Collared Dove in Treshnish garden and a male Reed Bunting was singing by the road just before where the Black Park field enters Haunn field. Curlews were still holding territory above the cow-barn. It was nice to hear the Treshnish wood Tawny Owl at sunset.
A Common Gull at Ballgown obviously had a nest near the shore and a Pheasant had 3 fledglings.
Malcolm Ward left these records:
A Great Skua near Port Haunn, very close in attacking a Gannet
Treshnish Corncrake heard in bottom field
At 19.48 2 miles west of Port Haunn a breaching Basking Shark (breached once).

Not wishing to publicise this rag but they have the best photo of this breaching Basking Shark here.
Greater Bird’s-foot Trefoil was flowering along farm-track beside Treshnish wood.
At Ballygown I surveyed part of a tetrad for our plant vice-county recorder. I found Scots Lovage flowering,


which I was surprised to find close to the shore,

Common Centaury,


Wood Avens fruiting,

and Upright Hedge-parsley (non flowering), lots of Skullcap, 1 Gypsywort (not flowering yet) and Wilson’s Filmy-fern.
I also found a new site for Hazel Gloves fungus.

The fungus was healthy but the hazel itself is not regenerating.
You can see that this stroma was growing on two branches which were stuck together but has broken apart probably by the wind.

The branches are stuck together by glue fungus which the Hazel Gloves is associated with.