Chequered Skipper

/ in Kinlochleven by Marek
Chequered Skipper in the petals of a purple tubular flower
Chequered Skipper playing ‘The Bluebells of Scotland’

Following our successful trip to Lulworth in search of the Lulworth Skipper we decided to organise another trip for the following year in the same vein.

Our quest this time would be the Chequered Skipper which is now restricted to the highlands of Scotland.

After some research we decided to make our base in Kinlochleven which was close to an area where we were most likely to find our quarry.

Discovering that the type of accommodation we were looking for in a good location for setting the trap was difficult to find for just two people so settled for a larger property which meant that our two sons could come along with us.

As with the cliffs at Lulworth it is impossible to plan for everything and I certainly did not consider the possibility of midges.

Not just one midge but thousands and thousands all keen to visit the trap each morning and feast on an unprepared Mother.

During fishing trips in my youth, I have come across these little terrors, but never in these numbers.

They were totally relentless making the potting and photography of the moths from the trap extremely difficult, but I battled on and did manage some good records during the week regardless of the discomfort I suffered.

Cup of coffe with a large number of midges that decided to land in it and drown
A nice cup of midges

As with any short break in the UK, planning days with sunshine is always problematic as our climate is so unpredictable, but according to the weather forecast two days showed some promise and would be our best chance to explore the area I had planned out.

The first of these days we parked up and walked along the road which had a stream to the left and marshland to the right.

As we could see many day-flying insects to our right we carefully negotiated the bog taking pictures of anything and everything until eventually deciding to leave due to hunger and exhaustion in the hope that when we got back to base camp our efforts would prove successful.

We did manage some good records of day flying moths but only one out of focus shot of the skipper but did not know where it was taken.

The following day was also forecasted to be sunny, so we returned to retrace our steps.

It wasn’t long before my youngest son shouted that he had found one, but it refused to settle long enough for him to get a picture and kept flying further and further into the marshy bog with number two son following untroubled as he sank deeper and deeper.

I yelled out to him to be careful but inwardly felt pride that he had taken up the gauntlet in such a heroic fashion.

When he eventually succeeded in taking a rather good shot of a Common Heath moth I noticed that the walking trainers he had on were in fact the new ones I had just bought for going out in the evenings.

When I inquired as to why he was wearing them he replied that his had pinched him on the previous day so decided to borrow mine as he did not want to get a blister and spoil my holiday.

As always, I just smiled and told him not to worry but to make sure he dried his feet properly when he got home.

It was at this juncture that his lateral thinking after discovering that he had chased the wrong insect and annoyed his dad in the process that he would try on the left-hand side of the road next to the stream.

Eureka! the Chequered skippers were not flying around on the marsh at all but nectaring contently on the blue bells growing next to the stream.

The icing on the cake was when we were finishing up and saw what we believed initially to be a bee feeding on flowers next to the road but decided to take shots anyway just in case, later to discover that it was in fact a nationally scarce Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth.

Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth resting on some grass
The be-all and end-all

All in all, a very successful visit to Scotland.