I wander'd lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils,
Beside the lake, beneath the trees
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretch'd in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay
In such a jocund company!
I gazed - and gazed - but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought.

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills
And dances with the daffodils.

Daffodils by William Wordsworth

Our Expeditions


8th July

Gullane Bents to Aberlady LNR

As the early summer heatwave extended into the second week of July, I must admit that part of my reasoning in deciding to opt for Gullane Bents on Sunday was the indication by the weatherman that it would be cooler in the east with broken spells of sunshine. We had our Dalkeith Morrisons’ breakfasts (disappointing 7.5/10) under grey skies but when we arrived at Gullane the sky was azure blue. We were in for another scorcher.

Gullane Bents were already filling with day trippers complete with chairs, canoes, surfboards and barbies. All this cleared the area of wildlife, but we hoped that we’d find better nature watching conditions if we walked west over the rocky shore towards Aberlady LNR. And so it turned out. Soon an offshore Eider and a wee scurrying male Pied Wagtail raised our spirits. The Wagtail was catching flies as we could see by the contents of its beak. We were cautiously watched by a Carrion Crow as we moved towards Bleaching Rocks. I snapped a 6-spot Burnet Moth as it clung to a Goat’s Beard bud, the first of many Burnets we would see.

Pied Wagtail
Carrion Crow
6 Spot Burnet

We were walking beneath grassy crags beyond which I could see banners set out on the Gullane golf course in preparation for the Scottish Open championship. It is interesting to note that Gullane is so named from the Gaelic for “shoulder”. I noticed that the grassy banks at the foot of the crags were teeming with butterflies. I got some nice shots, first of a Ringlet on Common Ragwort, then of a beautiful male Common Blue. Females are not blue though, but, brown with orange spots at the edges of their wings. We saw many orange and black-striped Cinnabar Moth caterpillars, mainly on Ragwort. I got quite excited to come across a Dark Green Fritillary Butterfly feeding on Knapweed. Although these large, powerful butterflies are predominantly orange with brown /black markings, there is a dark green tinge at the base of the underwing (see “Pictures of the Week”, below) from which it gets its name.

Male Common Blue Butterfly
Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar
Dark Green Fritillary Butterfly

We descended back onto the shore as John had spotted a gathering of birds just off Gullane Point. Prominent amongst these was a juvenile Cormorant standing over a large group of eclipse Eiders. As we rounded the Hummell Rocks I noticed an umbilifer with quite unusual leaves. It was Scot’s Lovage, an edible plant, with the flavour of celery. In the UK it is only found on coasts, although, since it cannot tolerate grazing, it is seldom found where sheep and birds are seen. I took a photo of a pretty little Silverweed growing neatly on the pebbles of the foreshore. I also recorded a large plant of Sea Plantain that had established itself on a raised boulder.

Cormorant Juvenile
Scot's Lovage
Sea Plantain

When photographing plants, to ease identification, I like to get shots from long and medium distances followed by close-ups of flowers, leaves and stem. As I examined the close-up of the Plantain I noticed one showed an infestation by tiny red mites - plant-eating spiders, Tetranychus urticae. John drew my attention to Gullane Bay where kite-boarders were having fun in the sun. We rested a bit on the grassy edges of the Point where I captured images of the Small Heath butterfly and a Plume Moth that I think is the Yellow Plume Moth, Gillmeria pallidactyla.

Spider - Tetranychus Urticae View
Small Heath Butterfly
Yellow Plume Moth

I also watched an industrious White-tailed Bumblebee pick its way through the small flowers of Wild Thyme. A Small Skipper butterfly, aptly-named, as its wingspan is only 30mm, landed on Coltsfoot and hung around long enough for me to get some great shots. The grass at the Point was not all that tall, so there were other flowers growing there, such as the Wild Strawberry. Once we had noticed them (they were about half the size of cultivated strawberries) we realised that there were rather a lot of them hiding beneath the grass. On our return journey we took a different route after we passed the Hummell Rocks. We found a footpath that ran the length of the crags from the beach up to the car park. I found a trio of insect species busy on a Creeping Thistle. There was a Digger Wasp, Ectemnius cephalotes and a 6-spot Burnet Moth, each feeding, and a pair of copulating Red Soldier Beetles.

White-tailed Bumble Bee
Small Skipper Butterfly
Wild Strawberry
Digger Wasp-Ectemnius Cephalotes

We passed a couple of Lesser Burdock plants that were just ready to flower. Folk medicines prepared from the plant include treatments for snakebites, rabid dogs, burns, sores ulcers, sciatica and many more. I was surprised to find an Apple Tree perched precariously on the cliff side, although it would be a brave person who would try to pick them. John pointed out a red-eyed, grey-striped parisitoid fly called Nemorilla Floralis. (The final adjective refers to its habit of it laying its eggs inside certain butterflies and moths, where the fly larvae then develop).Our final shot was of a Brown-lipped Snail in what could be a “estivation” - when the atmosphere is dry it retracts into its shell and becomes inactive until the moisture in the atmosphere increases.

Lesser Burdock
Apple Tree
Fly - Nemorilla Floralis Brown Lipped Snail

By the time we reached the car we were both fairly tired, (  I was completely and utterly......tired. ED.)  due to the rock scrambling required throughout the trip and our final trek up the hill. Time then for Almond and Custard Danish Pastries, washed down with cups of strong tea - all in the shade of the hatchback door.

Pictures of the Week:

Ringlet Butterfly
 Common Blue Butterfly

Small Skipper Butterfly
Dark Green Fritillary Butterfly

July 1st

Troon Harbour
and Gailes Marsh

For the second week running we found ourselves enjoying the fine breakfasts of the Kilmarnock Asda Cafe (9.75/10 - 2 week average). Like the previous week, the weather was warm and sunny. We were heading for SWT Gailes Marsh to check out the flowers and insects. First though, while the tide was favourable, we started at Troon Harbour.

As we got out the car, a juvenile Pied Wagtail (although it may be a juvenile White Wagtail) was foraging around the car park. We decided to walk North along the shore towards some Eider we spotted. A big clump of what looked like Cranesbill decorated the approach to the shore. There was lots of Sea Mayweed and Sandwort. The daisy-like Mayweed carries a slight scent similar to Chamomile The only bird we could see on the rocks was a lone Herring Gull, which disappointed us as we had expected a few waders.

Juvenile Pied Wagtail
Sea Mayweed
Herring Gull

Then as I took in the beautiful vista before us, of yachts sailing on azure sea with the Isle of Arran in the distance, some movement on the rocky shore in front of me caught my eye. It was a pair of Ringed Plovers scurrying across the shore seeking out flies, spiders, marine worms, small crustaceans and molluscs. Then, as as couple of vessels entered the Harbour, I spotted a Black Guillemot skimming the water before coming to rest on a ledge of the Harbour wall. These birds are in the Auk family (which includes the Puffin). Those in the UK are Cepphus grylle arcticus, one of 5 subspecies found world-wide. After a time it flew off into the harbour.

Golden Plover

After that we had a fairly close fly-past of a Gannet, probably it was on a day trip from Ailsa Craig. John pointed out a pair of Shags sitting at the end of the same ledge of the wall that the Black Guillemot was on. A lonely Oystercatcher landed by some seaweed before I managed to spook it in my clumsy attempts to get a closer picture. As we returned to the car park I snapped a shot of Sea Rocket. This plant is a member of the Mustard family.

Sea Rocket

We next explored the south side of the shore. My eye followed an adult Starling picking its way across the rocky shore. Its plumage was very iridescent, in the strong sunlight. We startled a small group of Linnets we hadn’t noticed as they fed amid patches of long grass on the rocks. John drew my attention to a dead Jellyfish that had probably been stranded in a temporary rock pool. On our way back to the car I photographed a Small White butterfly as it rested on grass by the path. It is also called the Small Cabbage White, distinguishable from the Large White by its small spots and black tips to its forewings.

Small White Butterfly

It was a short drive North up the coast to Gailes Marsh, a Scottish Wildlife Trust Reserve south of Irvine. At the very start of the walk we found the first of many Common Ragwort plants that were festooned with orange and black banded Cinnabar Moth caterpillars. I liked the look of a Wild Rose further along the path and, as I photographed it, a 6-Spot Burnet moth whizzed past my head and descended onto a Meadow Vetchling flower. So I photographed it too. We were watching out for dragonflies so we sat close to the Marsh and waited for them. I soon came across a few plants of Lesser Spearwort, a member of the family of Buttercups.

Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar
Wild Rose
6 Spot Burnet Moth
Lesser Spearwort

On our walk to the marsh we had noticed the many Common Blue butterflies darting about. They didn’t land too often, and when they did they didn’t stop long enough for me to snap them. At the marsh we decided to wait for them coming to us - well, to the Birdsfoot Trefoil we had sat beside. It paid off as before too long I got a passable shot. A wee Goldfinch juvenile sat nervously in a nearby bush before its nerves got the better of at and it flew off. We came upon a sand bank where we watched the comings and goings of Sand Martins feeding their nestlings.

Common Blue Butterfly
Juvenile Goldfinch

As time was getting on, and although we had seen no dragonflies, we pressed on around the path that would lead us back to the car. John pointed out a Small Heath butterfly on some Gorse (see “Pictures of the Week”, below). Immediately after this I located a male Emerald Damselfly (also below) clinging to a reed. The final leg of our route took us past a open area of tall grasses bordered by elegant Common Valerian plants and lower, but lovely patches of Tormentil with their tiny yellow flowers. Thirty metres from the car I found two members of the same species, Common and Greater Bird’s-foot Trefoil. They differ as you might expect - the Greater is taller and has bigger leaves.

Common Valerian
Common Birds-foot Trefoil
Greater Birds-foot Trefoil

Yet another very enjoyable outing to two very different locations, each of them yielding some interesting sightings. The accompaniment to our tea this week were jam and cream-filled muffins, a very satisfactory end to the day.

Pictures of the Week:

6 Spot Burnet Moth

Small Heath Butterfly
Emerald Damselfly

Back To Top

August 2018
July 2018
8th Gullane Bents, Aberlady
1st Troon Gailes Marsh
June 2018
24th Doonfoot
17th Barns Ness
9th Baron's Haugh
3rd Saltcoats, Stevenston, Irvine

May 2018
27th Ardmore Point

20th Aberlady
13th Stevenston/Saltcoats/Troon
6th John Muir Country Park
April 2018
29th Barns Ness
19th Leighton Moss
15th Musselburgh
6th Skateraw/Belhaven Bay
1st Aberlady
March 2018
25th Barns Ness/Dunbar Harbour
18th Stevenston/Saltcoats/Irvine
11th Maidens/Doonfoot
4th Strathclyde Park
February 2018
25th Ardmore Point 
18th Musselburgh
11th Skateraw/Belhaven Bay
4th Pow Burn/Troon Harbour
January 2018
28th Maidens
21st Musselburgh

14th Aberlady
7th Musselburgh
December 2017
31st Belhaven Bay
24th Skateraw
17th Troon/Irvine/Ardeer
10th Stevenston/Saltcoats/Irvine
3rd Doonfoot/Loans
November 2107
26th Musselburgh
19th Barns Ness
12th Stevenston/Saltcoats/Irvine
5th Musselburgh
October 2017
29th Skinflats
22nd White Sands/Barns Ness
15th Skateraw/Belhaven Bay
8th Musselburgh
1st Stevenston/Saltcoats
September 2017
24th Tyninghame Bay
17th Stevenston/Saltcoats/Irvine
10th Barns Ness
3rd Pencaitland/Musselburgh
August 2017
27th Troon/Irvine Harbour
20th Belhaven ....Barns Ness
13th Musselburgh
6th Skateraw
July 2017
30th Musselburgh
23rd Doonfoot
16th Stevenston/Saltcoats/Irvine
2nd Aberlady
June 2017
25th White Sands/ Barns Ness
18th Skateraw/Belhaven Bay
11th Musselburgh/Port Seton
4th Barns Ness/Musselburgh
May 2017
28th Tyninghame Bay
21st Belhaven Bay/Dunbar
14th Barns Ness/Torness
7th Pow Burn
April 2017
30th Doonfoot
23rd Stevenston/Saltcoats
9th Musselburgh
March 2017
26th Maidens/Turnberry
19th Dunbar
12th Musselburgh/Port Seton
5th Hogganfield Loch...Belhaven
February 2017
26th Seafield/Belhaven/Dunbar
19th Skateraw/Belhaven Bay
12th Stevenston/Saltcoats/Irvine
5th Pow Burn
January 2017
29th Haddington/Belhaven Bay
22nd Doonfoot
15th Saltcoats
8th Musselburgh
1st Hogganfield Loch
December 2016
18th Belhaven/......Torness
11th Skateraw/Barns Ness
4th Torness/Belhaven/P.Seton
November 2016
27th Doonfoot
20th Kilbirnie.......Irvine
13th Musselburgh
6th Stevenston
October 2016
30th Gullane/...Musselburgh
23rd Troon
16th Musselburgh/Port Seton
9th Pow Burn
2nd Doonfoot
September 2016
24th Port Seton/Musselburgh
18th Tyninghame Bay
11th Musselburgh
4th Stevenston/Ardeer Quarry
August 2016
21st Dunbar/White Sands
July 2106
31st Skateraw
24th Aberlady
17th Barns Ness
10th Musselburgh
3rd Musselburgh
June 2016
26th Strumpshaw Fen, Norfolk
19th Musselburgh
5th Kinneil Lagoon
May 2016
29th Belhaven/Barns Ness
22nd Stevenston
15th Doonfoot
8th Musselburgh/Port Seton
1st Lochwinnoch/Muirshiel
April 2016
24th Pow Burn
17th Musselburgh
10th Musselburgh
3rd Musselburgh/Port Seton
March 2016
27th Hedderwick Hill
20th Musselburgh
13th Doonfoot
3rd Ardmore Point
February 2016
28th Pow Burn
21st Musselburgh/Joppa
14th Stevenston/Irvine Harbour
7th Spott,Skateraw,Belhaven
January 2016
31st Musselburgh
24th Yellowcraig
17th Strathclyde Park
10th Skateraw/Torness
3rd Balloch
December 2015
27th Banton/Hogganfield Lochs
20th Figgate Park
13th Musselburgh
6th Torness
November 2015
29th Lochwinnoch/Stevenston
22nd Aberlady
15th Musselburgh
8th Musselburgh
1st Hound Point
October 2015