August 2010

On the 31st there were at least 3 Bullfinches, 1 Lesser Redpoll and 5 Siskins in Treshnish wood and a female Sparrowhawk flying east and low along the farm road beside Treshnish wood. There were 19 Swallows at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
A Merlin flew from Cruachan Treshnish (NM3447) and landed on a hillock to the south.
Carolyne Charrington saw a covey of about 6 Red Grouse near the summit of the Ensay-Burg road.
There were 3 Basking Sharks in Calgary Bay, off from Ensay Burn mouth (Leena Danø).
There was a male Emerald Damselfly on the pond above Treshnish lochan (NM35714805) and another just to south of the top of Cruachan Treshnish (NM34674715). I have been misidentifying this species as Blue-tailed Damselfly. The emerald colour is not at all obvious because of the metallic effect but the wings are often spread when perched which should have been a ‘give-away’. There were Common Hawkers at the three largest ponds I visited, mostly females laying eggs but also pairs copulating (4 at NM346471, 1 at NM349472).
I also found an ‘ear moth’ species on Cruachan Treshnish (NM3547) which is probably a Large Ear (Roy Leverton pers.comm.). There are 4 ear moth species which are very difficult to separate, this is the first I have seen in the open in the daytime although it is very common at the light-trap.

I am also finding more daytime flying Chevron moths than other years although it is possible that I have seen them before but not been able to identify them. There was a Grayling butterfly by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
Some Lesser Bladderworts were flowering on Cruachan Treshnish.

and at a different location Intermediate Bladderwort was in bud.
On the 30th there were at least 10 House Martins perched on the electric wires at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse, many of which were juveniles (light grey v black upperparts; and white tips to the inner wing feathers) so these are not our birds. It is however more exciting that they were visiting our nest and the artificial nest boxes as this species is highly social and they may be attracted to an existing nest-site.
There were at least 8 Bullfinches (included 2 juvenile males and a juvenile female) and 12 Siskins in Treshnish wood and 2 Willow Warblers and 1 Whitethroat by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse (the last of the year for Treshnish of the latter). In the morning a Sparrowhawk flew out over Calgary bay and then back to Ensay and there was also a Golden Eagle above the coast to Calgary and later in the evening another over Treshnish wood.
At least 2 Barn Owls could be seen during the day at the nest box near Dervaig and at night a Tawny Owl was heard from Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
Along the farm road by the wood there were at least 13 Speckled Wood butterflies (a record for here) one of which had worn to reveal an unusual colour,

7 Scotch Argus butterflies, 1 Common Hawker and 1 Common Darter dragonflies and at Treshnish lochan, 2 Common Darters, 1 Common Hawker dragonflies and 4 Common Blue Damselflies.

There was a Knot Grass moth caterpillar beside Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.

This is a strikingly colourful caterpillar for such a grey moth (photo from 19th May),

not to be confused with Light Knot Grass (see photo on 25th August).
At night no uncommon moths but some beautiful ones. This is Pink-barred Sallow,

Flounced Chestnut

and Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing. although the underwing is bright orange, it will not open its wings, except to fly.

There were at least 2 Basking Sharks to north of Treshnish in the Sound of Coll.
On the 29th there were a pair of Golden Eagles over Treshnish wood. Both were calling and sky-diving low over the wood. This is the first time I have been sure they were both calling and both sky-diving. It was almost certainly a pair (one was a male and the other a female) as afterwards they mutual soared and flew off over Treshnish lochan together. Infuriatingly my camera was on the wrong mode and no photos came out.
In the early afternoon the pair were back and this time although there was no calling the female performed a little sky-diving over Treshnish wood. And in the evening there was one soaring above Treshnish wood and along the coast strip to the west of Treshnish wood.
There was one over Treshnish wood several times until sunset when the pair were together and the female was calling and sky-diving.

There was a Merlin flying west over Treshnish wood towards Treshnish House.
We may have been premature with the announcement of our House Martins fledging. I suspect that the ‘extra’ birds seen around the nest were roaming birds from elsewhere. This may be good news as they were showing interest in the nest ‘boxes’.
On the 28th there were flocks of Meadow Pipits and Goldfinches between Treshnish and Haunn.
The Swallow nest in the hut beside Middle cottage, Haunn still has young.
On the 27th there were at least 400 Shags in Calgary bay mouth in the morning (Carolyne Charrington) and also in the afternoon. There was 1 Golden Eagle flying over Treshnish wood which stooped on, but missed catching a rabbit across the burn at Ensay. Guests at Sheiling saw the 2 Golden Eagles together at this time over Treshnish House. Later in the evening 1 Golden Eagle was calling and sky-diving low over Treshnish wood and another eagle could be heard calling from below the wood.
There was a Bullfinch and a Lesser Redpoll near Treshnish Old Schoolhouse and a Spotted Flycatcher (the last of the year for me) and Collared Dove at Treshnish House.
There were 2 possible ‘White Wagtails’ beside Duill cottage but I did not get a good enough view to be certain.
There was a Grayling butterfly at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
On the 26th Carolyne saw 5 Treshnish House Martins around the nest in the morning.Guests in Duill cottage saw about 6 House Martins around the farm buildings a couple of days ago but these were later found out not to be our birds which are still in the nest. Carolyne saw these visiting bird sentering the artificial nest boxes just beside their nest and perhaps they will take a liking to it and breed next year
There were 2 Golden Eagles over Treshnish wood in the evening (1 with prey) and they flew to Cruachan Treshnish. Another eagle seen over Treshnish wood in the afternoon was probably one of this pair.
A Lesser Redpoll in Treshnish wood gave good views and there were 30 Swallows on the electric wires behind Treshnish Old Schoolhouse and at least 5 Sand Martins over the wood (the last of the year at Treshnish).
I saw a Barn Owl squeezing out of the owl box on the Dervaig – Calgary road. It had adult feathers but I couldn’t see much without a telescope.
There were at least 3 Common Hawkers and 1 Common Darter (dragonflies) by Ensay Burn cattle-grid.
On the 25th there was Wheatear at Glac Gugairidh (NM3546) and 1 Manx Shearwater flying north, close in at Lòn Reudle, 2 Twite at Lòn Reudle and There were 2 possible ‘White Wagtails’ beside Treshnish Old Schoolhouse but I did not get a good enough view to be certain.
There was 1 Basking Shark in the mouth of Calgary bay.
At the pond above Glac Gugairidh (NM3546) there were 3 Emerald Damselflies

(including a pair copulating).
Nearby a pair of Common Hawkers were copulating,

and another was laying eggs in the pond above Treshnish lochan, 8 at the pond above Glac Gugairidh (NM3546) and 1 at Reudle Schoolhouse bog (NM3547). There was also 1 Common Darter at Reudle Schoolhouse bog (NM3547), 3-5 Common Darters and 4 Common Blue Damselflies at Treshnish lochan and a Black Darter at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse (my first of the year).
I looked for Hazel Gloves fungus in the wood below Crackaig but failed to find any.
I did find this fungus there, which I need to identify.

Along the edge of Treshnish wood the Scotch Argus were looking a bit faded

although this Speckled Wood was unusually confiding.

This Light Knot Grass moth was found near Reudle Schoolhouse bog (NM3547).

I found a new site for Bog Orchid, near our house. There were 3 flowering plants in an old peat works. I found no new plants last year so today it was a good find.
I think this is Water Forget-me-not in Treshnish lochan.

On the 24th there were 2 Red-throated Divers in Calgary bay, out from the ‘pink pier’ and there were 2 Grey Wagtails flying by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. At Bennan (NM35W) there was a family of Stonechats (including newly fledged).
There were 1 or 2 Common Hawkers and 1 Common Darter dragonflies along the farm-road through Treshnish wood. There were at least 50 Scotch Argus within the deer-fence there and 3 Speckled Wood butterflies beside Treshnish wood.
On the 23rd a Sparrowhawk flew west over Treshnish wood and in the evening there were about 8 Bullfinches and a Spotted Flycatcher in Treshnish wood and a Wood Pigeon flying over Treshnish wood.
There was a Basking Shark was off Ensay Burn mouth.
On the 22nd there were 3 Basking Sharks in Calgary bay.
There was a Common Hawker flying at the same time as a large yellow dragonfly at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. This yellow dragonfly can only have been a Four-spotted Chaser, which is very late for this species, although there is one 1994 record for Mull on 25 August.
On the 21st one of the parents of the Swallow nest on East cottage is a very good defender of its chicks! It flies very close to your head if you are standing outside the cottage.
There was a female Pheasant with at least 3 chicks by the gate from Black Park to Haunn field. I had a good look to make sure they weren’t Corncrakes.
Today I found out from our vice-county recorder that the pea plant I found on the south coast of Mull on the 10th was indeed Sea Pea Lathyrus japonicus. This plant is rare in Scotland and even more so on the west coast with records from only 2 sites: Sandhead, Mull of Galloway in 1910 and Poolewe, Wester Ross before 1929.
At dusk a Tawny Owl was heard at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
At night a Flounced Rustic moth came to the light-trap.

This is my first definite Flounced Rustic although one in 2007 was probably this species.
On the 20th a Willow Warbler was heard near Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
On the 19th there was a Swallow nest with eggs on the tool-shed in Treshnish vegetable garden, both parent House Martins were at the nest at Treshnish House and there were 2 Grey Wagtails at Treshnish House.
The inability of House Martins to get their nests to stick on painted house exteriors must be a problem. I noticed that on the new houses at Kilninian there were several collapsed nests. It wouldn’t be so bad if the birds couldn’t get the mud to stick at all because then they would just move to another house but many of the nests at Kilninian looked as though they were well built before they fell. There was one half built House Martin nest with a feather in it but I didn’t have time to see what was in the nest.
Andy Stoddart and Maja Passchier, guests at the Sheiling, saw a Knot at Treshnish Point. This is a new bird for this 10x10km square although there are 2 records from Calgary and another from Caliach Point They also saw a pair plus juvenile Stonechats ‘about 300 yards south of where the track down from Haunn Cottages reaches the coast’ and 1 Spotted Flycatcher near the dog kennels at Treshnish House and they also saw 2 Otters along the road to Calgary and Peacock and Red Admiral ‘Buddleja bushes in farm garden and inside wood north of entrance track’. More generally during their stay from 14-19 August saw a steady trickle of Manx Shearwaters offshore and up to 3 Golden Eagles on most days, Grey Wagtail ‘daily, max 2 frequent along shoreline below farm and along Ensay Burn’ and also listed Twite, Siskin and Lesser Redpoll, and saw up to 6 Basking Sharks daily.
A moth I found inside our house turns out to be my second record of Northern Rustic at Treshnish.

I think I managed to identify the caterpillar found at Carsaig beach on the 17th. I thought it was Wormwood Pug but I have heard from experts that it is more likely to be Goldenrod Pug.
On the 18th at 10.30am, an adult White-tailed Eagle flew west across Ensay Burn mouth. A visit to the nearest Golden Eagle territory was rewarded with views of the juvenile and adults. There were 2 Wheatears at Glac Gugairidh.
There was a Common Hawker dragonfly behind Treshnish Old Schoolhouse and an Emerald Damselfly in the pond above Treshnish lochan.
Andy Stoddart and Maja Passchier saw 5 Eiders at Treshnish and an Arctic Skua ‘offshore in Sound of Coll’ and 1 Wood Pigeon ‘over farm’, a Dipper at the waterfall by the first stone bridge between Ensay and Burg, a Greenfinch at Treshnish House, an Otter along the road to Calgary and Peacock and Red Admiral ‘Buddleja bushes in farm garden and inside wood north of entrance track’.
Saw my first Bog Orchid of the year today. I looked earlier in the season but it was probably too early.
This is a vegetative plant.

One day I will get a good photo of the flower but this is not it.

There were beautiful cloud formations at sunset.

On the 17th, at 10.30am a Golden Eagle flew west, with a prey item, low over Treshnish wood and landed in the tall conifers there and at mid-day a female Hen Harrier flew west over Treshnish wood. There was a Spotted Flycatcher near the car-park for Kilninian black-beach. A Tawny Owl was heard calling at night from Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
Andy Stoddart and Maja Passchier saw an adult White-tailed Eagle low over Treshnish Old Schoolhouse which flew off towards Calgary and 2 Sparrowhawks ‘just west of farm along Haunn track’ and a Merlin ‘chasing Meadow Pipit on hill on far side of Ensay Burn and road’.
During a walk to Carsaig Arches

which at times looks decidedly ‘western’

there were 6 House Martins near the beach, a newly fledged Ringed Plover with parent on the beach, a juvenile White-tailed Eagle, flying (NM5321) over Carsaig bay from the west and along the coast, several Yellowhammers including one family (adult with food and newly fledged young), 2 Twite at NM5119 and 2 at NM4918, a juvenile Wheatear at NN5019 and at NM4918, 2 juvenile Great Black-backed Gulls begging for food at NM4918.
It was excellent for Keeled Skimmer where I saw 3 males (on the woodland path)

several Small Copper butterflies

a form of Yellow Shell I haven’t seen before

and a caterpillar to identify.

A bee landed with on the ground holding part of a leaf larger than its own body (NM5220).
There were many Field Gentians along the coast.
I found some Bog Pimpernel on a peat bank. The habitat is exactly the same as where I found the flowering New Zealand Willowherb on the 15th. The leaves are very similar.

On the 16th Andy Stoddart and Maja Passchier saw a Sparrowhawk ‘just west of farm along Haunn track’.
I investigated some flowering plants which I had noticed a couple of weeks ago in Treshnish vegetable garden. Amongst the usual Red Dead-nettle there were some with cut-leaves. I was surprised that they were growing together and so may have missed it before but after further investigation I am sure it is a new plant for Treshnish, Cut-leaved Dead-nettle. I checked the Mull Flora and they give only one record at Iona and warn of confusion with Northern Dead-nettle (which they also consider rare and cite records only from Iona and Uisken on the adjacent Ross).
This is Cut-leaved Dead-nettle

and this is Red Dead-nettle (which is, according to the Flora, more common on Mull).

On the 15th there were about 50 Sand Martins, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Spotted Flycatcher , an adult Blackbird still gathering food for newly fledged young and an alarmed Wren was showing signs of breeding, all by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. There were also Lesser Redpoll, Siskins and a possible Common Crossbill flying over Treshnish wood.
A couple of weeks ago there was a Mallard female with a half grown chick on Treshnish lochan. Today I went to see if they were still there. At first I couldn’t see anything and thought I had left it too late. Then whilst walking around the lochan looking for dragonflies there was a big plop beside the dam wall. Frog, I thought, no too big. Fish? Then I saw a line of bubbles and a diving Mallard. It was very skulking and took a while to re-locate but finally I found in on the other side of the lochan. Because the mother was not there I could get close.

On this sunny day I counted about 200 Scotch Argus butterflies in the rough grassland around the farm track beside Treshnish wood and this is only exploring a little way off the track. There must have been many more!
Surprisingly there were no dragonflies on the farm track. I had to go the Treshnish lochan to find 1 Common Hawker and 4 Common Blue Damselflies. There are usually plenty of Common Darters on the track. I looked at my records and see this lull at the end of August, which is very strange as there is no double-brooding in dragonflies as far as I know. These records are my records covering four years (this year not entered yet) which should level out any weather irregularities.

Surprisingly the records of others for Mull, Coll and Tiree do not have this lull but this could be due to poor recording in the autumn as there are no post August records at all.

This apparent lull does not alter the fact that this has been an extremely poor year, so far, for Common Darters at least on Treshnish. I have only seen 3 this year on Treshnish and 1 at Quinish! Hopefully they are just late this year. We should also start to see Black Darters about now. The season is over for Four-spotted Chaser and Large Red Damselfly, so any late individuals would be noteworthy. Common Damselfly should still be around for another couple of weeks and there may also be the odd Golden-ringed Dragonfly still on the wing.
At night an Anomalous moth came to a window at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. It is the first of the year and not common on Mull. I saw 1 in 2006, 3 in 2007, 1 in 2008 and 4 in 2009. It is a ‘light sleeper’ and so a very difficult moth to photograph.

I was very pleased with myself today because some vegetative plants of New Zealand Willowherb I had identified in the spring, turned out to be correct. It is very similar to Bog Pimpernel but I had only been shown the leaves very quickly by the Mull plant recorder, so I was never sure until now, when it has flowers.

This shows how small it is!

On the 14th there was a Golden Eagle low over Treshnish wood in the morning and there were over 200 Shags in Calgary bay and also as 4 or 5 Twite and flying Lesser Redpoll at Treshnish cowbarn. Andy Stoddart and Maja Passchier saw a Common Crossbill in Treshnish garden (this is only our second record of this species) and a Spotted Flycatcher near Shian cottage. They put the number of Shags at about 400, a more accurate number and they also saw 2 adult White-tailed Eagles fly ‘over headland across bay from farm’ and 3 Great Skuas ‘offshore in Sound of Coll,’ Common Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler both ‘in bracken below and NW of farm’.
I was pleased to see that the Swallow nest in the hut beside Middle cottage, Haunn, now has young. The previous nest with young was found on the ground on the 10th of July and may have been the result of an attack by a feral cat. Exactly a week ago the nest contained eggs so they have hatched between the 8th and the 13th. This probably means the House Martins eggs at Treshnish House have also hatched by now as their nest fell on the day after the Swallows.
At night a Tawny Owl was heard at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
There was at least 1 Basking Shark in Calgary bay mouth and guests at Duill cottage saw 3 Otters playing and calling about half way between Port Haunn and Lòn Reudle.
At night another poor moth-trapping night although it was probably too clear a sky.
The best moth was the pale form of Neglected Rustic.

This is the first Neglected Rustic of the year. Although I caught 11 in 2007, I only trapped 1 in 2008 and none last year.
Another or possibly the same White Ermine came to the light trap.

I have been told by experts that this is indeed an unusually late date for White Ermine.
I don’t have a good photo of Hedge Rustic in my gallery so here is a beauty

and here is another beautiful moth, Barred Chestnut.

There was 1 Peacock by Treshnish House and 1 Peacock, 1 Grayling and 2 Meadow Brown butterflies in Black Park field, Haunn.
On the 13th a Golden Eagle was over Treshnish House in the morning and in the evening the male white-headed Golden Eagle was over Treshnish wood and calling loudly at Treshnish lochan and later still, before sunset, a Golden Eagle dived to the usual perch in Treshnish wood and again at sunset.
There was at least once Greenfinch at Treshnish House and some Twite at Duill cottage and in the afternoon a Merlin flew west over Treshnish wood. There were 5 Sand Martins over Treshnish wood.
At night I was surprised to see a White Ermine moth

coming to our window. It is very late for this species and it was fresh looking. There is a second brood in some parts of the Britain (presumably the south) but even this second brood is supposed to be in September-October and as far as I know a second brood had not been noted on Mull. I am trying to find out more.
On the 12th a pair of Golden Eagles were calling over Treshnish wood. Both eagles were calling but the male was calling the loudest and most often and also displaying with undulating dives.

On the 10th on the Ross there was an obliging Yellowhammer.

Migrants there included, House Martin, Wheatear and Common Sandpiper.
The most interesting plant was a possible Sea Pea.

I don’t think there are any records from Mull. It may turn out to be a cultivated pea as there were other escapes: Japanese Knotweed, Fuchsia, Tomato and Monkeyflower.

Other plants included: Gypsywort

Ray’s Knotgrass, Field Gentian, Agrimony, Hemp Agrimony, Water-pepper, Scots Lovage and Upright Hedge-parsley.
On the 9th there was a Spotted Flycatcher at Kilninian (NM3945).
During a walk from Kilninian to Mornish (Langamull forest) there were hundreds of Scotch Argus, this pair were mating (note the different forms).

On the Kilninian side of the hill there was also this mating pair of Dark Green Fritillary.

This was a good example of Fir Clubmoss.

On the 8th there was at least 1 possibly 3 Whimbrels at Quinish pier (NM4054) and Wheatears still present there (NM4056 & NM4154).
we found a young Common Toad near Quinish Point.

There was a pond with at least 3 Blue-tailed Damselflies near Quinish Point (NM4056) and in a clearing in Quinish wood there were 2 or 3 Common Hawkers and this female Common Darter (NM4153).

Also at the end of Quinish wood we flushed this beautiful Dark Marbled Carpet (NM4154).

I found a fresh Hazel Gloves fungus near Quinish standing stone.

Near Quinish pier there was Skullcap and Gypsywort

and a new plant for me Water-pepper.

This photo shows the two types of leaves of Harebell.

On the 7th there were 2 Golden Eagles on Cruachan Treshnish (one with prey) in the early evening and much later at dusk 1 with prey above Treshnish wood. Snipe were drumming in the day at Haunn and a Tawny Owl was heard at night at Treshnish wood.
Rod Everett found an Adder half way between Treshnish House and Haunn. This was in the same area that an immature was found squashed last month.
At night moth trapping was not prolific but it attracted one beautiful moth, Burnished Brass

and one Nationally Scarce moth Bleached Pug (recorded in less than 100 10×10 squares).

I have only caught this moth in 2007 when I caught 5.
On the 6th there was 1 Willow Warbler by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
I found out that adult Cornrcrakes are flightless at this time of year when they are moulting their flight feathers, so the one I saw flying last week at Toechtamhor must have been just before moulting, unless they are capable of flying short distances.
The males moult about a week after singing has ceased from mid July to mid August and the females moult about 3 weeks after the males.
The first brood of chicks have probably flown south by now but the second brood will still be here and also flightless.
On the 5th there was 1 Spotted Flycatcher near the french ‘No Hunting’ sign beside Treshnish wood and a Wren dusting itself on the farm road near Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
We found a Light Knot Grass caterpillar at Reudle (NM3645).

This is the first time I have seen this caterpillar although superficially it looks a bit like a Fox Moth and I may have missed it. I caught 6 of these in 2007, 7 in 2008, 2 in 2009 and 2 in 2010.
On the 4th a pair of Red-throated Divers were heard flying over Treshnish lochan. On Ulva there was a Wheatear near the ferry (NM4439).
On a walk along north Ulva I found some Moonwort one of my target species for this year! It was a little past its prime.

On the 2nd I received back the post mortem results of the Barn Owl I found dead at Bennan, nr Calgary last year on 29th of July. It was also aged as a juvenile from the previous year. Unfortunately the internal organs were too decomposed to determine the cause of death but it had no poison and it was thin.
On the 1st a Golden Eagle was sky-diving with shallow undulations above Treshnish lochan and soon after a pair were over Treshnish wood. One or two were seen for the next 3 hours right up to 10pm over Treshnish wood.