May 162019

What a beauty! But you can be forgiven for not knowing that this is a moth. A female Belted Beauty – and they are wingless! Recently Sally and I were lucky to be taken out to monitor a colony of this rare moth. Alan, the Butterfly Conservation representative and recorder for Mull and Iona (and some of the other smaller islands off the west coast of Scotland) asked us to help find the Belted Beauty moths. He had not been able to visit this particular colony for several years and he wanted to check how it was getting on.


Sally and I know absolutely nothing about this moth and so when we arrived at the site we asked Alan how we were supposed to find them! Easy said Alan – just look at the fence posts. So we did,  and there we found these 1cm long bundles of hair – the female Belted Beauty. We found 14. It has to be said that Alan and Sally found most of the moths but at least I can confirm that there are a lot of fence posts at this site.


Apparently the males often fly, searching for females, on warm sunny afternoons. But it wasn’t – so we had no luck with them!

But it is good to know that the Belted Beauty is still doing well at this site and that Butterfly Conservation volunteers are working to safeguard moths and butterflies all over the country. Thanks to Alan for the opportunity to see these extraordinary moths.

Mull has several other very rare moths but, of course, many people visit the island to see the eagles. Both golden eagle and white tailed eagle can be seen on Mull and these are looked after by RSPB staff and volunteers – Mull Eagle Watch has been running for many years. Sally and I have been lucky enough to see many goldies and white tailed eagles on Mull. But it is not always easy to tell them apart. So here is a photograph, taken by Sally, of three eagles. I say the eagle on the right is a white-tailed and the other two are goldies. Sally, however, maintains they are all white tailed eagles.

We cannot agree and are still arguing even though we are back home! So for all you experienced (and more recently fledged) eagle experts out there – what do you think? Please help me to prove that Sally is wrong. Post a reply or email our webmaster Alan –


 Posted by on 16 May 2019 at 11:35 pm

  7 Responses to “Belted Beauty and Eagles Mystery Photograph”

Comments (7)
  1. This may help with the domestic…

    BTO Video

    … and sorry Malcolm, I think I agree with Sally!


  2. The photograph seems to show all three birds with the same wedge-shaped tail with a white edge. The whole shape and colour looks like white-tailed to me. However, if the lighting is making the photograph not portray what you saw accurately then I wouldn’t want to say! Kate & Julian what do you think?

  3. Really interesting post Malcolm, especially so as we were lucky enough to come across a male Belted Beauy on a day trip over to Barra in the Outer Hebrides yesterday! It was sitting on the sand just past some dunes on a beach there.
    p.s. Hate to say, but I think Sally might just be right!

  4. I am totally unqualified and inexperienced in these matters but all three appear to me to be the same eagle, which ever that may be. I think that Sally is definitively in the lead at the moment.

  5. Well I don’t think there’s anymore to be said is there? With at least 3 women saying they’re all White-tailed eagles, then they must be….
    Many thanks everyone for helping me be right for once! and well done Sue, finding a Belted Beauty on Barra – (sounds like the title of another post doesn’t it?)

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