Back in January a few of us involved in Curracag and the Outer Hebrides Biological Recording group decided to launch a phenology survey we ended up calling Signs of Spring. Phenology is the study of when things happen and for centuries people have systematically recorded when certain natural events occur. Perhaps the most famous phenologist […]
I enjoyed reading the recent summary of insectivorous plants in the Outer Hebrides and was reminded of it whilst taking part in my ritual but futile summer Horsetail pulling. Like many, my garden is riddled with horsetail and we have an uneasy truce. It grows, I pull it up, it grows, I pull and so […]
As if to tease us, indications of better things to come arrived just as daylight hours reached their minimum. The first tentative daffodil shoots appeared amongst the rapidly dwindling Calendulas in the garden and deep in the hedge a Song Thrush started to sing. Knowing that the worst of winter is still to come I […]
Like many people I run a moth trap in the garden. It gets put out on suitable nights from March through to November. The best nights are those with low wind speeds and overcast humid conditions. Evenings with heavy rain and high winds are definite no trap days. In the morning, hopefully, there will be […]
A close-up photograph of a dandelion flower reveals the strange strategy of dandelion pollination. Each “flower” is actually a composite of hundreds of individual flowers. Each has a single petal but its own set of male and female parts and produces its own nectar and pollen. Early flowering dandelions are a magnet for early flying […]
Doing the early rounds of the garden this morning I noticed big holes in some of the rhubarb leaves. The culprit was a large, hairy, black and orange caterpillar – the unmistakeable ‘Woolly Bear’ larvae of the Garden Tiger (Arctia caja). In the hedge a Sedge Warbler was belting out it’s scratchy song and in […]
Coming soon to a beach near you – the return of Arctic Terns and other summer visitors.
As I’m starting to write this (on the 15th March) I suddenly realise that the Redwings that have been around most of the winter seem to have disappeared. These small thrushes arrive in October from Scandinavia and Iceland. Many pass through the Outer Hebrides on their way to places further south in the UK but some will stay overwinter. In spring they return to their northern breeding areas. At the same time, far away in the Weddell Sea, just off the coast of Antarctica, another migrant species is about to start its long journey back to the beaches of the Outer Hebrides.
Early sightings of an amazing migrant butterfly from the Outer Hebrides. At this time of year, like many naturalists, I look forward to the signs of spring that inevitably herald the better summer weather yet to come; Oystercatchers and Ringed Plovers returning to their machair breeding sites, the first queen bumblebee foraging for nectar on early flowering daisies in the garden and the first butterflies.