Saturday 6 August 2011

Eye-catching Insects (5): Summer Isles Insect

While we were in the north of Scotland, we took an afternoon cruise to the lovely Summer Isles, off Achiltibuie, some way north of Ullapool. It was a very calm, mild but somewhat grey day as we set off, but much to our delight, the sun came out and the intense metallic blues of the ocean were a sight to behold.

Our vessel took us around the island of Tanera Mor, before we landed for a little exploration and some refreshments. The insect life was amazing, and this iridescent green beetle caught my eye. It wasn't going to hang around, so I only managed two photos - and the other was rather fuzzy! The picture below is a cropped close-up to aid identification.

I really hadn't paid much heed to the spots on the creatures back, but having Googled away, I am wondering whether they may be more significant than I had realised. I am wondering whether this could be a species of Green Tiger Beetle, though perhaps 'Leopard Beetle' would be more appropriate since these are definitely spots and not stripes!

The Essex Field Club have announced that Jerry Bowdrey is researching the distribution of this insect in their part of the world. My identification may not be correct, but I would be grateful - out of interest - if anyone was able to let me know. I gather from Buglife that there are 5 species in Britain.

I thought you would like this photo below of some of the other Summer Islanders!

  • Green Tiger Beetle on Buglife
  • and on ARKive
  • Tanera Mor - 'Making Scotland's Landscape' with BBC presenter, Iain Stewart

Thursday 4 August 2011

Seals, Sharks and Cetaceans (3): Bottlenose Dolphins in the Moray Firth

A satisfied dolphin-watcher (me!)
We recently returned from a glorious holiday in Scotland, visiting lochs, lochans and a few islands. I shall begin at the end, for one of our final stops was on the Moray Firth to watch the dolphins. We were not disappointed!

The photo above has been included to show how narrow the strait is at this point - and to show just how close to the shore the dolphins were happy to come.

One minute there was a tail flip ...

... and then a back flip.

Sometimes it was hard to tell whether we were watching one dolphin or two.

There is something very serene and submarine-like about these creatures!

It was difficult to predict where the dolphins would surface, in terms of having the camera poised, so this is a rare facial picture.

... and so is this. Could it be a mother and calf? 

There certainly seem to be two dolphins here.

I am fascinated by the four tiny peaks of water on the left hand side.

Mother and calf swimming off in tandem ...

The Moray Firth is a great place to watch dolphins because they come so close to the shore. There are boat trips for those who prefer to watch from the water. Dolphins, of course, are wild creatures and come and go as they please. They are not always around, but we have watched from this spot (with binoculars, camera and monopod to hand) on several occasions now, and have been very lucky. These are apparently the most northerly Bottlenose Dolphins in the world, and we feel very privileged to have shared in these moments of their lives.