The Bog Squad have just returned from a wonderful trip to Islay where we have been helping to restore a beautiful peat bog on the island.
Whilst the rest of the Scotland seemed to be engulfed in snow we were enjoying some lovely sunshine albeit accompanied by a rather bracing breeze. Our challenge for the week was to remove invasive spruce and rhododendron scrub that was encroaching onto the moss. By the end of the week we had ensured that a massive 54 hectares of the bog was now scrub free! A magnificent effort by the team.
We spent our spare time sampling the delights that the island has to offer and I don't mean the whisky! (Although a few wee drams were enjoyed during the trip.....) Gaggles of geese were seemingly in every field, waders called evocatively from the shoreline and the ferry trip yielded bottlenose dolphins and Black-throated Divers. There was even a Snow Bunting! Ironically found in just about the only place in Scotland with no snow. Though despite our spending of vast amounts of time on a bog Hen Harriers somehow proved elusive.
Moths were hard to come by too in the cold temperatures. Our moth trap was empty on the only night we ran it, a balmy 2 degrees Celsius not enough to tempt the moths out of their slumber. A lovely Northern eggar caterpillar was found out on the moss though.
It was however sunny enough to tempt out Marsh Fritillary caterpillars from their winter hiding places and quite of few of their larval webs were spotted one day. Caterpillars of the Marsh Fritillary live communally in a web on the ground and can be easy to spot during the late summer and then again in early spring when they re-emerge.
Thanks to our wonderful volunteers for all their efforts and to the staff of the CANN project for hosting us! I'll leave off with a few more images from the trip.........