Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Photos from Nicolien Brandenburg

Some weeks ago a very enthusiastic young lady came to the Centre with lots of flower questions. We spent a long time in the library studying her photos and the various flora guides. I asked her to send me some photos and include a portion of her email (unedited) below as it is such a delightful read. She went on an expedition up Beinn Bheigier with her family, which she describes so well:

All of the flowers in these photo's were found on Kindra,  made during our trip 'Walk on the Wild Side' to Solder's Rock.
Beinn Bheigier was exiting, as halfway up we had to leave behind Sifra, her body could not cope. When we did reach the top we were stuck in a rainstorm! We managed to get to the first ridge, but didn't find the second one. We were pressed for time. On our walk down we lost the track, and ended up in the heatherbushes.
Eventually we found Sifra and the track, and proudly carried on downhill to our parked car. YES!!! WE MADE IT!!!
Thankyou very much for the splendid day at the museum and hopefully you will make use of our pictures!


Garden Tiger Moth

Heath Speedwell

Heath-spotted Orchid

Purple Loosestrife

Red Bartsia

Wild Thyme

Scots Lovage - Ligusticum scoticum

Professor Steven Mithen talk tonight

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Fungal foray

Thanks to Alistair Hutchison for these fungi photos taken near Laggan on Sunday. It's defnitely that fungal time of year again.

Egghead Mottlegill -

Panaeolus semiovatus var. semiovatus -
This species, which grows on animal dung is extremely variable in size from just a few millimetres up to 150mm depending on the amount of nutrients available to it.

Possibly some form of slime mould (very similar to that seen on yesterday's ramble)

Yellow Wax Cap - possibly Hygrocybe ceracea

Monday, 26 August 2013

Bàgh an Dà Dhoruis

Apologies for any mis-spellings in the title - my map is so worn that I can no longer read it in places! *Thanks Armin - now corrected!* Lorna and I had a long walk to this beach on the north coast of Islay on Saturday. It was a most glorious day with just enough breeze to make walking comfortable and keep the midges at bay! We saw lots of wildlife, with caterpillars being our highlight this time. This beach is perhaps my favourite beach on Islay (I know I've said somewhere on The Oa is, but I've just changed my mind!) It's pretty inaccessible too, which means it's never mobbed and has lots of volcanic sills as well as views of Colonsay. Now all the thousands who read this will be heading to the north of the island . . . A wonderful walk!

Bombus hortorum - Garden Bumble Bee

Broom Moth caterpillar

Emperor Moth caterpillar

Satyr pug caterpillar

Ramble at Sanaigmore, 26th August 2013

Every ramble is special and unique with its own blend of personalities and sightings, none of which is really within anybody's control and it is this element of surprise which is so exciting about our nature rambles. Today's was so full of wonder and excitement that it has definitely made it into my own personal top five in the INHT ramble charts! Thanks to all who came. A special mention should be made of the inexhaustible Whitney who had asked me to make her a chart to tick off everything she saw. This I did, complete with a points system (which, it has to be said, was revised en route - the harebell obviously getting more points than anything else!) She managed to clock up 1333 points by the end of the ramble and hopefully learnt something as she went! Well done, Whitney! Thanks too to Ann who gave an impromptu geology lesson and pointed out the differences between phyllite ("a type of foliated metamorphic rock created from slate that is further metamorphosed so that very fine grained white mica achieves a preferred orientation." Wikipedia) and greywacke ("a variety of sandstone generally characterized by its hardness, dark color, and poorly sorted angular grains of quartz, feldspar and small rock fragments." Wikipedia) Other highlights were the otter (a first for 8 out of our 13 ramblers), a slime mould and a Painted Lady butterfly. Something for everyone then! (Except for the elusive Chough!)

Common Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Starling, Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Oystercatcher, Shag, Linnet

Bird's-foot Trefoil, Meadow Buttercup, Silverweed (leaves),Common Storksbill, Monkey Flower, Water Forget-me-not, White Clover, Red Clover, Lady's Bedstraw, Daisy, Mouse-ear Chickweed, Common Hawkbit, Eyebright, Spear Thistle, Creeping Thistle, Lesser Burdock, Common Nettle, Common Ragwort, Autumn Gentian, Common Centaury, Self-heal, Wild Thyme, Pineapple Mayweed,  Red Bartsia, Marsh Willowherb, Yorkshire Fog, Fairy Flax, Harebell, Yarrow, Curled Dock, Cut-leaved Cranesbill, Water Mint, Harebell, Purple Loosestrife, Cat's-ear

Painted Lady, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Green-veined White, Harvestman, Cranefly, Large Yellow Underwing


Xanthoria parietina, Red Waxcap, Yellow Waxcap, Slime Mould sp

Red Waxcap

Slime Mould

The Centre Lobster

lobster 2013_2 a video by Odd Wellies on Flickr.
Watch our lobster having a mussel meal!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

More moths

I've been trapping moths in my garden all summer, usually a couple of times a week, and catching an average 100 moths a night. Up to about a dozen common species can make up at least 75 or 80% of the total catch, but the remainder sometimes include moths I've not caught before. Last night, there were no less than three of these. The Bordered Beauty has only been caught five times before on the island and the tiny (7 mm long) Ancylis badiana only three times (one of those was by Becky two years ago). The Crescent has been caught about 20 times before, just not by me!

Bordered Beauty

Ancylis badiana


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Flower Power at Killinallan

It seems that every time I turn up at Killinallan it starts raining, and yesterday was no exception for our flower power session in which we learned all about pollination. We counted 15 species of flower in a metre square including Frog Orchid and Autumn Gentian and discussed how important scent and colour is to bees and other pollinating insects.

Maisie takes a diversion from butterflies and holds a tiny Shore Crab

Goldspot moth - note its curled proboscis - on Devil's-bit Scabious

Dark Green Fritillary - this butterfly was very obliging and stayed for ages on this Scabious, displaying the green sheen on the underside of its hind wings which give this species its name.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Ramble at Kilchiaran, 19th August 2013

We had a great turn out for today's ramble, with all ages and interests represented. It was a welcome challenge to keep being asked about Islay's geology and to have various types of rock pointed out to us by our younger ramblers who repeatedly showed up my lack of knowledge on the subject! Thanks to all for such enthusiasm!

Herring Gull, Common Gull, Hooded Crow, Buzzard, Rock Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Rock Dove, Sand Martin

Marsh Woundwort, Lady's Bedstraw, Harebell, Tormentil, Bird's-foot Trefoil, Dove's-foot Cranesbill, Water Mint, Meadow Buttercup, Lesser Spearwort, White Clover, Red Clover, Common Milkwort, Self-heal, Pineapple Mayweed, Mayweed, Eyebright, Red Bartsia, Common Nettle, Marsh Thistle, Spear Thistle, Creeping Thistle, Hawkweed, Daisy, Forget-me-not sp, Foxglove, Marram Grass, Curled Dock, Thrift, Mouse-ear Chickweed, Meadow Vetchling, Butterwort, Common Centaury

Green-veined White, Small Copper, Small Tortoiseshell, Bombus pascourum (Common Carder Bee), Bombus lucorum (White-tailed Bumble-bee), hoverfly spp, 

Xanthoria sp, Anaptychia runsinata, Ramalina sp, Ochrolechia parella

Marsh Woundwort

Malcolm tells us about geese and their droppings

We listen avidly

Monday, 19 August 2013

Brilliant Butterfish

What a contrast we are noticing between our Butterfish residents of this year and those of last year! We currently have 3 individuals all as bold as each other. During the touch tank demonstrations, they are sure to be nearby; watch out, you may feel them as they peck your hand looking for their next meal! I've also included a couple of photos of two of our other creatures.
One of our 3 Butterfish. There are 2 smaller ones and one big one.

Whoever said Prawns aren't pretty?

Boss of the big tank!


Friday, 16 August 2013

More Record Breakers at the Centre

Some of our quizzes can be quite challenging at the Centre but this did not deter Robyn, Tabby and Islay from giving many of them their best shot. Avid followers of our blog, Robyn (16) became our youngest person to correctly answer the very difficult butterfly quiz; Tabby (7) became our youngest person to complete the brainy numbers quiz and Islay (9) became the youngest person to work out the weights quiz. Well done to all of them - and not forgetting Cath who worked diligently at most of the quizzes in the age 10 - 110  pack, determined to become our oldest Wildlife Explorer of the Year (she's somewhere in the middle of that age bracket!) See you on the ramble on Monday!

Tabby with her completed numbers quiz

Islay weighing sand for the weights quiz

Robyn with her butterfly quiz

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Beachcombing Treasures

  Here is the result of a fun filled family activity session beachcombing on Uiskentuie Strand yesterday - Geeves the Jellyfish! Thanks for joining us everyone. The next family activity session is Tuesday 20 August meeting at Killinallan gate for some Flower Power.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Record breakers at the centre!

I am writing today feeling enthralled after another busy afternoon at the Visitor Centre yesterday. The animals had the busiest feeding time EVER with 20+ people crowding round the tanks as they helped drop the frozen prawns. The lobster wasn't his usual shy self either, putting on a show as he sped to his lunch before gracing us with claws and antennae, peering at us as he munched. Once again, I was amazed by the creative genius of one of our younger visitors who having discovered a lack of pipecleaners to make a lobster, took matters into his own hands, creating a fabulous Oystercatcher (the very first in INHT craft records)!

All hands on deck for the Touch tank feeding! I couldn't fit everyone in the photo.
The very first INHT Oystercatcher!


Monday, 12 August 2013

Ramble at Killinallan, 12th August 2013

Just two for today's ramble and it would appear I arrived five minutes too late because I'd just missed the female hen harrier and, more importantly the juvenile White-tailed Eagle which was fishing on Loch Gruinart prior to my arrival. Just the way it goes I suppose. We nearly missed being rained upon today, but not quite. The wonder of Killinallan is that from May through to September there is a splendid, ever-changing floral carpet. The predominant colour today was blue with a gorgeous array of Devil's-bit Scabious and Harebells adorning the dunes, providing much food for the bumble bees which were also in abundance today - hurray!

Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Eider, Curlew, Meadow Pipit, Wheatear, Oystercatcher

Grey Seal

Green-veined White, Dark Green Fritillary, Small Copper, Common Blue, Carabus Clatratus, Tachina Grossa, Common Darter

Grass of Parnassus, Black Bog Rush, Self-heal, Bird's-foot Trefoil, Cat's-ear, Eyebright, Spear Thistle, Marsh Thistle, Lady's Bedstraw, Red Clover, Bracken, Wild Thyme, Marsh Pennywort,  Lesser Meadow Rue, Northern Marsh Orchid, Frog Orchid, Field Gentian, Ragged Robin, Iris, Meadowsweet, Yorkshire Fog, Soft Rush, Sea Spurrey, Thrift (only just), Harebell, Tufted Vetch, Fairy Flax, Water Mint,  Marram Grass, Yarrow, Common Knapweed, Devil's-bit Scabious, Burnet Rose, Autumn Gentian, Devil's-bit Scabious, Autumn Gentian

Autumn Gentians

Shaggy Ink-caps

Small Copper

Tachina grossa

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Islay Show

It was another fun-filled and busy day at the Islay Show and we made an extra special effort to sell every one of our otter squares at this event - no-one was safe walking past our tent at 3.55 pm! Many thanks to Neil and Fiona MacGillivray who loaned their gazebo and provided the fishing game and presence throughout the day. Also to David and Jane Griffiths for helping out. We raised £228 altogether so well worth it!

The completed otter board

Fiona, face painting and fishing

Lobster face!

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Festival of the Sea 2013

We had great fun at this year's Festival of the Sea. We sold nearly all our popular 'otter squares' and holiday maker Andy from Bowmore won a bottle of Ardbeg whisky. Lorna was busy painting many faces as dolphins, mermaids, octopods . . . Becky and Jane assisted in the making of toilet roll lobsters and our collage picture and we sold lots of things in the shop. Thanks to Kirsten Laurie and all the organisers of this popular event for another fun-filled day. For more photos, visit our facebook page