A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

Monday, 20 June 2016

Checkmate - Chequered Skippers at Glasdrum Wood, Fort William

Chequered Skipper was a species of butterfly I was still yet to see in Britain, and being up in Fort William during the height of their flight season thanks to the Black-billed Cuckoo twitch provided the perfect opportunity to catch up with this charismatic species. 
Chequered Skipper - Glasdrum Wood
Chequered Skipper - Glasdrum Wood
After a delicious cooked breakfast at the B&B (overlooking the beautiful scenery of Loch Linnhe) we made the 40 minute journey along the twisting loch-side roads to Glasdrum Wood NNR, a well-known hotspot for Chequered Skippers and one of the most popular sites in Britain for this species. 
Loch Linnhe - Fort William
Confined to just the North West of Scotland and with a distribution centred largely around Fort William, Chequered Skippers are a true Scottish speciality, and I was especially looking forward to catching up with them having not had time to stop when we visited Mull two years ago when they were on the wing. With glorious sunshine and perfect blue skies the conditions weather-wise were perfect, and after parking up in the car park we were soon making our way up the grassy slope in pursuit of this Highland gem.

Before long we had successfully located several individuals, buzzing through the grass and often landing on any exposed branches or leaves in front of us. Rather frustratingly (perhaps due to the hot midday sun) the skippers rarely opened their wings when they landed, instead choosing to perch with them shut tight and displaying only the underside patterns. 
Chequered Skipper - Glasdrum Wood
Chequered Skipper - Glasdrum Wood
Chequered Skipper - Glasdrum Wood
Eventually though we managed to find some obliging individuals with their wings flat out, allowing us to get some photos of their distinctive gold and brown checked wings.
Chequered Skipper - Glasdrum Wood
Chequered Skipper - Glasdrum Wood
Chequered Skipper - Glasdrum Wood
Chequered Skipper - Glasdrum Wood
Chequered Skipper - Glasdrum Wood
With at least two calling cuckoos and a range of other butterfly delights including several Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries (which sadly never landed for me to get any photos) and a lone Green Hairstreak, Glasdrum Wood was a fantastic reserve to visit in a truly beautiful setting. The only possible downside was the sudden discovery of a large number of ticks hitching a lift on our shirts and socks – resulting in a swift exit from the site and a thorough checking over and change of clothes before leaving! 

With such a limited distribution, conservation efforts are underway to secure the long-term future of this species and to hopefully expand its at present rather restricted range. Once also occurring in central England, Chequered Skippers were sadly declared extinct there in the 70’s, rendering this species as a true Highland speciality. 
Chequered Skipper - Glasdrum Wood

Getting there and seeing the butterflies:

Glasdrum Wood can be found off the small road to Inver after turning east off the A828 roundabout just after the Loch Creran Bridge. The post code to the car park is PA38 4BQ, and the entrance will be on the left hand side.

The Chequered Skippers are easy to locate at Glasdrum in good weather, and are a short 5 minute walk from the car park. Follow the footpath up the hill to the power lines before turning left along the well-trodden track along the slope, following the power lines across. The skippers are all along this track, along with Pearl and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries. We visited at the very end of May/start of June when the skippers were in their prime. Watch out for ticks!! 

For more information, visit the Scotland's NNR Glasdrum Wood website.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...