The Second Half of 2014

December 15, 2014

Before it is even over,  I have posted a report on H2 2014 on my home page. No more exciting finds are allowed until 1st January. Many  thanks to all who contributed records this year – it has been a great one.

HBRG Meeting at Tain

December 9, 2014

This happened ten days ago and I was much enamoured of a talk on the Highland Seashore Project by George Brown. I am hoping he will give a talk on Skye next year.

Yarrell’s blenny in a scaffold tube below Kylesku Bridge   Photo: G. Brown

Yarrell’s blenny in a scaffold tube below Kylesku Bridge         Photo: G. Brown

Talk in Portree next Wednesday 26 November

November 19, 2014

All welcome….Martin Moran Poster_edited-1

Odds & Ends

November 12, 2014

It hardly seems worth mentioning the fine Humpback Whale that has been in the Sound of Raasay for a couple of weeks – it is all over the web – Facebook, BBC Scotland etc. But for the sake of completeness….

June tells me that she has a Snow Bunting on her bird feeder in Inverarish. There has also been one at Staffin see Skye Birds.

This ichneumon arrived last night:

IMG_4253aMurdo says “One of the Ophionidae parasitic wasps.  I think this is Netelia, from what I see of the venation, but like all the ichneumons species ID is desperately difficult.”

Over The Sea From Skye

November 9, 2014

Yesterday I went to have  a look at Andrew Curie’s herbarium, currently being looked after by NTS at Balmacara. There are a lot of fully curated sheets from all over Scotland and the rest of Europe:

Soidago virgaurea sheet

Soidago virgaurea sheet

(With apologies for picture quality – I didn’t have my camera handy and took this with the webcam on my laptop.)

There is also three-quarters of a herbarium cabinet that contains uncurated specimens. The curated sheets just need to be catalogued, the remainder either need to be mounted, labelled and catalogued or discarded. I fear many will have to be discarded as they do not appear to have full details of where and when collected. Anyone want a job?

After that I had a walk around Loch Iain Oig and Loch Palascaig in order to look for some species that had not been seen in NG72 within VC105 for a long time. It is a long way from Poolewe for Duncan to come so I have offered to do a small amount of recording over there.

I succeeded with Isoetes lacustris, Juncus articulatus, Juncus bulbosus, Juncus conglomeratus, Littorella uniflora and Myriophyllum alterniflorum all last recorded in 1989.

It turns out that I also made first ever VC105 NG72 records for Epilobium brunnescens, Festuca vivipara, Juncus squarrosus, J. tenuis, Pinus contorta, Saxifraga × urbium, Stachys sylvatica, Tropaeolum majus, Vaccinium vitis-idaea, Veronica officinalis & Viola palustris. Just shows how much there is to do there – it is November and I only recorded 82 taxa.

I was amused to find Tropaeolum majus (Nasturtium) again so soon after my first record for VC104. Duncan tells me that it was not known in VC105 until this year but that mine is the fifth record.

Tropaeolum majus in VC105

Tropaeolum majus in VC105

It was not the only garden throw-out around there.

Talk at Tarskavaig

November 5, 2014

Alison Hester of the James Hutton Institute is giving a talk in Tarskavaig Hall on Saturday 22nd November at 8pm entitled

A snapshot in time: 40 years of change in our mountain and moorland plants”.

She says ” Most of what I will summarise is whole Scotland level…. but what I have done is pick moorland and mountains as the focus habitats for my talk as they are so highly relevant for the general area on and around Sleat, so hopefully will be of high interest to people.”

(The James Hutton Institute was created in 2011 and brings together the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute and SCRI (Scottish Crop Research Institute.))

Snippets from SAM

November 2, 2014

At the Scottish Annual Meeting, an image taken by Terry during the Skye Botany Group trip to Loch Sneosdal came second in the Plants and People category of the photographic competition. It features Gwyn in the middle distance walking in the loch.

I learnt that as at Edinbane, Senecio inaequidens (Narrow-leaved Ragwort) grows at the base of wind farm turbines on Orkney, suggesting a common source of introduced material

I also learnt more about iSpot and how to make greater use of its capabilities – more on this another time…..

Whiting not Sprats (Correction)

October 30, 2014

The shore is covered with dead whiting (Merlangius merlangus) after the storm:

Sprats 2Sprat 1Clearly they are not to the gulls’ taste. There was an otter along the shore this morning this morning though they did not seem to his taste either.

Thanks to Aisling Smith of the Marine Biological Association for the i.d.

Nearer Home

October 29, 2014

Along the road not far from home today I spotted a good clump of Stellaria graminea (Lesser Stitchwort) in the same spot as I saw it three years ago. This may be the only extant specimen on Raasay. A little farther on was a single plant of Tropaeolum majus (Nasturtium) with flowers still on it – despite a frost last week.  This garden escape/throw-out is a first record for VC104. There is a 2004 record from Barra which lies in Plant Hardiness Zone 9a with average winter temperatures that this plant is expected to survive. Raasay lies in the next zone, 8b, so it will be interesting to see how it does.

See Plant Hardiness Zone Map of the British Isles.


October 29, 2014

About ten days ago Helen & Kate found a single specimen of Prunus padus (Bird Cherry) in Raasay SSSI near Screapadal whilst undertaking woodland condition monitoring.  Yesterday I went to try and find it but failed. In between their visit and mine the storms had removed most of the leaves from most of the trees, which didn’t help.  I shall have to have another try in the flowering season next year.

The reason this is noteworthy is that the only previous records of this tree as a native on Raasay are from Brochel woods by the shore in 1903 (Harvie-Brown) and somewhere unspecified in the southern part of Raasay in 1957 by Mary McCallum Webster.  (It has been planted as part of a native tree planting mixture on Raasay and Fladday.)

However, it was an interesting day…. on my way to Screapadal I watched a small landslip from the first few pebbles to the more serious lumps of ground falling just above the path. I was too slow getting the camera out to take a video.

The Aftermath

The Aftermath

There was Moehringia trinervia (Three-nerved Sandwort) still in flower:

Moehringia trinervia

Moehringia trinervia

This plant is known from a number of sites on Raasay and Eigg and there is an old record from Rum, but it has never been recorded on Skye.

Screapadal was looking good in the autumn sun, and we needed a fine day or two after the recent storm:



and there were good fungi about.

Cup Fungus

Bracket Fungus - awaiting help with i.d.

Bracket Fungus – awaiting help with i.d.

Oh yes, and there was Alder Tongue Gall on the alders


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