Island treasures

Loch Lomond NNR

Though not the most accessible of our NNRs, the islands on Loch Lomond are definitely one of the wildest places on our reserves. These rarely-visited islands offer stunning views across the loch that few people without their own boats will get the chance to see (another perk of volunteering with us!).

A few weeks ago the NNR team visited the islands to clear any litter that had been left behind by people taking advantage of the absence of national park rangers during lockdown. Sadly, unsightly firepits and smashed bottles can be the norm when we rock up to do a litter pick and we managed to fill 3 rubbish bags’ worth.

Irresponsible littering aside… We enjoyed a walk around Creinch, Torrinch and Clairinch to see what hidden island treasures they had to offer. Each island provides something different and their beautiful oak woodlands have a wild, untouched feel to them. That particular day, it seemed that our hidden treasure came in the form of wee beasties!

One of our best finds was a purple hairstreak butterfly which are pretty uncommon in Scotland and also rarely seen as they are typically only found flying around the tops of oak trees. We came across this one basking in the leaf litter.

This is the perfect habitat for them as they are exclusively associated with oak woodlands. Their caterpillars feed on the leaves and flower buds of oak and their latin name is even named after the latin for oak, Quercus.

We also stumbled across this humongous daddy caterpillar! I think it could be an oak eggar moth (although I’m no caterpillar expert so please let me know in the comments if you know what it is).

A harvestman appeared on my arm and managed to stay still just long enough for me to get this photo. These spider-like invertebrates can be distinguished from spiders by their long round body with no distinct ‘waist’. They catch smaller invertebrate prey with the hooks on the end of their legs and have fang-like mouthparts – which you can see clearly here – to munch them with.

And finally the best sort of treasure – the shiny kind! The bronze shieldbug is widespread but not particularly common and catches the eye with its shimmering scutellum (the triangular section on its back). They definitely deserve to be admired!

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