Nature Notes


February 2006


Sea Eagles have been seen round Lismore at Point, Fiart, Laggan and possibly other places. Since their nests have been protected on Mull they have brought a great deal of revenue to that island and we can only assume the same would happen here.


Sadly Mink continue to be a big problem for ground nesting birds, waders etc but traps are set about the island and recently at Salen they have been catching them regularly. It is assumed that they cover the islandís coastline with one every 300 metres or so, but were a concerted effort made to trap them consistently, the wildlife may have more of a chance.


The recent good weather has brought out the Marsh Fritillary caterpillars (below) and they have been seen in abundance at Salen. The Marsh Fritillary was once widespread in Britain and Ireland but is thought to be declining at about 10% per decade with an identical decline in Europe. However, Argyll and the Argyll islands now hold some of the most significant populations in Europe several of which are on Lismore.


Listening to a lecture from Tom Prescott in Summer 2005 and seeing the caterpillars (right and below) in February 2006


The butterfly is on the wing from the end of May and the caterpillars live communally protected inside conspicuous webs on their sole food the Devils-bit Scabious. Because the butterfly is only found where its food is abundant, usually on damp grassland or open moor land, it is important that these sites are grazed ideally by cattle to retain and promote the scabious. With Argyll being one of the last places in Britain where the Marsh fritillary butterfly occurs, fostering their young is very important.

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