Orchid show

Published: 19th July 2011

Glenloy internet gremlins have struck again, so apologies for not posting this blog, written 2 weeks ago, sooner.
The Greater Butterfly Orchids are putting on an impressive display in the Glen Loy area. I counted over 200 spikes along a mile section of the canal the other day, and there is even a prominent spike right by the junction with the Mallaig road at Banavie. Elsewhere, Heath Spotted Orchids are flowering in profusion. The Northern Marsh spikes are still in abundance along the main road past the school, although they are looking a little weary by now. Generally fields are looking impressive with a combination of buttercups, oxeye daisies , red clover, the first thistles and foxgloves in the hedgerows.
Despite these floral riches butterfly numbers are distressingly low at present, which is worrying as we have had some good sunny periods. Along the canal the other day I only saw a single Meadow Brown (along with numerous Chimney Sweep moths). A walk in bright sunshine yesterday produced a very aggressive Red Admiral, which chased everything off from its patch – and even gave us the eye! One bright spot was a local bog, which produced plenty of Large Heath, although these only seemed to be flying in full sun. This trip to Callop was intended as a search for dragonflies. We did manage to find a single male White-faced Darter, but these appeared scarce. There were rather more Four-spotted Chasers, busily chasing each other across the few patches of open water, a couple each of Gold-ringed and Common Darters, along with numerous Large Red Damselflies and a few Blue-tailed Damselflies. All told, a successful afternoon. The forest rides were full of Bordered White moths, which appeared in clouds around the conifers, mostly Scots Pine – possibly not a great sign.
Some guests showed me a picture of what they thought had been an Otter, seen with a fish on the Lochailort to Glenuig coast. This turned out to be a rather bold Mink, with a very large fish in its mouth, probably a wrasse, which was almost as big as it was. The local fish farms would probably not be too pleased to see this.
Our local Barn Owl is busy hunting at present, probably feeding chicks, and has made regular fly-bys of the Lodge in the late evening, which we have seen from the window as we have been sat in our lounge. The local Sparrowhawks also seem to have made a reappearance, and are regularly terrorising the bird feeders. The male sometimes pauses in the cherry tree above the feeders, particularly if he has been unsuccessful, and is very handsome.
Slightly further afield, the local Osprey nest appears to have been successful, with at least one large chick still in it. This must be very deep as the youngster can only be seen when an adult visits the nest, which otherwise gives the impression of being empty. Heavy showers must have hindered the mother. I watched it on the top of a dead tree preening and grooming a somewhat bedraggled coat for quite some time the other day, in between short flights (drying off and straightening out?), before she finally returned to the nest.