For two months now, I have been talking about the warm and dry weather that the Cairngorms has been experiencing. Well July wasn’t much different, with even warmer temperates and a continued High fire risk throughout. Lochs were packed with holiday makers and locals alike enjoying a dip in the water or sunbathing on the sandy beaches.
Days filled with sunshine have meant great sightings of some of our smaller creatures that live round small lochans, ponds and marsh lands. There was an abundance of Dragonflies, Damselflies, butterflies and moths everywhere you looked. A moth trap set out during the night can attract a wide variety of moths and the excitement in the morning to see what has come to the trap. One night, twenty-five moths were found, including Garden tiger, Large Emerald and Peppered moth as well as a Sexton and Heather Beetle. In the moorland heather were also two six – spot Burnet moths.
The Cairngorms is home to thirteen of the forty-three dragonflies and damselflies that breed in Britain. Most have a flight period of two months and a life span only about 4 weeks. They breed is open peatlands and ponds so a threat to their numbers can include this unusually warm weather we have experienced, meaning water sources could dry up. Still, a good number of Golden Ringed and white-faced Darters, Northern and Common Red Damselflies were spotted in the area this July. An interesting watch was a pair of Common Red damsels mating on the waters edge with a Raft spider killing and demolishing the female. The male however seemed unaware and was still clinging on as the Raft Spider had its dinner.
July was also a Great month for a selection of butterflies. The sunshine certainly drew them out onto the flowers and meadows giving some closeup views at the edge of paths. Butterflies like the Speckled Wood, Green Veined White, Scotch Argus and Dark Green Fritillary. This rather tired looking Small Heath was also a lovely find.
Find out how you could explore this unique part of the country, with Day guided days here.