Dog days of summer

Published: 6th August 2009

Here in Lochaber the weather was rather mixed throughout July, and continues to be variable into the first week of August. Things are starting to look tired as the summer wears on, but there is still plenty of interest about.

Scotch Argus are everywhere around Glen Loy at the moment, and seem to have had another good year, whilst there have also been tremendous hatches of Green-veined White, by far our commonest buttefly. A recent influx of Red Admirals has added a dash of coloiur to the butterfly scene. One or two interesting sightings included very late Pearl-bordered Fritillary at the end of July by the Caledonian Canal, and an unusual Small Copper (for us). Pleased to hear that our June discovery of Marsh Fritillries by the coast was a new site. They have done quite well locally by all accounts.

A number of large Hawker dragonflies are on the wing, patrolling the forest paths. These are mostly Common Hawkers, although our resident Southern Hawker has a regular beat around the Lodge car park, and will often come up to us to investigate if we are still. It is a bit of a lottery spotting other dragonflies, and indeed butterflies at present as the weather is so changeable.

The Pine Marten kits have been long weaned now, but still  visit us to feed, often in twos and occassionally threes – they are finally getting the hang of running along the window ledge without falling off. They are providing good entertainment for visitors and are pretty reliable, unless it is poouring down! Have also seen a few bats hunting in the middle of the day, locally, which is somewhat strange – possibly weather related?

Saw a large family of Jays up Glen Loy this afternoon – at least 8!. The Jays are more often heard than seen, but seem to be doing well in the oak woodlands round about. There are good crops of hazels and acorns to go at again. Large flocks of young birds are worth pursuing as they can turn up some interesting stuff – recent flocks have included Treecreeper, Long-tailed Tit and even Wood Warbler.

The Heather is starting to bloom, whilst the Ragworts and Knapweeds are at their best at the moment, along with Goldenrod by the River Loy. Devil's-bit Scabious is also starting to flower – a sure sign that summer is lengthening.

Other local sightings reported are Basking Sharks and more Minke Whales around the Small Isles, and Golden Eagles up the glen. Who says it all goes quiet in summer?