Outings are for members only so if you would like to experience any of these why not join the society .
Anyone taking part in society outings does so at their own risk
PNHS outing to Clyde Muirshiel Park on 30th April 2017
by Tom Byars
This outing was co-led by myself and Pat Emslie (Clyde Muirshiel Ranger & PNHS member) to look for the Green Hairstreak butterfly. Eight members turned up for this trip, all with eager expectations of seeing the beautiful Green Hairstreak butterfly – a new species for myself and I suspect for many others too!
The weather, although dry and bright was still rather windy and cool, so not ideal conditions for butterfly watching. Undaunted we set off with Pat to check out some perfect Blaeberry habitat where the butterfly colony is situated.
After a steep climb through the conifer plantation, we approached the site with anticipation. The air was full of Willow Warbler song, softly cascading away in the background and a Raven “kronked” close by overhead. With our heads down, we picked our way carefully through the fresh growth of Blaeberry and heather, looking for any sign of butterfly flight.
There were plenty of Bumblebees about though, especially the White-tailed Bumblebee Bombus lucorum. Identified by its distinctive looking silky white rear end and bright yellow bands on the abdomen and thorax, the bigger looking queens stood out from the smaller yellow headed males. Suddenly, a darker looking bee flew past me and at first glance I thought it might be a Red-tailed Bumblebee, but as it settled to feed on some Blaeberry flowers, I could see it was something radically different.
This was the Blaeberry Bumblebee Bombus monticola, a much rarer upland species. Identified by the duller straw yellow bands on the thorax and orange red colouration, extending over more than half the abdomen, whereas the Red-tailed just has the abdomen tip coloured red. I managed to get in some quick pictures before it flew off and only saw it a couple more times, albeit rather briefly. There appeared to be only 1-3 individuals on the site, whereas the White-tailed Bumblebee was far more common with at least 20+ flying around.
This was a new species of bee for myself and a few other non- experts in the group and was due compensation for not seeing the Green Hairstreak, which many believed had still yet to emerge!
As a post script, an entomologist friend of mine had recently discovered a Green Hairstreak colony just a few miles from my home in Saltcoats! So, I went along during that fine weather in the middle of May and managed to capture some beautiful images!