Not Just Litter

April 6th 2013

Not Just Litter

We have all seen discarded bottles and cans lying on grass verges and in ditches along roadsides in Assynt. Apart from being unsightly, they are also a death trap for insects, and small mammals such as shrews. First the insects crawl in, cannot get out, and die; then the smaller mammals are attracted to the rotting remains and they too crawl in and, if the bottle or can is at the wrong angle, they are trapped.

Ian Evans retrieved a Stella Artois bottle from just off the roadside at Bad an Dioboirich, Glenleraig (NC159317) on 16th March 2013 and sieved the contents, see photograph. These turned out to be mainly beetle ‘armour’, some bits of which he could identify, the larger ones being from:

• 3 Carabus glabratus (ground beetle), the biggest in the photo;

Sieved contents of discarded bottle. Click for larger image

• 8 Abax parallelepipedus (ground beetle);

• 18+ Pterostichus niger (ground beetle);

• 2 Thanatophilus rugosus (= the wrinkled death-lover, a carrion beetle);

• 2 Nicrophorus sp. (one of the sexton or burying beetles); and

• a host of so far unidentified smaller ones, mostly ground beetles.

As has been reported in the national news again this year so-called wild fires have caused massive destruction of habitats throughout Scotland, with many being clearly visible in Assynt during the very dry spring.

Most of these fires are started quite deliberately and then get out of hand. However, a few may have been caused by the lazy discard of a still-lit cigarette end or by the focussing of the sun’s rays through a glass bottle.

So to save our stunning flora and fauna from needless damage and death please take your litter home and if you see bottles and cans lying around pick a few up and recycle them.

Report a Sighting

Recent Sightings

Blue Jellyfish

c 10 small jellyfish (c4cm diameter) on beach, Clachtoll (Mhairi Leeson) (21/05)

Arctic Skua

Single bird chasing common terns, Bay of Clachtoll (Mhairi Leeson) (21/05)

Ringed Plover

Single bird on rocks, Bay of Clachtoll (Mhairi Leeson) (21/05)


Three Red-throated Divers and a single Great Northern Diver, all in breeding plumage, Clashnessie Bay (DAH) (21/05)

Arctic Tern

Two birds feeding, Clashnessie Bay (DAH) (21/05)

Canada Goose

Two birds, Loch Neil Bhain and then later Bay of Culkein (DAH). Photo Gallery - Birds (20/05)

Carrion Crow

Single adult bird, Achnacarnin (DAH) (20/05)


c. 170 birds, Bay of Culkein (DAH) (20/05)