Monday, 29 May 2017


The appearances of certain species are like milestones in the passage of the year. This little butterfly, a small heath, is an example. On Friday I saw the first, a lonely beast which didn't look as if it was enjoying the cloudy, cool conditions. In yesterday's sunshine, I counted half a dozen.

Caterpillars are beginning to appear. This is a large one, and seemed to be sunning itself on a rock, so must have been pretty confident that nothing was going to eat it. It's the caterpillar of the drinker moth. We've seen these caterpillars before but never the moth itself.

Here's another first for the year, a small grasshopper which would not stay still long enough for a photograph, not until he'd been chased across half a hillside. I'm fortunate that there are no onlookers at such times - at least, I hope there aren't.

It's often difficult to get a sense of scale from a photograph. This common lizard was small, perhaps 70mm long. Since the young are born in July, this is probably one of last year's brood.

Long suffering readers of this blog will know the Diary's love of orchids, and this is a slightly special one as it's the first orchid found this year in Ormsaigbeg. The earliest this year were along the Coiremhuilinn burn, and then we found some in the Kilchoan common grazings along the Sanna road, both of which were early - so perhaps this is going to be a bumper year for orchids.

This really is early, the first flowers on a bell heather. Again, it would be good if this could be a great year for heather as the last two years haven't been as impressive as they could have been, and the sight of Ardnamurchan's hills covered in a carpet of flowering heather is unforgettable.

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