As the sun began to set over the Scottish Dolphin Centre, an intrepid group of visitors joined us for our Twilight Walk at Spey Bay. The aim: to find and learn about some of the more mysterious creatures of the night! So I should probably start with a quick introduction as despite being here 3 months, this is my first blog! My name is Charlotte and I am the summer Events and Guide Volunteer at SDC. While I love regularly being treated to dolphins, ospreys and seals, ask any of the other volunteers and they’ll tell you how much I love moths. Therefore it was only natural I was eagerly anticipating our annual Twilight Walk.
Having given a quick lesson in how to trap moths, and the different species of bat found in the Moray area we ploughed our way through a thick cloud of midges to begin our walk. As we headed along the banks of the river we saw goosander, gulls and heard the unmistakable calls of curlews overhead, all lit by a rather big and beautiful moon. The real excitement came as we were walking along the edge of the woods. We tried playback of a tawny owl recording to see if any would respond but sadly had no reply. Having read that 90% of male tawny owls are fooled by a good impression I decided to have a go myself, so the call would be louder (with a bit of arm twisting from Caro); And it worked! At first an owl answered us from a long way away so we tried again when we were a bit closer to the centre. Not only did the first owl respond, but a second joined in from right behind us.
We then headed back in search of bats. After a brief stop to admire some rabbits we found what we were seeking. Using a bat detector we were able to hear the bats echolocating as they flew around our heads catching all the insects. After listening to some bat sounds earlier, we were able to deduce that the ‘wet slappy’ noise at 55Hz belonged to a pair of soprano pipistrelles. Then it was time for my favourite part of the evening, moths!
The sheet we set up with a light on it sadly failed to attract any moths (most likely due to the big, bright moon – not the best night for moth trapping). But in true Blue Peter style I produced a selection of moths I’d caught earlier. Under torch light our guests then set about identifying what moths I had provided using their ID guides. We all had a good laugh as well when one flew straight off his eggbox and landed on my face. Then all that was left was to release our mothy friends and return home. I think it was very successful night indeed, and would love to take this opportunity to thank everyone who came.
Thanks for reading, Charlotte Wells (Event and guide volunteer)