Glen Quaich and the caddis fly

Today a group of us went out to Glen Quaich. This is an isolated glen south of Aberfeldy which Brenda and I first visited a few years ago. A single track road winds up the valley from Amulree to Kenmore and we loved the views when we were there. Although it was somewhat cloudy today Glen Quaich didn’t disappoint! There were good numbers of willow warblers and redpoll, and lots of curlews and oystercatchers.

An oystercatcher on lookout

I spent some time trying to photograph a curlew in flight and got some good results.


Toward the north end of the glen we had spectacular views and, whilst watching a common buzzard saw it being mobbed by a male hen harrier! Moth and flower numbers continue to be good, as Brenda will relate…

Perhaps the greatest excitement was regarding a caddis fly which James found on our walk around Loch Freuchie in Glen Quaich. Upon further inspection back out the house it turned out to be an extremely rare insect, only known from two small sites near Aviemore, and so there was some excitement over the internet in the insect watching community at the possibility of another outpost!

Brenda writes: “There was nothing new in my moth trap today. Up by the house on a lawn it was never likely to have the more unusual species but I had another shoulder-striped wainscot and the darkest white ermine yet.

A particularly dark white ermine

In one of James’s traps was a ruby tiger, first of the year for both of us.

ruby tiger

He also had the tiny and very beautiful small fanfoot, brussels lace, and sandy carpet.

We went to Glen Quaich today, a beautiful glen we discovered a few years ago when staying at Aberfeldy. At one end it is a wide glacial valley, farming land, with a small loch. We dropped off a walking party then Steve and I drove on to the other end of the loch and walked the other way. I had a good flower day; two orchids – northern marsh and heath spotted, water forget-me-not and wild pansy.

northern marsh orchid
heath spotted orchid
water forgot-me-knot
wild pansy with sheep dung!

Then we carried on up the glen which climbs up into high moorland. Stopping on the top I had my first experience of James (and Helen) moth hunting in daytime, wandering through the gorse studying the bushes whilst I was nose to the the ground looking at heathland flowers and Steve was scanning the horizon for red grouse. James had success with two moths, the wonderfully named small argent and sable and the northern form of common heath.

small argent and sable
common heath (northern form)

Whilst he was doing this I was reconsidering my identification of cranberry the other day which was incorrect because I failed to note that the northern form of bilberry has pale pink flowers. There is bilberry everywhere here and very good they are to eat. No grouse today.”

New species for June 6th:
Moths: ruby tiger, small fanfoot, Brussels lace, sandy carpet, small argent and sable, common heath
Flowers: northern marsh orchid, heath spotted orchid, water forget-me-not, wild pansy, bilberry