Staff favourites: eight wild wonders to spot this summer

Discover some of the plants and animals we love to look out for whilst exploring in summer, including some top tips on how to spot them

Sarah lewis aspen detail

1. ASPEN

Sarah Lewis, Conservation Officer, Skye

Wonderful spangly Aspen are found clinging to the coastal edge as you pick your way to Camasunary Bay from Elgol, facing Sgurr na Stri with Sgurr nan Eag in the foreground. One of the charms of these rhizome suckers is the chattering between leaves. With flattened leaf stalks to help survive windy perches, they dance and rattle on the breeze, sending a soothing parley to wandering ears. Be aware - the cliffs are hazardously steep here!

Photo credit: Pete Barron

2. MOUNTAIN RINGLET

Pete Barron, Land Manager, Glenridding Common

Mountain Ringlet, our only true mountain butterfly, is on the wing in July on warm sunny days up to around 800m. It is rare, beautiful, challenging to spot and confined to the Lake District and central Scotland. We sometimes highlight the more obvious species; Mountain Ringlet is discreet but worth the effort to find and enjoy.

Photo credit (Interrupted clubmoss): Isobel Filor

3. CLUBMOSSES

Isobel Filor, Conservation Officer, East Schiehallion

One of my favourite summer nature spottings is the Clubmosses (partly for their name!). They belong to a group of plants which have been around from the Carboniferous period, circa 320 million years ago. On Schiehallion you’re quite likely to see Fir Clubmoss which looks like tiny conifers, or Interrupted Clubmoss which gets its name from each year’s growth forming distinctive or ‘interrupted’ growth patterns.

Photo credit: Don O'Driscoll

4. TROUT

Don O'Driscoll, Property Manager, Sandwood & Quinag

Trout often go unseen, living in some of the most untouched places. On breezy days shake branches overhanging the water - hungry trout may surface to catch falling flies. On calmer days, slowly peer over a bridge or quietly approach a pool. You may see Trout, heads to the current, maintaining their position with slight tail or fin movements. Breac (‘the spotted one’) is Gaelic for Trout; Ruby spots on a golden back fade to a paler belly - excellent camouflage!

Photo credit: Liz Auty

5. COTTON GRASS

Liz Auty, Property Manager, East Schiehallion

Cotton Grass is an absolute delight in summer. You can find it in boggy areas, its cotton wool heads nodding in the breeze. It is actually a member of the sedge family and has been used for everything from stuffing pillows, dressing wounds and as a herbal medicine.

Photo credit: Georg Wietschorke, Pixabay

6. SNOW BUNTING

Alison Austin, Property Manager, Ben Nevis

Snow Buntings are extremely rare but in their striking black and white summer plumage are easily spotted on the summit of Ben Nevis in summer months. Most Snow Buntings return to more northern climes to breed; The few that remain in Scotland are reliant on late lying snowbeds in high mountain areas. Listen out for the high pitched chirrup and look for a small chaffinch sized bird on a rocky high spot.

Photo credit: Isaac Johnston

7. ROSEROOT

Isaac Johnston, Conservation Officer, Glenridding Common

A striking and beautiful plant, Roseroot chooses to grow on hard to reach rocky outcrops and cliffs across the UK and Europe, making it even more rewarding to get up close to. Its characteristic blue-green leaves can be seen from a distance and are perfectly adapted for holding water in times of hardship. The complex yellow flower is a favourite among mountain dwelling insects and can also be identified from a long way off.

Photo credit: Romany Garnett

8. BURNET MOTH

Romany Garnett, Conservation Officer, Quinag

This day-flying six-spot burnet moth flies from June to August and is one of the more widespread moths, but prefers coastal areas in Scotland. It is very attractive - six red spots stand out against an almost metallic black sheen of the wing. It looks like an exotic flying flower! Its bright colours keep it safe from potential predators by indicating that it is poisonous (apparently it contains cyanide!).

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INSTAGRAM PHOTOGRAPHY COMPETITION

Which wild places are you exploring over the summer? Share your photos on Instagram using #JMTSUMMER for your chance to win a year's free membership to the Trust, along with a John Muir Trust goodie bag and the latest Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year book (terms and conditions apply, entries accepted until 24th August 2018).

All photos taken by Trust staff, except Snow Bunting (photo credit: Georg_Wietschorke, pixabay).