Ariundle Oakwoods is a National Nature Reserve near Strontian. Apart from the moss and lichen covered old oak trees this site is a valuable stronghold of a rare British butterfly. The chequered skipper used to occur in England but became extinct there in the 1970s. Now the entire British population occurs within 30 miles of Fort William. The first butterflies to appear as the sun broke through some cloud were green-veined whites and the, somewhat uncommon, small pearl-bordered fritillary. Then a small speckled cream and brown butterfly sped to a flowering stitchwort flower, the first of only three chequered skippers to put in an appearance; the other two were mating on the top of some bog myrtle.
The lichens and mosses were somewhat shrivelled in the unusually dry conditions that are being experienced in the area and the Strontian River was barely flowing. The moss coated rocks were more of a pale brown green than a verdant carpet and all was rather dulled by the crisped nature of things.
The path climbed out from the woodland to a clearing, a former croft site now encroaching with bracken, bluebells and small trees. Out in the clearing we came upon a black and golden striped hunter. This golden-ringed dragonfly seemed content to remain perched on an old bluebell stem, unmoving it let us past and back down into the woods below.