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House-fly   Saxon Wasp  Pine Harvestman  Bumblebee course   TRY!  Tree Bumblebee  Jellyfish 
Ranavirus   Adder slough   Cuttlebones  Feb. Red Stonefly   VC105-106 fungi

Records wanted!

Three national organisations are targeting species of interest this year.  They are:

Butterfly Conservation, looking for Orange-tip;
British Dragonfly Society, looking for the White-faced Darter;
Bumblebee Conservation Trust, looking for the Blaeberry Bumblebee.

If you take part in their schemes, please copy any records to HBRG.

Musca domestica

Photo © Eddie Dunbar.

Find a House-fly.

Contrary to popular belief, the House-fly is actually very scarce in Scotland, and we would like to know more about its distribution.  Read more about this insect and how to recognise it, and let us know if you are lucky enough to have it in your kitchen.  Back to the top.

A new wasp to look for ...

Mike Taylor recently found the most northerly example of the Saxon Wasp
Dolichovespula saxonica near Forres. This species was only recorded in Britain in 1987, and spread steadily northwards to at least Aviemore by 2016.  It is sure to have been seriously overlooked.  Steven Falk's excellent Flickr page has more images and information.
Update, 10 August.  A worker was found near Evanton, NH66, at the most northerly location so far.]

We are in a good position to monitor its further spread.  To help this, you could collect any dead wasps from your house or garden, and submit them to HBRG at the end of the summer, with location and grid reference.  Just make sure they are air-dried to avoid mould, and wrap them loosely in tissue.  All specimens from one location can be combined.  Records from anywhere, but especially from N and W of the green line on the current map opposite, are welcome.

Social wasps are not easy to separate, and the Saxon Wasp can easily be confused with the common Norwegian Wasp, but all wasp records will be useful.  There is more information on all our species on the Focus on Highland Wildlife pageBack to the top.

Saxon Wasp

Photo © Discilla.

Platybunus pinetorum

Photos © Mike Taylor.

... and a new harvestman.

On the same trip, Mike also found the most northerly 
Platybunus pinetorum, a harvestman, at Culbin.  This has only been known in Britain since 2010, and in Scotland, until now, only from S of the Forth.  It appears to favour pine forest, and may be moved on timber trucks, and if so could be found anywhere.

Identification is not easy, but if you find a dark-coloured harvestman in pines, take a picture for confirmation.  The long pale spines on the pedipalps make a good pointer.  More information is on the Spider Recording Scheme site, and if you want to become more familiar with our species, the field Studies Council has a splendid online key.

Back to the top.

Bumblebee course.

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust are visiting the Cairngorms this year.  Join them on 16 June in Boat of Garten for a beginner’s course covering the identification, ecology, lifecycle and conservation of our most common bumblebees.

Details are on the BBCT website.  Direct any enquiries to BBCT, please, not to HBRG.  Back to the top.

Bombus monticola

Photo © S. Rae.

Porcellio spinicornis

Photo © Stephen Moran.

TRY! - The Recorder's Year.

Our TRY! feature, which we have run for several years, has been revised and reintroduced after a few months of absence.

We have selected a range of species which are:
 - confidently identifiable;
 - easily found, in at least parts of Highland;
 - under-recorded, so that new information is obtained.

Get full details on the TRY! page.

Back to the top.

Be alert for the Tree Bumblebee.

A number of bumblebee species are already on the wing, but there is one of special importance, the Tree Bumblebee
Bombus hypnorum.  This arrived in S England in 2001, and has rapidly spread north to be well established in much of S and Central Scotland.  It seems to be moving slowly closer to our area, with a report of breeding in Aberlour, just to the east, in 2017.  It our only bumblebee with a clear 3-colour pattern of rich brown / black / snow-white, and if seen well is unmistakeable.  Confusion is possible with the common hoverfly Eristalis intricaria, but that is usually smaller and has very short antennae, while all bees have long angled antennae.  If in doubt, take a picture.  Information is on the BWARS website, where there are also images.  Please report any sightings to them and to HBRG.

Back to the top.

Bombus hypnorum map

Map from BWARS.

Compass Jellyfish

Photo © Jane Bowman.

Jellyfish survey.

David McAllister would like to improve our knowledge of jellyfish around our coasts, and asks people who habitually visit stretches of beach to record any beached jellyfish they find.  A recording form is here (.docx file, save to your hard disc).

Information on our Highland species is on our Focus on Highland Wildlife feature.

Back to the top.


A Common Frog showing the symptoms of Ranavirus has been found at Blackmuir, near Strathpeffer.  Ranavirus leads to extremely high mortality rates in frogs.

The signs of Ranavirus include:
- lethargy;
- lesions or redness on belly and legs;
- bleeding from mouth or vent;
- skin ulcers;
- emaciation (can be normal in spring);
- eye problems;
- loss of limb function;
- possibly loss of digits.

In Britain the main means of spread appears to be humans, through releasing fish, particularly goldfish, or through contaminated boots or nets.

Implement biosecurity to avoid spreading the disease:

- discourage people from releasing fish into the countryside
- clean your kit and boots between visiting different sites using a solution of household bleach or Virkon.

More details can be found here.

If you find a frog, live or dead, with symptoms
- avoid handling the animal;
- take a photograph;
- report it to for further advice.

Back to the top.


Photos © Jeanette Hall.

Adder slough

Photo © Roger Cottis.

Request for sloughed skins of Adders.

The Adder has the widest range of any snake, from Sakhalin in the east to Skye in the west.

As the global western limit, the Highlands are of great interest genetically.

The University of Dresden are looking for Adder sloughs from across the region for a study.

They have samples from Garve area thanks to Sue Tarr, but any others would be welcome.

If you find any sloughs, please keep them intact and dry, and email to arrange delivery.

Back to the top.

Cuttlebone wreck.

Stan Holroyd recently found a large number of cuttlebones (the internal shells of cuttlefish, probably
Sepia officinalis) wrecked on the beach at Brora.  If you have seen this elsewhere in Highland during March, please contact to arrange delivery.

Back to the top.

Sepia wreck Sepia wreck

Photos © Stan Holroyd.

Brachyptera putata

Photo © Gus Jones.
The Northern February Red Stonefly.

Take part in the Buglife survey for
Brachyptera putata, a Scottish speciality.  Details are here.

Some of our members looked for it last year with considerable success. The technique involves looking for the insects on fenceposts by a river, and taking a picture for confirmation.  Stewart Taylor found it on the Spey in January, and Nigel Richards had one near Croick in a new hectad in March.

Please remember to report any finds to HBRG as well as to Buglife.

Back to the top.

Ross-shire Fungus Survey

Bruce Ing is coming to the end of a marathon study, documenting the fungi and slime-moulds that occur in Vice-counties 105 and 106 (West Ross and East Ross).  Fieldwork will end in 2018, so we have several months to find some more species for the lists.  Bruce's progress report is here (.pdf file), and you will see that the hardest challenge will be to get into the small part of NH12 that lies in Ross.  Elsewhere, there is plenty opportunity to make new finds - potentially even in your garden.  These little black spots on leaves, or the hoary mist of mildew, might be far more interesting than you imagine.  In the last year, over 100 species were added to each VC list.  Let's see if we can add another 100 to each in 2018!

Back to the top.

Amanita muscaria

Photo © Michael Maggs, 

House-fly   Saxon Wasp  Pine Harvestman  Bumblebee course   TRY!  Tree Bumblebee  Jellyfish 
Ranavirus   Adder slough   Cuttlebones  Feb. Red Stonefly   VC105-106 fungi
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