Sunday 23 September 2012

A few more Migrant Hawkers

A male Migrant Hawker today patrolling over the small pond at Ardeer Quarry LNR. Earlier in the week, another Migrant Hawker watched through a telescope as it sat on a tree at Garnock East.

Tuesday 21 August 2012

More Migrant Hawkers

A couple of days ago, two male Migrant Hawkers were hunting along the cycle path through Ardeer Quarry Local Nature Reserve.

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Migrant Hawkers 2012

I had my first Migrant Hawkers of the year yesterday evening, including one hawking along the cycle path at Ardeer Quarry Local Nature Reserve.


Thursday 29 September 2011

August Migrant Hawker

On 22nd August, I passed by Ardeer Fen with my compact camera in my pocket and, when a hawker landed on Gorse in front of me, I (over)excitedly took the opportunity to get a few macro shots. I was so engrossed in this photo opportunity, the fact that it could be something other than a Common Hawker never crossed my mind. Today I looked through the photos on that SD card for the first time and was surprised to find that it was actually a Migrant Hawker!

Saturday 10 September 2011

Another Migrant Hawker

When the sun came out at a windy Garnock East this afternoon, about 40 Common Darters and 3 Common Hawkers were in a sunny woodland ride and a male Migrant Hawker was patrolling over a sheltered pool nearby.


Thursday 8 September 2011

Migrant Hawkers

Over the past couple of years, I’ve had a few brief encounters with dragonflies that I’ve assumed to be Migrant Hawker - and this is despite the fact that I visit Ayrshire only rarely nowadays. However, other than one I watched at some length a couple of years ago in Stevenston, I’ve always written these sightings off as ‘maybes’. However, on Tuesday I was totally convinced that a small Hawker hunting along the woodland edge at Ardeer Quarry LNR was a Migrant Hawker. The next day, whilst birding at Garnock East, I was pretty sure I saw at least one other individual hawking high around a Willow tree before shooting off through the wood. It got to the point where I thought that either Migrant Hawker is not that uncommon in Ayrshire or I’m having serious trouble with my dragonfly IDs.

So today I ventured out to Garnock East armed with net. A break in the clouds brought out a few Common Hawkers and a few dozen Common Darters. After two suspected Migrant Hawkers evaded capture, I found one individual hawking at the edge of a conifer plantation, occasionally crossing paths with a couple of aggressive (and noticeably larger) Common Hawkers. I eventually managed to net the dragonfly to confirm my suspicions - it was indeed a Migrant Hawker.

I suspect that Migrant Hawker really isn’t that unusual in Ayrshire - at least not nearly as rare as the NBN distribution map suggests.

Friday 25 March 2011

First Butterflies

The warm sunny spring weather during the past couple of days has brought out the first few butterflies of the year.

Thursday 24th
Rankinston - 3 Peacocks and 2 Small Tortoiseshells
Coylton - 1 Peacock and 2 Small Tortoiseshells
Auchinleck - 1 Small Tortoiseshell

Friday 25th
Rankinston - 1 Small Tortoiseshell

Thursday 9 September 2010

Painted Lady

A Painted Lady today in suburban Stevenston was the only one I've seen this year. A couple of Small Coppers were on the Ardeer Brownfield land at Garnock West and 3 Small Heaths were at Bogisde Racecourse.


Saturday 10 July 2010

June at Ardeer

With solitary bees and wasps the focus of my attention, I wasn't very conscientious with regard to butterfly counts. However, on the 26th June I made a count of 69 Dark Green Fritillaries on the Ardeer Peninsula. The biggest surprise though was when a suspiciously small fritillary which I quickly netted as it flew past turned out to be a Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary. Literally hundreds of Ringlets too and mind-boggling numbers of Six-spot Burnet Moths.

It will take a long time to ID all of my bees and wasps under the microscope. However, below are a few pictures of ones that are already ID'd.

Ceropales maculata - a 'cuckoo' Spider Wasp
Chrysis ruddi - a Cuckoo Wasp
Nomada marshamella - a 'cuckoo' solitary bee
Anthophora furcata - a solitary bee
Coelioxys elongata - a cuckoo of leafcutter bees
Ectumnius contunuus - a digger wasp
Hedychridium ardens - a Cuckoo Wasp
Colletes floralis - a solitary bee

Oxybelus uniglumis - a digger wasp

Colletes floralis
Six-spot Burnets on Viper's Bugloss

Small Copper on Hawthorn
Dark Green Fritillary
Dark Green Fritillary

Saturday 8 May 2010

First Small Heath

Whilst out walking in the Rankinston area this afternoon I saw my first Small Heath of the year (this is the second earliest date on which I have ever recorded this species), other butterflies seen in the area were 22 Green-veined Whites, 7 Orange Tips and 1 Peacock. This morning I also saw 3 Green-veined Whites, 1 Orange Tip and 2 Peacocks near Sinclairston.

Sunday 25 April 2010

Green-veined Whites

I saw my first 4 Green-veined Whites of the year yesterday flying near Coylton bowling green, I also saw a Peacock yesterday and 2 Peacocks and a Small Tortoiseshell today in the Rankinston area.

Thursday 22 April 2010

Emperor Moth

Have you seen an Emperor Moth in Ayrshire?

Emperor Moths are superb creatures that are emerging now and can be found in many habitats including hedgerows, but especially on the moors. You can find them sitting on top of heather for instance until the end of May. We have only 20 sightings for Ayrshire recorded and would like to find out more about it's distribution.

Friday 16 April 2010

Cinnabar Moth Survey 2010

This survey, which began last year, is continuing through 2010.

Like many of the commoner moths, the Cinnabar has undergone a long-term decline in recent decades (83% over 35 years, based on Rothamsted trap data) and at the UK level is now regarded as a vulnerable species (see ‘The State of... Britain’s Larger Moths’ report). It remains widespread across England & Wales, but is much scarcer in Scotland, where it is most often seen in coastal areas. Butterfly Conservation, with support from the Moths Count team, wants to learn more about where it occurs and this is most easily done by spotting the colourful orange and black caterpillars which feed on ragwort leaves, often in such large numbers that they strip the plants completely. The caterpillars can be seen in July and August; the equally striking adult moth has a long flight season, starting in late May and, because it is easily disturbed during the day and will fly when it’s sunny, may also be recorded during the same period.
Postcards showing both the larva and adult were widely distributed in 2009 and further publicity is planned for this year. People are being asked to send in any sightings using either the postcards or directly by e-mail to Barry Prater , the Moth Recorder for Berwickshire.

There was a pleasing response from BC members and others and the map shows all the 2009 records received; if you know of more from last year do please send them in.
One of the objectives of the survey is to highlight the issue of moth conservation in the context of the overall pressure on biodiversity. The reliance of Cinnabar larvae on the widespread but controversial plant ragwort, known to be toxic to horses, may raise conflicts of interest, but a very helpful leaflet ‘Ragwort Friend or Foe’, prepared jointly by Butterfly Conservation, Plantlife and the British Horse Society is available from the BC Scotland page of the main BC website. The leaflet outlines the benefits and problems of ragwort and gives advice on its management.
Anyone who lives here or others who visit the area during the summer can help by taking part in the survey.

Wednesday 17 March 2010

First bumblebees in Monktonhill

I know it is slightly outside the normal scope of this site, but I saw my first bumblebees in our garden at Monktonhill today. I only got close to one (out of at least three), and that appeared to be the usual Bombus terrestris.

We still have 11 Small Tortoiseshells hibernating in our porch.

Roger Hissett

Friday 12 March 2010

First butterfly of the year

Earlier this morning I saw my first butterfly of 2010, it was a Small Tortoiseshell fluttering between a handful of Dandelions in the lovely sunshine near the former location of Littlemill Colliery just outside Rankinston.

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)