Saturday, 20 December 2008

Ardeer Quarry LNR public consultation

As part of the development of the Ardeer Quarry LNR management plan, Stevenston Environmental Group is holding a public consultation on proposals for the reserve. Several of the projects are butterfly/moth/dragonfly related.

Details of the projects and the group's email address can be found at:

Physical work cutting back scrub, felling trees, etc. will probably start at the end of winter. With all the red tape involved in creating a new wetland, I'm guessing that work won't begin on this until the end of next summer.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Ruby Tiger Larvae

Dear All,

A number of people have reported seeing Ruby Tiger larvae this year, but not from Ayrshire. They are small hairy, brown (sometimes black) and an orange body stripe sometimes. They run fast and can be found in grassy areas often looking for bare ground, which is warmer than other places. Let me know if you've seen any with the Grid Ref. Here's a picure taken last year:

Best wishes,

Neil Gregory

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Garnock East

Warm sunshine for much of today saw lots of Common Darters out, many in copulating pairs. Good numbers of Black Darters too, including a couple of copulating pairs. Also, a Common Hawker was out and about.
(Photo: Black Darter)

Friday, 26 September 2008

Migrant Hawker

I came across a Migrant Hawker yesterday (25th September) hawking along the woodland edge near the eastern end of Auchenharvie wood in Stevenston (NS 262 420). There’s only one previous record for Ayrshire, but it is a species extending its range northwards. Whether my sighting is indicative of a greater presence by the species in the NW this year I don’t know. However, it’s worth keeping an extra eye open for them over the coming weeks (their flight season extends into November).

It was feeding 8-16 feet in the air and was intermediate in size between Common Hawker and Common Darter. I found the dragonfly to be very obviously smaller than Common Hawker – a size difference I wouldn’t have expected from reading the field guides. Because of its small size, it didn’t give the impression of being a ‘miniature aeroplane’ like the Common Hawker does. The individual I saw hawked with the end of its tail curved slightly.

This size difference was accompanied by a feeding behaviour noticeably different from that of Common Hawker.

It fed far more frantically than Common Hawker, taking detours off its flight path far more frequently to flycatch – dipping down one second then jumping up the next. Similarly, it also changed direction far more often when hunting. Changing direction frequently and randomly, it covered a smaller area than Common Hawker when feeding.

To those familiar with the jizz and behaviour of Common Hawker and Common Darter, Migrant Hawker should stick out like a sore thumb – the difference in size and behaviour between the two species is obvious.

It’s worth pointing out that Migrant Hawkers can turn up just about anywhere; they don’t just frequent wetland habitats. The one I saw was several hundred metres from the nearest pond, hawking along a woodland edge.

Also worth mentioning, I’ve seen a few Red Admirals powering about recently, including one today at Eglinton and two yesterday at Auchenharvie. Also a couple of Peacocks during the past week: 1 at Shewalton Wood on Sunday and one at Garnock East on Tuesday. There was also a Common Hawker at Garnock East on Tuesday, along with dozens of Common Darters.

(Photos: Common Darter at Garnock East)

Monday, 1 September 2008

Ardeer Quarry LNR

A window of sunshine for a few hours today saw a few butterflies on the wing at Ardeer Quarry: 3 Common Blues, 2 Red Admirals, 1 Small Copper, 1 Meadow Brown, and 1 Small White. Also, there was a White Ermine moth caterpillar crawling across the tarmac.
(Photos: Common Blue, Small Copper, White Ermine moth caterpillar)

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Garnock East

Wet weather and soaking grass. Not great conditions for butterflies, but as I walked through the long grass at Garnock East I disturbed a Common Blue, a Peacock, a Green-veined White, a Meadow Brown, and a Small Heath – a good variety for such a wet day. As conditions got better, a Peacock and 2 Green-veined Whites were on the wing. An Elephant Hawk-Moth caterpillar was crawling across the road at Garnock East.
(Photos: Small Heath and Elephant Hawk-Moth caterpillar.)

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Stevenston 23rd August

Walking in the countryside NW of Kerelaw in Stevenston, I came across only a few butterflies: 1 Red Admiral, 1 Small Tortoiseshell, and 4 Green-veined Whites. At Ardeer Quarry there were a couple of Green-veined Whites, a Peacock, a Meadow Brown, and what I think is a Shaded Broad-bar moth.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Ardeer Quarry LNR 19th and 21st August

Unfortunately I've been away from the county for most of the summer, but thankfully I'm able to catch the tail end of the season. On the 19th there were 4 Common Blues, 3 Small Coppers, 8 Green-veined Whites, and 1 Meadow Brown at Ardeer Quarry LNR. On the 21st there were 5 Common Blues, 3 Small Coppers, 4 Green-veined Whites, 1 Large White, 3 Meadow Browns, 2 Peacocks, and a Silver y moth. (Photos: Common Blue, Silver y moth, Small Copper)

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Fritillaries Galore In Rankinston Area

Yesterday I followed the track which runs from the end of the road above Rankinston below Bow Hill as far as Dunston Hill (NS4312 and NS4412) and counted 60+ Dark Green Fritillaries and 8 Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries, many of these were found on the first grassy hillocks to the right of the path just beyond the wooden bridge.

Other butterflies seen in this area were:-
1 Large White, 2 Green-veined Whites, 1 Common Blue, 1 Small Heath, 76+ Ringlets and 9 Meadow Browns.

I also searched the Bow Bing for Graylings but none were found.

Sunday, 15 June 2008


My first Ringlet of the year at Gailes Marsh today – a nice fresh, silky, dark individual. Low numbers of everything else such as Small Copper, Small Heath and Common Blue. Damselflies were fairly scarce with the following found: Emerald Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly, Azure Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly and Large Red Damselfly.

Fraser Simpson

Meadow Brown at Eglinton Loch

Meadow Brown seen at Eglinton Loch. Also, plenty of Common Blue Damselflies in the water vegetation at the west end of the loch with a single Common Hawker and Large Red Damselflies in drier habitat at the east end.

Gordon McAdam

Saturday, 14 June 2008

In the shelter of North Glen App

I checked a few sites on the southern coast today but it was clear that the wind was one factor in the low numbers around. Still, Pinbain Burn had a single Grayling (my earliest record), 10 Large Skipper, 2 Northern Brown Argus, 1 Wall, 6 Common Blue, and 3 Small Heath. Moving inland to the shelter of North Glen App proved a wise move with some good counts:

Dark Green Fritillary (17)
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (13)
Large Heath (17)
Small Heath (70+)
Large Skipper (2)
Wall (1)
Golden-ringed Dragonfly (min 9)

Also Meadow Brown, Common Blue, Green-veined White, Peacock (very worn individual from the 2007 brood), Chimney Sweeper, Large Red Damselfly, Crossbill (4+), Jay and Tawny Owl.

Fraser Simpson

Portencross Today

Very little about today: only one micro-moth (unknown sp.), no Burnets or Blues or Whites about! I think the wind and temperature were just too low.

The rocky outpost next to the pier at Portencross is fanatstic for flowers:
Wild Thyme
Devil's-bit Scabious
Northern Marsh Orchid
Bird's Foot trefoil
Blooody Cranesbill
A small white bladder type campion
Red Campion
Lady's Bedstraw

There were also 8 Large White larva on the field escaped Oil Seed Rape plants - see picture

Nil Gregory

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Basking Shark - Bennane Head

Report of a Basking Shark at Bennane Head on 09/06/08 only 4m out from the shore!

Thursday, 5 June 2008

National Moth Night 7 June

From Neil Gregory...

Just a reminder that National Moth Night is happening this Saturday. We would be very grateful for any records you may have from day-time observations and night time trappings. Please contact your local moth recorder with your records. Below is a message from the National Moth Night team with a little more information:

"Once again National Moth Night (organised by Atropos and Butterfly Conservation) is upon us and this year we are celebrating its 10th anniversary. Even more reason to go out into your gardens and the wider countryside to record moths!

For 2008, NMN includes a daytime element and a change from the normal macro-moth only list of targets with the inclusion of both micro-moth and habitat targets, respectively Anania funebris and Orchards; the macro-moth targets being Bordered Gothic (Heliophobus reticulata) and Narrow-bordered bee Hawk-moth (Hemaris tityus).

It is recognised the target species and habitat will not be in the reach of every recorder or public event; however, the NMN team do encourage recorders and event co-ordinators to allocate their own local targets of interest, an ideal opportunity to do so.

For 2008, we strongly encourage the use of the revamped NMN data submission form and the new NMN recording template forms (Microsoft Office and Sun Systems OpenOffice formats) which will be made available from the NMN website ( for the event until the end of the year. Along with a short questionnaire, the data submission form gives provision for recorders to attach the NMN recording templates, MapMate `Sync' files (in preference to submission via the MapMate Web Server) or any other suitable data format (visit the NMN website for further details).

On behalf of the National Moth Night team, thank you for your continued support for the event and let's hope for good weather and a bumper crop of moths!

Regards, Les Hill.Data manager, National Moth Recording Scheme

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Dalmellington Area - 4th June

Today whilst out walking in the Dalmellington area I saw a very early Dark Green Fritillary near Dalcairnie Glen, this is the first time that I have ever seen this butterfly before the last week of June, other butterflies seen were as follows: -

Bogton Loch > Dalcairnie Burn/Glen > Wee Berbeth Loch/Hill
60+ Green-veined Whites
3 Small Whites
8 Orange Tips
12+ Small Heaths

Dalmellington Moss
4 Green-veined Whites
1 Orange Tip
2 Small Heaths

Monday, 2 June 2008

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary

Sunday 1st - Near Drumshang Loch in the Carrick Hills

2 Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries
3 Small Heaths

Sunday, 1 June 2008

May Roundup

30 May
Borland Fishery: Orange-tip, Green-veined White, Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral (AS).

26 May
A stop at Pinbain Hill on the way home produced the first 3 Northern Brown Argus along with about 12-13 Wall Browns (RHH).

20 May
During the past week lots more butterflies have been seen within the village and in surrounding areas, these have included the first sightings for 2008 of Small Heath (3 on 19th), Large White (1 on 18th) and Small White (1 on 13th) as well as loads of Green-veined Whites, some Orange Tips, a few Small Tortoiseshells and Peacocks and 1 Red Admiral (JC).

18 May
A walk round the Garnock Floods and the west side of the railway embankment: plenty of Green-veined Whites and Orange-tips, with a few Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells and a single Small Copper. Plenty of Large Red Damselflies, a few female Azure Damselflies, several Four-spotted Chasers (GM).

Garnock East: Small Copper near the railway at Ardeer Quarry; Four-spotted Chaser over scrub near the upper Garnock Estuary; and a Blue-tailed Damselfly in a ditch at Ardeer Quarry (IH).

15 May
Craigdow Loch: 4 Green Hairstreaks, 10 Green-veined Whites and an Orange-tip (JC).
Culzean and Kirkoswald area: loads of Green-veined Whites, 16 Orange-tips, 5 Small Whites, 8 Small Tortoiseshells and 3 Peacocks (JC).
Glen App : Wall Brown and Red Admiral (RHH).

13 May
Glen App: 6 Small Heath (RHH).

11 May
Garnock East: 3 Small Tortoiseshells, 6 Peacock, 5 Green-veined Whites, 7 Orange Tips. Ardeer Fen: 15 Green-veined Whites. Ardeer Quarry: 7 Peacocks, 2 Small Tortoiseshells, 17 Orange Tips, 7 Green-veined Whites (IH).

6 May
Had a very enjoyable 2 hours wandering around one of my "local" tetrads this morning (south edge of Blairquhan up to Dyke Farm). Lots of Orange-tips about (RHH).

3 May
Culzean: 2 Peacocks (G).

2 May
Ardeer Quarry: 10 Orange-tips, 1 Peacock and 3 Small Tortoiseshells (VF).

1 May
Garnock East:Large Red Damselflies (c150), 15 Peacocks, 7 Orange Tips, 3 Green-veined Whites, and 9 Small Tortoiseshells (IH).

Thanks to Gayle, John Candlish, Vallerie Firminger, Iain Hamlin, Angus Hogg, Gordon McAdam, and Alistair Simpson for the news.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

A few firsts

A few firsts of the year (for me): Small Copper in the cattle field at Garnock East and near the railway at Ardeer Quarry; Four-spotted Chaser over scrub near the upper Garnock Estuary; and a Blue-tailed Damselfly in a ditch at Ardeer Quarry.


Friday, 16 May 2008

Cuckoo Flower

Here are some things to look out for on cuckoo flower:

Orange-tip eggs - just under the fowers on the flower stems.

Adela rufimtrella - a long horned micro moth that feeds on cuckoo flower and garlic Mustard (in the same way orange-tips do). you will see them occassionally on the cuckoo flower flowers. Flying now.

Micropterix calthella - tiny micro on buttercups and cuckoo flower. Shiny wings, yellow head

I would be especially pleased for some rufimtrella records as I have no Ayrshire records and it must be present. calthella has been recorded, but with no specific records as yet.

See for pictures.

Neil Gregory

Loudon Castle Moths

Species list from Moth Trapping at Loudon Castle on 10/05/08 for Irvine Valley Walkers. Over 60 attendees, but mostly interested in bats!

Least Black Arches

Scalloped Hazel

Early Thorn

Water Carpet


Hebrew Character

Flame Shoulder

Common Carpet

Red-green Carpet

Pale Prominent

Common Quaker

Clouded Drab

Brindled Pug

Double-striped Pug

10xMay bugs too

Neil Gregory

Stevenston area, 11th May

Garnock East:
3 Small Torts
6 Peacock
5 Green-veined Whites
7 Orange Tips

Ardeer Fen:
15 Green-veined Whites in a relatively small area of Marsh Marigold and Cuckoo Flower

Ardeer Quarry:
7 Peacocks – holding territories along tarmac road at east of reserve.
2 Small Torts
17 Orange Tips
7 Green-veined Whites

(Photos: Small Tort at Garnock East; Orange Tip in overcast conditions on previous day at Ardeer Quarry)

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Garnock East 1st May

Warm sunny weather saw the sudden emergence of many Large Red Damselflies - about 150 seen in the scrubby areas on a circuit around Garnock East. Also, good numbers of butterflies: 15 Peacocks, 7 Orange Tips, 3 Green-veined Whites, and 9 Small Tortoiseshells.


Wednesday, 30 April 2008

April Roundup

30 April
Small Tortoiseshells, 2 Peacocks, 1 Red Admiral and a Green-veined White at Rankinston (JC)

28 April
Orange-tips in Ayr gardens (RGV) (JT).

27 April
First Green Hairstreak of the season at Drumtee. Also 7+ Emperor moths (FSS).
The upper part of Glen App held 3 Peacocks and at least 5 Green-veined Whites (RHH).
Colmonell had a pair of Orange-tips (RHH).
More male Orange-tips at Maxwelston and Hamilton Bridge in the Girvan valley (RHH).
A few Small Tortoiseshells and an Orange-tip in Ardrossan and Portencross (SMcM).
Orange-tip and Small Tortoiseshell in Kilmaurs garden (RT).

19 April
Two Peacocks at Finnarts Bay (RHH).

17 April
First Green-veined White of the season in Glen App (RHH).

13 April
Peacock basking in full sunshine at Loch Finlas (GM).
Single Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell at Bargany and Crosshill respectively (RHH).

3 April
Peacock near tennis courts in Kay Park, Kilmarnock (AS).

Thanks to John Candlish, Angus Hogg, Gordon McAdam, Stuart McMahon, Alistair Simpson, Jim Thomson, Robin Turner and Dick Vernon for the news.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Green Hairstreak emergence

A single Green Hairstreak on the wing at the Drumtee colony north of Fenwick on Sunday 27th. Most of the forestry here has now been harvested and most of the hairstreak habitat patch (strip of fenced blaeberry/heather/etc between the forest edge and grazing) has been trashed by machinery. If the site is left as a clear fell it'll probably recover in time. Also at least seven Emperor moths buzzing around. No hairstreaks at Corsehouse Reservoir yet.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Dragonflies link from Ayrshire Birding

I've added a new link at the bottom of the floating menu on the Ayrshire Birding web-site to Fraser's new Dragonflies in Ayrshire web-site.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Small Tortoiseshells emerging from hibernaculums

The unseasonal, double-figure temperatures and extended sunshine have resulted in several Small Tortoiseshells flying or basking this week. Singles have been noted near Girvan on the 12th, at Crosshouse Hospital on the 12th, and at Borland Fishery, Cumnock on the 13th. Thanks to Alan Paxton, Alistair Simpson and Robin Turner for these reports.