One Last Time: The Storr Again

August 27, 2014

Chris and I made a final trek up the Storr yesterday so that I could complete my field work for the SSSI Monitoring and he could see some of our most interesting plants.

My target species were Alchemilla wichurae (Rock Lady’s-mantle), Arabidopsis petraea (Northern Rock-cress), Euphrasia ostenfeldii (An Eyebright) and Juncus biglumis (Two-flowered Rush) and all these were found in previously known sites.  Pleasingly we added to new sites for Juncus biglumis (Two-flowered Rush) not far from the known site near the Storr summit.

Juncus biglumis

Juncus biglumis

A passing benefit was spotting Juncus trifidus (Three-leaved Rush) on the rocks above the path, pretty much right on a 10km square boundary, but in any event the first record for Trotternish for many years.

Fish (Modified Version)

August 27, 2014

I was initially pleased to find minnows in Loch Lonachan as it looked like a new record not only for Skye but for the Inner and Outer Hebrides as well. NBN shows  no Hebridean minnow records and nor does the 1983 “Salmon & Freshwater Fishes of the Inner Hebrides” (Campbell & Williamson, Proc. Roy. Soc. Edin. 83B 245-265).

However, Ellie sent me a link to a report on twelve Skye rivers in 2005 that recorded minnows in several parts of the River Snizort system. What is more the author suggests that these are unlikely to be native, having probably been introduced as live bait by anglers. So it is likely that the same applies to Loch Lonachan.  On the bright side, the report also gives detailed records for Brook Lamprey, Eel, Three-spined stickleback and Flounder which I have transcribed and sent to HBRG from where they will be sent to NBN.

Furthermore…. Bill tells me that there are shoals of minnows in Loch Sleadale and that they are thought to be the cause of a catastrophic collapse of the brown trout population, perhaps because they they eat the small fry. There is no small tributary at Loch Sleadale  for the trout to breed where thay  might be safe. Possibly, the shrimp have been eaten as well.

So what we found in Loch Lonachan is probably the introduction of an unwanted locally non-native species that is harming the aquatic ecosystem.

 

Field Woundwort on Skye

August 26, 2014

Nick has found Stachys arvensis (Field Woundwort) at Earlish – the first Skye record since 1975.  There have been recent records from the Small Isles but this is the first record for Skye that has actually been localised to a tetrad (and in  this case, somewhat better).  One of the old records is from the 10 km square NG36 in which Earlish lies.

Stachys arvensis

Stachys arvensis         Photo: N. Hodgetts

Loch Sneosdal

August 25, 2014

Today the Skye Botany Group went to Loch Sneosdal and Creag Sneosdal and found a rich habitat on the basalt cliffs with Draba incana (Hoary Whitlowgrass), Oxyria digyna (Mountain Sorrel), four different Saxifraga spp and Saussurea alpina (Alpine Saw-wort).

Loch Sneosdal

Loch Sneosdal

There were some odd-looking ferns e.g.IMG_4142a

More could be said but time does not allow at present….

A Bit of a Rush

August 24, 2014

In order to complete the Site Condition Monitoring of the Trotternish Ridge SSSI I have to visit two populations of Juncus biglumis (Two-flowered Rush). One of these I intend to do on Tuesday with Chris, along with three other remaining populations of other species, but the remaining population of J. biglumis needed a special journey.  It being Sunday there were only two ferries – away at 10 and back at 16.30 so all in all getting to the site, doing the monitoring and getting back down didn’t leave much time for anything else. But at least I found it:

Juncus biglumis

Juncus biglumis

Recent Sightings

August 16, 2014

I have spent several days at Loch Lonachan, surveying aquatic plants but in passing we spotted broom moth larvae and this insect which I wasn’t sure if it was a caddis fly or a moth. Keith suggests it might be the moth Rhigognostis senilella (Rock-cress Smudge) which has been recorded from VC104, though Loch Lonachan is a little way from the nearest Rock-cress whether it be Arabis alpina, A. hirsuta or Arabidopsis petraea, or indeed other known host plants.

Rock-cress Smudge

Rock-cress Smudge

The loch was full of what appear to be minnows, which is rather nice. There are Heather Flies everywhere at the moment with their long red legs dangling down as they fly.

Then, back to Trotternish before the weather breaks, to Càrn Liath in fact, to look at calcareous screes.  Càrn Liath is impressive

Càrn Liath

Càrn Liath

if less than 500m high, and the boulder scree to the north, equally so:

Càrn Liath

Càrn Liath

The lower parts of it have some trees – all Sorbus aucuparia (Rowan) giving an unusual landscape for Skye:

Lower scree

Lower scree

The rock is basalt, which is calcareous, so it is perhaps not surprising that the landscape is redolent of limestones areas – though the flora is not a limestone flora.

There was a curious Vaccinium that I think is just V. vitis-idaea (Cowberry) with unusually crenate leaves:

Vaccinium

Vaccinium

I found the Cryptogramma crispa (Parsley Fern) where it has been known for over 50 years – and perhaps much longer, earlier records being a bit vague. This is a strangely rare plant on the Trotternish Ridge.

Cryptogramma crispa

Cryptogramma crispa

On the way back towards the car this Common Hawker obligingly stayed still for a photo:

Aeshna juncea

Aeshna juncea

Driving home through Portree I spotted a large and handsome specimen of Lythrum salicaria (Purple-loosestrife) by the roadside – a plant with rather few Skye records.

The Quirang

August 7, 2014

Today was mostly a day of monitoring Dry Heaths as part of the Site Condition Monitoring of the Trotternish Ridge SSSI. I passed the spring, Tobar nan Slàinte

Tobar nan Slàinte

Tobar nan Slainte

and Dun Mòr

Dun Mòr

Dun Mòr

The latter looks worth a trip up some time, the former not worth a trip down (into).

I found two populations of Sagina saginoides (Alpine Pearlwort), one previously known, one not, which is good for Site Condition Monitoring purposes.

Sagina saginoides

Sagina saginoides

and nearby there was a good patch of Saussurea alpina (Alpine Saw-wort):

Saussurea alpina

Saussurea alpina

This plant has been recorded on the Quirang from 1868 to 1973, the latter occasion probably being from the same site as today – though no grid reference is available for that record.

Loch Leathan

August 7, 2014

The delayed SWT trip to Loch Leathan took place yesterday and as soon as we were out of the car we spotted a new site for the locally uncommon Campanula rotundifolia (Harebell or Scottish Bluebell):

Campanula rotundifolia

Campanula rotundifolia

There were various pondweeds in the loch and some interesting potential Equisetum hybrids to look at. Parnassia palustris (Grass-of-Parnassus) was around the loch in good numbers:

Parnassia palustris

Parnassia palustris

We found lots of dead Three-spined Sticklebacks in the loch.  They seem unlikely bait and in any case the loch is fly-fishing only, so assuming that they belong there (and they have been recorded there in the past) the mystery is why there were so many dead ones.

Three-spined stickleback

Three-spined stickleback

Moth Update

August 5, 2014

Well, I have had an adult male Vapourer in the garden:

Vapourer

Vapourer

and a Dark Arches in the greenhouse:

Dark Arches

Dark Arches

plus a host of things in my moth trap. New to my moth trap were Antler

Antler

Antler

Coxcomb Prominent

Coxcomb Prominent

Coxcomb Prominent

Barred Yellow

Barred Yellow

Barred Yellow

and Pretty Pinion

Pretty Pinion

Pretty Pinion

Also several micromoths:

Bee Moth

Bee Moth

Common Grey

Common Grey

Common Purple & Gold

Common Purple & Gold

Poor picture of the last I am afraid, so only a small image offered. As usual thanks are due to Brian and Keith for identifications.

Coir’ an t-Seasgaich, Trotternish Ridge

August 3, 2014

This corrie lies to the south of Sgùrr a Mhadaidh Ruaidh and has been the site of long-term vegetation monitoring to assess effects of grazing and erosion.  However, actual plant records that have made their way into the BSBI database were nil.  This is a shame because it contains many of the plants one might expect from knowing the Ridge to the north and the south such as, from yesterday:

Koenigia islandica (Iceland-purslane)

Koenigia islandica (Iceland-purslane)

Poa alpina (Alpine Meadow-grass)

Poa alpina (Alpine Meadow-grass)

Poa glauca (Glaucous Meadow-grass)

Poa glauca (Glaucous Meadow-grass)

 

Saxifraga nivalis (Alpine Saxifrage)

Saxifraga nivalis (Alpine Saxifrage)

and Arabidopsis petraea (Northern Rock-cress), Draba incana (Hoary Whitlowgrass),  Gentianella campestris (Field Gentian), Minuartia sedoides (Cyphel), etc., etc.  Anyway, situation now improved!


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