26 Jul 2018

26 Jul 18 - UK Sundews

After seeing the Sooty Tern, I decided to head West to the Loch Garton area to look for some of the speciality Scottish Dragonflies: Azure Hawker (slim chance), Northern Emerald & Northern Damselfly. All of these would typically be still flying in the second half of July, although it was close to the end of their flying seasons. There were several sites in the Loch Garton area. By the time I arrived, it was early evening & had cooling down quite a bit. However, at least there was no sign of the cold Easterly breeze from the Ythan estuary. There were quite a few Emerald Damselflies going to roost in the long grass & sedges around the pools & a single Common Hawker, which was far too active.
Common Hawker: I was pleased to see this individual at Loch Garton, as I had been unsuccessfully looking for Common Hawkers on my Studland patch in the previous week (where they are a scarce species) (25 Jul 18)
Emerald Damselfly: Female. There are no identification problems here as the other Emerald Damselfly species that occur in the South East of England haven't made it as far as Scotland (yet). Boat of Garton (25 Jul 18)
The plan for the second day in Scotland had been to try getting out on a rib from Gairloch to look for Minke Whales, Short-beaked Common Dolphins & Harbour Porpoise. All three species were being seen regularly on the trips from Gairloch. Given it was a last minute trip to Scotland, I didn't have a booking, but thought I would try my luck by turning up first thing at Gairloch harbour. Not having a booking wasn't a problem, as due to the expectation of strong winds, all the rib trips for the day had been cancelled. Not deterred, I headed to the nearby coastline to the North of Gairloch where I could scan over the sea looking towards the Northern end of Skye & the distance island of Harris & Lewis. A good scan failed to produce any Cetaceans during the morning, but it was a great view. I will be back on a future Scottish trip.
The view looking towards Skye (to the left) and distantly Harris & Lewis (to the right of the photo)
Gairloch is well placed for another of the good Scottish Dragonfly sites I wanted to visit. This was the Bridge of Grudie on Loch Maree which lies alongside the road to Gairloch. Again, the Dragonflies were disappointing with a reasonable number of Emerald Damselflies & a lone patrolling Common Hawker. It certainly seemed that the good summer has meant that the Scottish Summer speciality Dragonflies had gone over early. 
Loch Maree: Looking over to Slioch (3218 ft) which is one of the 282 Monros in the UK
The Sphagnum bog at Bridge of Grudie on the South East side of Loch Maree
I was pleased to see there were some Sundews in the bogs at the Bridge of Grudie on the South Eastern side of Loch Maree. I've never been that interested in Flowers, except for Orchids. However, I am more interested in Sundews given they are carnivorous plants. These Sundews had long, thin leaves, instead of the small round leaves of Round-leaved Sundews. Checking the photos has confirmed that these were Great Sundews.
Great Sundew: I will have to look harder locally as they also occur in the Dorset & New Forest bogs. They also occur on some of the East Anglian heaths, West Wales, the Northern Welsh borders & West Scotland
I am used to seeing Round-leaved Sundews around my local heathland bogs.
Round-leaved Sundew: This is a common species in the Dorset & New Forest bogs like these at Latchmore Brook in the New Forest (23 Jun 14)
Round-leaved Sundew: They are also commonly found in Wales, the Lakes, the East Anglian coastal heaths & Scotland. These were photographed in Dorset (4 Aug 14)
Round-leaved Sundew: Showing how the sticky droplets trap insects like this unfortunate Large Red Damselfly which are ultimately digested. Foulshaw Mere (5 Jun 18)
Finally, it was time to head home to Dorset. It was clear that I wasn't going to make it home in one journey without driving through the night, so I planned to find somewhere to kip en route. In the end the decision of where to stop was taken for me, as the M6 was closed in the Blackpool area & the warning signs as I headed South changed from a 2 hour to a 3 hour delay. Clearly, this looked like a major accident in the area. So, I decided to pull off the M6 as I passed the Lake District & head for Ullswater. There were a number of laybys next to the lake which looked quiet enough to get some sleep. It proved not only a good night's sleep, but an incredibly pretty view in the morning.
The view of Ullswater from the hotel window: I will have to explore this area on a future trip
The hotel was in need of a clean: Old school twitching hotel
It clearly was a good idea to abandon the overnight drive home at Ullswater as the following morning, the M6 was still closed around Blackpool & there would have been very long delays in the area. I was well placed to pop over the Northern Pennines to Scotch Corner & drive home down the A1/M1 route.