Last May we found the wings of an emperor moth under a bat roost in one of our out buildings. Just the wings remained, untouched and in perfect condition. The bat, possibly a brown long-eared bat from the number of moth wings under the roost, must have had quite a feast on the large female emperor moth.
Female emperor moths are easily distinguished from the males by the colour of the hind wings, the female having grey ones and the male bright orange ones. The females fly at night, making them juicy targets for bats, whilst the males fly in the daytime seeking out the females from the pheromones produced from a gland at the base of the thorax; the pheromones can be detected from over a mile away.
Last Sunday, on a fine Spring day we were exploring the seashore and dunes at Camusdarach beach near to Arisaig when we chanced upon a mating pair of emperors. An amazing sight in the short grass at the edge of some gorse bushes. The male and females are both large moths, and the male did indeed have beautiful orange hind wings which were revealed just before it flew off after posing for a couple of photographs. How nice to eventually see living speciemns of these beautiful moths.
Camusdarach is one of our favourite days out from Mingarry Lodges, often combined with fish and chips (and a little shopping) at Mallaig... There is always something wonderful to see, especially at low tide, at any time of the year. The sand masons always amaze us with the beauty of the sand and shell fragments affixed to their tubes protruding above the sand. We found some live sea urchins last week too, though were a little surprised when our instagram photo was shared by a Japanese food restaurant - not quite the wildlife minded audience we had in mind...
Low tide is also a good time to spot divers off the coast. Black throated, great northern and red throated divers can all be seen at Camusdarach, though not necessarily at the same time. The great northern divers we saw were still not in full breeding plumage, but nevertheless were still pretty impressive. The red breasted mergansers were showing well and cormorants were starting to build nests on the islands just off shore.
All together, a great afternoon out... just one of the many great things to do from Mingarry Lodges.