May 20, 2013
On Sunday I became a grandfather again, with very limited effort on my part. In fact I was in the middle of Skye walking from Glenmore to Crossal through three tetrads with zero records. Amusingly, while I was away I was sent a chart for the whole of Scotland illustrating tetrad numbers by colour codes – the darker the more records. The three tetrads I was walking through are shown as a white vertical strip:
A look at the map had suggested that Lon na Steill near Glenmore was likely to be the most interesting and so it proved. I contemplated this water bubbling out of the ground as a drinking fountain but with sheep around I decided against it:The gorge of the burn had Saxifraga hypnoides (Mossy Saxifrage) which is new to the 10 km square and a red moss that Nick Hodgetts says is probably Bryum weigelii:
Bryum weigelii (?)
Up above, Stroc-bheinn was uninteresting but had good views:
Most of the rest of the journey was through fairly dull with lots of burned moor and other Molinia-dominated areas. However, I found a new site for Equisetum pratense (Shady Horsetail) – a plant new to the 10 km square, Neottia cordata (Lesser Twayblade) and quite a lot of Vaccinium vitis-idaea (Cowberry).
Loch Dearg was not looking particularly red (dearg) but made a good view with snow on the Cuillin Hills behind:
and I am wondering what inhabits this hole:
The small yellow item by the hole is my GPS device.
May 20, 2013
We have two horsetails that have separate fertile cone-bearing shoots that are brownish and unbranched. Equisetum telmateia (Great Horsetail) was looking like this on Friday:
The fertile shoots are also present now:
Equisetum arvense (Field Horsetail) looks like this:
May 20, 2013
Young ferns can be very difficult to determine but even early in the year, some are easy such as Dryopteris affinis (Scaly Male-fern):
Dryopteris affinis agg.
and Oreopteris limbosperma (Lemon-scented Fern) with its long white hairs:
May 20, 2013
Back in 1976 my predecessor as Vice-county Recorder visited the Kearra Burn south of Talisker, west of Eynort, and found a gorge with a rich flora including Cochlearia officinalis (Scurvygrass), Hymenophyllum wilsonii (Wilson’s Filmy-fern), Orchis mascula (Early-purple Orchid), Polystichum aculeatum (Hard Shield-fern), Saxifraga hypnoides (Mossy Saxifrage), Saxifraga stellaris (Starry Saxifrage), Sedum rosea (Roseroot), Selaginella selaginoides (Lesser Clubmoss), Silene dioica (Red Campion) and Trollius europaeus (Globeflower). All of these were still there on Saturday plus Botrychium lunaria (Moonwort):
Botrychium at Kearra Burn
There was an unusually orange Tussilago farfara (Colt’s-foot):
The gorge of the Kearra Burn looks like this:
and it afforded some shelter from the fierce and for the time of year cold wind which whipped up this loch, too small to merit a name on the OS 1:25,000 map:
Although winter is well and truly over at sea level, at any height, and I am talking below 400m, the moor is only slowly coming to life:
Having said that, I took the above photo to illustrate the still-brown moors I then looked at my feet to find young leaves of Thalictrum alpinum (Alpine Meadow-rue) all around me.
May 20, 2013
There are bits of Portree that the casual visitor can easily miss:
River Chracaig, Portree
Here there are large clumps of Carex sylvatica (Wood-sedge) now in flower:
Scorrybreac had lots of Spring flowers showing and many Peacock Butterflies in courting rituals. On “The Lump” there was lots of Betonica officinalis (Betony). This plant is known from Portree since 1938; other sites have not been re-found.
Near Loch Portree there was a large patch of Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. argentatum (Garden Yellow-archangel), only the third time this has been recorded in VC104, and up near the fire station there was lots of Barbarea intermedia (Medium-flowered Winter-cress, an uncommon weed locally.
May 15, 2013
This beetle from Collie Gairellach last week is probably Anoplotrupes stercorosus a close relative of the Dor Beetle but I await final confirmation from Richard Moore:
My moth trap last week collected Early Grey, Common Quaker, Hebrew Character and Clouded Drab – several of each.
Linda Henderson has started recording plants for me in the Ullinish area and has sent her lists for March/April. I look forward to further interesting records during the main season.
Nick Hodgetts has sent new tetrad records of Alchemilla alpina (Alpine Lady’s-mantle) and Hymenophyllum wilsonii (Wilson’s Filmy-fern) from Lon Chaorach (Glen Varragill).
May 12, 2013
Yesterday was a bit damp but the forecast for the following few days was a great deal worse – and today has confirmed that forecast so far. So, less prepared than usual in terms of having checked known records in advance, I headed for a few hours in coastal areas of Sleat.
Aird Ghunail is near Camus Croise and has an old record of Ophioglossum vulgatum (Adder’s-tongue) on the south side. I failed to find it but the hazel woods at the base of south-facing cliffs are well ahead of many areas in terms of plants being in flower:
In the salt marsh there was Salicornia (Glasswort), Carex extensa (Long-bracted Sedge) and on the shore Carex nigra (Common Sedge) in flower:
whilst a rocky outcrop had several plants of Ligusticum scoticum (Scots Lovage).
I then headed farther down the Sleat peninsula to Knock hoping to spot Orchis mascula (Early-purple Orchid) reported from that area in 1970. Again I failed but there was plenty of suitable looking sea cliff, a common habitat for the orchid locally, and I didn’t have time to look at very much of it. Knock Castle had Geranium molle (Dove’s-foot Crane’s-bill) and Erophila glabrecens (Glabrous Whitlowgrass). Castles and Duns seem to be the favoured habitat for the crane’s-bill on Skye.
Knock Castle – with ivy
I hadn’t registered in advance that I was in an area where Glechoma hederacea (Ground-ivy) had been recorded – again in 1970. That was from the roadside but yesterday I spotted it under gorse on the shore.
This is the only place on Skye where Tolmiea menziesii (Pick-a-back-plant) has been recorded and it is still on the burn where I first spotted it in 2007, but also by a farm building some distance away. Other aliens noted included Persicaria bistorta (Common Bistort) which appears to be increasing on road- and track-sides, Spiraea x pseudosalicifolia (Confused Bridewort) and Fallopia japonica (Japanese Knotweed)
May 9, 2013
Morag reports Ophioglossum vulgatum (Adder’s-tongue) from near Portree – a site where it has been know for some years but feared lost after bracken spraying.
Ophioglossum vulgatum Photo M. Henriksen
This species appears to be much rarer on Skye than on Raasay or Eigg – see map - but maybe it is overlooked. It is always associated with bracken in this part of the world.
May 8, 2013
Nick Hodgetts took a select group of members of SWT Skye Members’ Centre on a foray through Collie Gairellach on the Suardal limestone on Skye today. We saw many fine limestone and oceanic species. I particularly liked Orthothecium rufescens for its red colour:
On the vascular plant front I added three species to the tetrad list including Hymenophyllum wilsonii (Wilson’s Filmy-fern):
and rather surprisingly Ficaria verna subsp. fertilis (Lesser Celandine).
May 7, 2013
Prunus spinosa (Blackthorn or Sloe) is not common on Skye or Raasay and Steve Terry reports it in flower a few days ago at a new site at Camas Malag:
Prunus spinosa Photo S. Terry
It is also flowering on Raasay where it appears to be a long-since planted hedge.