Celebrating success at Argyll’s National Nature Reserves

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Argyll’s National Nature Reserves (NNRs) celebrated some great success stories in 2021, including sightings of the rare marsh fritillary butterfly at Glasdrum NNR.

Two sightings of the endangered butterfly were made at the reserve in June by local ecologist and Glasdrum butterfly transect volunteer Jessie Wormell.

The butterfly was first recorded at Glasdrum, on the shores of Loch Creran, in 1974 by Jessie’s father Peter Wormell, an important figure in the NNR’s designation.

The species has been recorded five times since on the reserve, the last sighting being made by Andrew Masterman in 2016.

NatureScot Reserve Manager Heather Watkin said: ‘This sighting was a definite highlight for us at Glasdrum this year, especially as it has been such a poor season for butterflies across Argyll.

‘Marsh fritillary relies on an abundance of its foodplant, devil’s-bit scabious, which has done well towards the east of the reserve this year.

‘It is interesting to note that this is the same section where marsh fritillary has been recorded in the past.

‘There are other known populations surrounding the reserve so hopefully with an increase in devil’s-bit scabious we will continue to see this beautiful butterfly on the reserve in years to come.

‘The reserve is a real hot-spot for butterflies – it also hosts the rare pearl-bordered fritillary and is one of the last remaining strongholds for chequered skipper butterflies in the UK.’

Elsewhere at Moine Mhor NNR, drone imagery has revealed some impressive results from peatland restoration works aimed at rewetting as much of the bog as possible.

Drone image of peatland restoration at Moine Mhor NNR. © Stuart Shaw/NatureScot

Restoring peatlands is one of the most effective ways of locking in carbon; offering a clear nature-based solution to both the climate crisis and biodiversity loss.

The 2020 work on the North Moss trialled new techniques such as peat bunding, and the new footage shows that one year on there has been significant re-wetting of the bog.

This year also saw the restoration of the Giants in the Woods at Moine Mhor NNR with help from Kilmartin Primary school pupils and local artist Jane Walker.

These three fantastic sculptured heads made from willow weaving and foraged materials from the reserve are much-loved by pupils visiting the outdoor classroom.

Meanwhile Taynish NNR was also busy connecting people to nature through art with the return of the reserve’s popular Art Trail after an absence due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Giants in the Woods at Moine Mhor NNR © Heather Watkin/NatureScot

The outdoor exhibition featured seven Argyll artists and included life-like herons, carved stone otters, poems and ‘goddess’ sculptures, and the reserve is looking forward to the trail returning for a seventh year in May 2022.

NatureScot chief executive Francesca Osowska said: ‘This year has been another challenging one for many.

‘Throughout the ongoing pandemic our beautiful reserves have helped people to enjoy spending time out of doors and connect with nature, and we want to thank everyone who helped us to safeguard these special places for future generations by treading lightly on their visit.

‘Despite the season there’s still much to see so we’d encourage people to get out and enjoy their local national nature reserves over the holiday season and beyond.’