Thursday, 22 October 2009

Late Red Admiral

This afternoon I saw a Red Admiral flying around in the autumnal sunshine on the outskirts of Rankinston, it is the first butterfly that I have seen for about a month despite there being quite a few warm and sunny days since the start of October.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Possible Migrant Hawker

Had a possible Migrant Hawker at Garnock East today - 'possible' because I only watched it for about 30 seconds. After having made hundreds of sightings of Common Hawker at the site over the summer, this insect's behaviour immediately struck me as being different from your typical Common Hawker: it zoomed back and forth only a few inches above a brackish saltmarsh pool, changed it's altitude significantly a few times in a very short space of time, often reching quite a height, and was much more graceful in flight than your average Common Hawler - i.e. it didn't move like a'rigid toy aeroplane' the way Common Hawker does. Moreover, my immediate impression when first laying eyes on the insect was that it was a darter - it took me a couple of seconds to realise it was a hawker. Unsually when I see Common Hawker there's no mistaking it for a darter. As with last year's Migrant Hawker, the size difference between this individual and Common Hawker was very apparent.

Annoyingly, the insect flew off after about half a minute, before I could get a satisfactory look at is - so I shan't submit it as a definite record.

On the butterfly front, things have, of course, quietened down. The 'Painted Lady' explosion never really happened around the Ardeer area, with 6 butterflies along a 300m stretch of track at Garnock East a few eeks ago the highest count I made. I've noticed quite a few Red Admirals flying about since the fine weather started. Yesterday, 3 were nectaring on Aster beside the upper Garnock estuary. A couple of Painted Ladies were at the Ardeer Brownfield land too, along with a worn Small Copper. Another Small Copper was at Ardeer Fen.

On Sunday, a Common Blue was still on the wing at the Ardeer Brownfield land.

Today, a sunny patch of Sedums in a garden in my street in Stevesnton had 3 Red Admirals, a Peacock, a Small Tortoiseshell, and a Painted Lady.

(Photo: Red Admiral on Aster)

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Stevenston Moths

Taking advantage of a window of dry weather, I conducted my first remote mothing session for a while on some scrubby coastal heathland. No rarities, but highlights included Canary-shouldered Thorn, Treble-bar, Ear Moth, and Antler Moth.

(Photos: Canary-shouldered Thorn, Antler Moth, Treble-bar)

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Ardeer Spit

My first trip to the peninsula for a month or two produced 12 Dark Green Fritillaries, a Small Copper, 2 Peacocks, 150+ Common Blues, plus dozens of Graylings. A Drinker Moth had just emerged from its chrysalis.

(Photos: Dark Green Fritillary; Drinker Moth)

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Second Generation

Had my first second generation Small Tortoiseshells at Ardeer Fen about a week ago. Today I had my first Peacock and Small Copper, both on the Ardeer Brownfield land. Also, 3 Small Tortoiseshells at Ardeer Fen today.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Ardeer Brownfield land

A walk around the woodland at Ardeer produced 11 encounters with male Common Hawkers, both along the woodland tracks and over the woodland ponds. A couple of Four-spotted Chasers and 4 female Common Darters were also seen. A Dark Green Fritillary was in a lush area of grassland beside the wood. A Red Admiral was on Bramble at the edge of the wood; another one was at Ardeer Fen.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Ardeer Brownfield land

A walk through the Ardeer Brownfield land produced 110 Common Blues and 71 Graylings. 2 Common Hawkers and a Common Darter were at the woodland edge, as was a Red Admiral nectaring on Bramble flowers. I encountered another Red Admiral flying down my street in Stevenston.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Ardeer area

Yesterday, the first Red Admiral I've seen for a while was resting on a t-shirt on my washing line. An evening walk on the Ardeer Brownfield land produced a Grayling and 3 Painted Ladies. Owing to the rain, my moth trap out at Ardeer produced very little, but a Poplar Hawkmoth was a pleasant surprise.

(Photos: Poplar Hawkmoth; Grayling; Red Admiral)

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Ardeer moth trapping

Some of the more visually impressive moths attracted to a portable moth trap in my first out-of-the-garden trapping session were True Lover's Knot, Sallow Kitten, Grass Emerald, and Green Carpet. Gill Smart had a Grayling at Ardeer today - the first I've heard of this year.

(Photos: Sallow Kitten, Green Carpet, Grass Emerald)

Friday, 26 June 2009

Ardeer Brownfield land

Yesterday, I saw my first Common Hawker of the year flying along a woodland track. Further up the track I saw my first Cinnabar caterpillars of the year on Ragwort. A Brimstone moth was nearby. 3 Painted Ladies were the first I'd seen for a while. I also had one randomly flying through Stevenston and a couple more today. I could just be randomly seeing more than usual, or perhaps there's a slight increase in migration activity.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Ardeer Brownfield land

Despite being exceptionally hot and humid, there was a significant breeze and so most of the active butterflies were in and around the woodland at Ardeer. A Dark Green Fritillary briefly nectared on some Red Clover. Also along the woodland tracks and roads were 4 Common Blues, 8 Ringlets, and 2 Meadow Browns.

(Photos: Common Blue)

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Six-Spot Burnet Distribution


Here's the latest 2km distribution map of Six-Spot Burnet to complement the Chimney Sweeper the other day. I suspect it should be found in the majority of coastal areas. There is an odd gap between S Largs round the coast to Port Glasgow.

Hopefully we can fill in a few more dots...


Stevenston Dunes

I counted 56 Six-spot Burnets at Stevenston Dunes. Also, there were 12 Small Heaths, a Meadow Brown, 6 Yellow Shells, and my first Common Blue of the year.

(Photo: Six-spot Burnet moths)

Friday, 19 June 2009

Chimney Sweeper Distribution

Here's the current distribution at 10km resolution of Chimney Sweepers in Ayrshire. Hopefully we can fill in a few more 10km records this year.

Neil Gregory

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Garnock East

A lot of browns today with 23 Ringlets and 7 Meadow Browns at Garnock East. Also, 5 Small Heaths and 3 Small Coppers, but still no Common Blues. 3 Chimney Sweeper moths were in a mating frenzy in the horse field at Garnock East. A 30m wade through some Pignut revealed another 11 Chimney Sweepers.

(Photos: Chimney Sweepers; Small Copper; Meadow Brown; Ringlet)

Monday, 15 June 2009

Meadow Brown

Taking a shortcut through Ardeer Quarry today, I disturbed my first Meadow Brown of the year from long grass. Also, 4 Four-spotted Chasers were at the small Ardeer Quarry pond.

Sunday, 14 June 2009


Heading out to Stevenston Dunes in the unexpectedly sunny conditions resulted in less than expected: 3 Small Heaths, 2 Small Whites, a Yellow Shell, and a Silver-y. However, at Ardeer Quarry I had my first Ringlet of the year. Also, at Ardeer Quarry I disturbed Clouded Border and Common White Wave moths from damp woodland.

(Photos: Ringlet; Clouded Border)

Friday, 12 June 2009

Pinbain Burn and Bennane Head

Another 3 firsts earlier today - Dingy Skipper, Northern Brown Argus and Common Blue.

Pinbain Burn
1 Large White, 12 Green-veined Whites, 4 Northern Brown Argus, 5 Common Blues, 14 Painted Ladies and 11 Wall Browns.

Bennane Lea / Bennane Head
1 Dingy Skipper (Bennane Head), 3 Large Whites, 2 Small Whites, 23 Green-veined Whites, 2 Northern Brown Argus, 1 Small Copper, 25 Painted Ladies and 16 Wall Browns.

(Photos: Wall Brown; Common Blue; Northern Brown Argus)

Tuesday, 9 June 2009


9 Small Coppers, 5 Painted Ladies, and 2 Cinnabars were on the Ardeer Peninsula. 13 Small Heaths, 4 Small Coppers, and 9 Painted Ladies were in Stevenston Dunes. The dune's thistles were the first I've seen in bloom and were evidently popular with the Painted Ladies.

(Photos: Painted Lady; Small Heath)

Monday, 8 June 2009

Garnock East

7 Four-spotted Chasers were in scrub at Garnock East - I get the impression there are more than usual this year. A couple of Mother Shipton moths were together in some wildflower-rich grassland. Both yellow and brown forms of Yellow Shell were disturbed from vegetation. 8 Small Coppers were on my route through the site, including 5 in the horse field. 3 Drinker Moth caterpillars were also on my route.

(Photos: Four-spotted Chaser; Mother Shipton; Yellow and brown Yellow Shells; Drinker Moth caterpillar)

Saturday, 6 June 2009

First Fritillaries

The past week has been an excellent one for butterflies in the Rankinston area, on Monday 1st June I saw my first 6 Dark Green Fritillaries of the year in the Bow Hill area (NS4312, NS4412 and NS4512) and then on Thursday 4th June I saw my first Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (NS4413). This and the surrounding area must surely be one of the best places in Scotland to see both these species in good numbers as I recorded 40+ Dark Green Fritillaries and 20+ Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries multiple times here during 2008. Other butterflies seen were:-

Large White - 2 on 01/06 and 3 on 02/06
Small White - 2 on 02/06
Green-veined White - loads everyday but 300+ on 01/06
Orange Tip - a few every day but 20+ on 01/06
Green Hairstreak - 4 on 01/06
Red Admiral - 2 on 01/06
Painted Lady - a few every day but 20+ on 01/06 and 04/06
Small Heath - a few every day but 14 on 02/06 and 18 on 04/06

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Painted Ladies in Kilmarnock

News from Alistair Simpson

Wed, 3 Jun 2009
Painted Lady (2) in Townholm, Kilmarnock
Another in Wardneuk garden, Kilmarnock

Tue, 2 Jun 2009
Painted Lady at the Rugby Club, Kilmarnock

Mon, 25 May 2009
Orange-tips at Borland fishery, Cumnock

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Further Painted Lady news from last weekend

News from Angus Hogg

Sat, 30 May 2009
It's not often (if at all) that you can point to Glen App as the scene of an invasion but, between mid Glen App and Girvan, there were at least 80-100 Painted Ladies today, with 30 past in 20 minutes at Ballantrae. As if that wasn't enough, not 1, but 3 Red Kites drifted NE together over the glen at around 10.30, all of them untagged, 2 being immature (2nd cal yr) birds, the other an adult. Also present in the glen were a single Common Crossbill and a Cuckoo, Kilantringan Loch had at least three 4-spot Chasers along with several Large Red Damselflies and Common Blue Damselflies - and a newly emerged Small Heath.

Sun, 31 May 2009 Still they come!
Another day full of Painted Ladies - not quite 702, but close on 100 spread between Drumlamford and Barjarg at one end and Pinwherry at the other. Several Orange Tips still on the go too - and a Small Copper at Barjarg. Other insects of note included 4-spot Chasers at Corwar House, Barwinnock and Barjarg.

Wed, 3 Jun 2009
Wednesday morning in Galloway Forest Park near Loch Riecawr provided 45+ Four-spotted Chasers at one site, a single Golden-ringed Dragonfly and a basking Adder in one of the rides.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Stevenston Dunes

My first 6 Small Heaths of the year were at Stevenston Dunes today, along with a Cinnabar moth and a Painted Lady laying eggs on thistles. I didn't see any Green Hairstreaks at Ardeer Quarry, but single Lead Belle and Silver Y moths were near the Gorse.

(Photo: Lead Belle)

Green Hairstreak

Alistair Murdoch, one of North Ayrshire Council's rangers, had a single Green Hairstreak beside Gorse at the south of Ardeer Quarry yesterday (1st June).

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Painted Lady immigration - Sun 31 May

Painted Ladies were active from 0704h along the disused railway line between Kilmarnock, Knockentiber and Springside and before it was time to head back for breakfast, 32 had been counted along with 12 Orange-tips plus the other three pierids. In Kilmarnock, Painted Ladies were heading NW at a rate of 2/min around midday but on the coast between Troon and Irvine, no obvious movement was detected. Gailes Marsh only had 7 and a 1.5 km stretch south from Irvine harbour mouth produced just 15. Did anyone record large numbers in the south of the county today?

Large Red, Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damselflies noted at a few sites in the Irvine area.

Painted Lady immigration - Sat 30 May

Incredible numbers of Painted Ladies along the south coast on Saturday (31/05/09) - easily surpassing the county's biggest previous invasion in 1996. We stopped counting at 702! In contrast to London earlier this week when most butterflies were urgently flying north without stopping, most of today's individuals were resting and feeding on almost every available nectar source (particularly Brassicaceae, Asteraceae and Trifolium spp.) but a northward movement was still apparent in the fairly strong SE wind. Some numbers: 199 along a 500m stretch from Pinbain Burn south; 234 between Bennane Lea & Port Vad; 209 along a 500m stretch from Ballantrae Pier south; only (!) 36 at Currarie Port. Also noted from the car in every 1km home to Kilmarnock. At a rough estimate, assuming an even distribution of numbers and uniform habitat, there could have been at least 50000 along the Ayrshire coast today. Other highlights: Dingy Skipper & 21 Wall at Pinbain; 48 Wall at Bennane Lea-Port Vad; 8 Wall at Currarie, and large numbers of Silver-Y everywhere. Nine other spp inc Large Skipper, Small Heath & Small Copper.

Fraser & Alistair Simpson

Ardeer Peninsula

Seem to be fewer Painted Ladies around today, with 15 along the sea defences between Stevenston Point and the Robert Burns mural. Also along this stretch were 2 Cinnabar moths and a Small Copper. 7 Small Coppers were sat along a track on the peninsula. Another Cinnabar and a Mother Shipton moth were also present.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Painted Ladies Everywhere

I have seen virtually nothing but Painted Ladies during the past 24 hours, it all started with 4 near Rankinston last night followed by another in Ayr early this morning but that didn't prepare me for what I saw today at Ballantrae. As soon as I walked down towards the beach there were at least 10 flying just in front of me and between Ballantrae and Bennane Head I stopped counting at 200 and all the way up the coast from Balcreuchan Port to Pinbain Burn/Pinbain Hill it was exactly the same so there must have been at least a few thousand Painted Ladies flying in the Ballantrae area today. The other butterflies seen were 160+ Green-veined Whites, 18+ Large Whites, 5 Small Whites (but there may well have been quite a few more), 3 Orange Tips, 6 Small Coppers, 3 Peacocks, 2 Small Tortoiseshells and 50+ Wall Browns (including 23 at Bennane Lea/Bennane Head and 15 at Pinbain Burn) but I found no Dingy Skipper, Large Skipper or Northern Brown Argus although it may be slightly early in the year for the latter 2 species.

Painted Ladies

Painted Ladies everywhere today. Most notable counts were 5 flying through Garnock East and a further 27 nectaring - mainly on Bird's-foot Trefoil. Across the Garnock at the Ardeer Brownfield land, 31 were nectaring in a 40mx40m patch of Bird's-foot Trefoil.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Ardeer Brownfield land

No Painted Ladies yet, but 7 Small Coppers were within a couple of hundred metres of each other. A Cinnabar moth was on a patch of dune heath and a Pyrausta purpuralis pyralid moth was in a wildflower-rich woodland clearing. The scortching temperatures saw hundreds of solitary bees and wasps hovering low over the sandy areas - a lot of Sphecodes cuckoo bees in particular.

(Photos: Pyrausta purpuralis; Sphecodes sp.)

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Waiting for the Painted Lady invasion to hit Ayrshire

With millions of Painted Ladies arriving in Southern England over the past week and the promising forecast for this weekend, it looks like many will be moving through Ayrshire. In central London this morning I observed a steady northerly stream of butterflies flying at speed across some of city's busiest streets!
More here on the BC website:

Monday, 25 May 2009

Green Hairstreaks in Kyle Forest

During a walk through the Kyle Forest from Rankinston to Sinclairston yesterday I discovered Green Hairstreaks in this area for the first time, I found 7 on the edge of the forest near Ewe Hill (NS4512 and NS4511) and another 2 near Knockguldron (NS4813), I also saw 90+ Green-veined Whites and 24 Orange Tips and a large number of these butterflies were seen along the stretch of road between Knockguldron and the northern edge of the forest.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Garnock Estuary Area

On a sandy, wildflower-rich track on the Ardeer Brownfield land across the river from Garnock East, 2 Small Coppers were basking (2 more at Garnock East and 1 at Ardeer Fen). A Cinnabar moth was there - my first this year - and the ground was alive with solitary wasps. A Common Heath moth was nearby.

Yesterday, a BTCV insect netting event at Ardeer Quarry produced only one moth, which they identified as Least Black Arches, a very local moth in Scotland.

(Photos: Small Copper; Cinnabar)

First Small Heath

I saw my first Small Heath of the year this morning near the village of Rankinston (NS444143), other butterflies seen in the area were 24+ Green-veined Whites and 3 Orange Tips.

Saturday, 16 May 2009


Largely overcast and with a cool east wind, I didn't encounter a single butterfly during my walk in the countryside above Stevenston, until I reached Auchenkist Farm. A marshy field, 300m x 40m, dotted with Cuckoo Flowers, had at least 80 Whites dancing about during sunny spells. My best estimate of species composition was 62 Green-veined Whites, 13 Orange Tips, and 5 Small Whites.

(Photos: Small White; sheltered, marshy field)

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Small Tortoiseshell survey

This survey was brought to my attention today:

A few firsts

The warm, sunny weather today produced my first Four-spotted Chaser, Blue-tailed Damselfly, and Azure Damselfly at Garnock East. Single Small Copper and Red Admiral were across the Garnock at the Ardeer Brownfield land.

(Photos: Four-spotted Chaser; Azure Damselfly; Blue-tailed Damselfly)

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Small Copper

My first Small Copper of the year was flushed from a worn track at Garnock East this afternoon.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Green Hairstreaks at Craigdow Loch

During a visit to Craigdow Loch near Kirkoswald this afternoon I saw my first Green Hairstreaks of 2009 (a total of 7 butterflies), other butterflies seen in the Kirkoswald/Craigdow area were 18+ Green-veined Whites, 6 Orange Tips and 2 Small Tortoiseshells.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Red Admiral

My first Red Admiral of the year was at Garnock East today. A Common Carpet was disturbed beside the wood.

(Photos: Red Admiral; Common Carpet)

Friday, 1 May 2009

Holly Blue in Ayrshire (again!)

Following Angus Murray's discovery of a Holly Blue in his garden in Ayr on three dates last August, he has recently sighted a first brood male on 22 April. Observers are encouraged to search out this species throughout the county.

There are a number of interesting questions and possibilities here: is the species holding on at a few undiscovered locations?; has it recently colonised from coastal D&G (and why no records in the large gap between?); has it (as eggs/larvae) been accidentally introduced with holly/ivy/another plant which may have come via garden centre from further south?

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

First Large White

My first Large White of the year was nectaring on various woodland edge dandelions at Garnock East today. Also at Garnock East were 2 Orange Tips and 9 Green-veined Whites. A Small Tortoiseshell and a Peacock were basking just over the Garnock East boundary fence at Bogside Racecourse.

(Photos: Orange Tip; Large White; Peacock)

Monday, 27 April 2009

First damselflies

On Saturday I had my first damselflies of the year: c.60 Large Red Damselflies in the scrub around Garnock East. Also on the wing at Garnock East were 5 Green-veined Whites, 2 Peacocks, and 1 Orange Tip.

(Photo: Large Red Damselfly)

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Rankinston Area

There were 10 Green-veined Whites, 3 Orange Tips and 3 Peacocks seen this afternoon in the Rankinston area, I also saw a single Green-veined White in Cumnock earlier this morning.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Ardeer Quarry and Eglinton moth

7 Peacocks (6 basking along the Railtrack road), 3 Green-veined Whites, and a Small Tortoiseshell were at Ardeer Quarry this afternoon. This morning, a Flame Carpet moth was roosting on a fence post in Eglinton Country Park.

(Photo: Flame Carpet)