Two Moths

July 20, 2014

I put the moth trap out at Balachuirn a couple of nights ago and whilst the number caught was very low, I did have an Orange Swift:

Orange Swift

Orange Swift

Brian tells me this is only the second record for Skye/Raasay since the Rothamsted days, Keith Sadler having had the first at Portnalong on 11th July last year.

Meanwhile Keith kindly identified this micro-moth from our house as Blastobasis lacticolella.  He had one in June and another a couple of days ago, (and 6 last July).

Blastobasis lacticolella

Blastobasis lacticolella

Sometimes known as London Dowd or Wakely’s Dowd, it was introduced in western Europe in the nineteenth century and is now reported from The Netherlands, Great Britain and Madeira.

Healabhal Mhor (Macleod’s Table North)

July 18, 2014

Catriona used to warn me that this wasn’t the most exciting area botanically and yesterday’s trip confirmed this – though it was a great day to be up a hill and there were moments of botanical pleasure. There was a north-south column of five tetrads around here with no records and yesterday I sorted out the northernmost two as well as taking in the adjacent tetrads to the east.

The top of Healabhal Mhor (Macleod’s Table North) with a summit at 471m was surprisingly wet and covered in a relatively high sward of vegetation – not the bare plateau I had expected.

The Summit

The Summit

This limits its botanical interest considerably and leaves an existing record of Carex bigelowii (Stiff Sedge) as something of a mystery.

A small patch of Saussurea alpina (Alpine Saw-wort) on the north side of Healabhal Mhor at an altitude of about 300m was probably the highlight – it was not previously known from this hill and the last record for this 10km square (from Healabhal Bheag) was in 1968. It is not frequent on Skye away from the Cuillins.

Other pleasing finds included Salix herbacea (Dwarf Willow), Saxifraga hypnoides (Mossy Saxifrage), Thalictrum alpinum (Alpine Meadow-rue) and on the way back to the car

Where's the car?

Where’s the car?

a bog provided records for Drosera x obovata (Obovate Sundew (D. rotundifolia x anglica)) and Utricularia stygia (Nordic Bladderwort) (to be confirmed, but even better if a different member of the U. intermedia aggregate).

Ranunculus flammula subsp. minimus

July 15, 2014

Paul has sent me images of Ranunculus flammula subsp. minimus from the Outer Isles:

Ranunculus flammula minimus   Photo P. Smith

Ranunculus flammula minimus Photo P. Smith

This is not what I saw on Fladaigh Chuain, but it is worth looking our for on exposed clifftops. Note the shape of the basal leaves.

Wrap-up

July 14, 2014

In the end, the Fladaigh Chuain lists featured 35 bryophytes and 92 or 93 vascular plants (Atriplex seen from the boat was probably A. glabriuscula seen on land, but it was impossible to be certain). Also recorded were 29 species of bird, some in large numbers and including a single peregrine. We managed a few other records including rabbit, grey and common seals, the first ant record from the islands, Myrmica ruginodis, our commonest red ant locally, and Arion ater (Great Black Slug).

There was some distinctive-looking Ranunculus flammula (Lesser Spearwort) on Fladaigh Chuain with small flowers and glossy bright green leaves. I would like to make it R. flammula subsp. minimus which is known not far away in the Outer Isles, but it doesn’t seem right. The lowest leaves are key but it is possible that I just don’t have them on my specimen, which has now grown roots – so I will attempt to overwinter it.

Jean has found Stellaria graminea (Lesser Stitchwort) in the Dunvegan area, the first record for 50 years in the 10 km square NG24.

John reports that the Ononis repens (Restharrow) is flourishing:

Ononis repens

Ononis repens          Photo: J Hawell

This remains the only plant ever found in the vice-county.

Vapourer

July 11, 2014

I found this in our fruit cage today – a final instar larva of The Vapourer moth:IMG_3899aBrian tells me that he knows of only four Skye records, all 2012 or 2013, and no previous ones for Raasay.

He also confirms my Emperor larva from near Loch Leathan.

Reaching the Parts Other Botanists Have not Reached

July 10, 2014

During last winter, whilst looking at unrecorded tetrads, I registered that there is a small part of the 1o km square NG82 on Skye with no records. According to the Biological Records Centre tetrad NG82B has 0.2% land and NG82C has 1.35% land. A full tetrad is 2 x 2 km or 4 million square metres so 0.2% is 8,000 sq m e.g. 90 x 90 m. There is nothing remotely like that, but I must ask BRC where they measure from as things below the high water mark are clearly of interest to them, if less commonly so for me. Anyway, I managed 21 species in N82B – sadly not including my “marker” species Succisa pratensis (Devil’s-bit Scabious) that generally shows where I have been – but it did have Blysmus and Danthonia..

NG82C was more productive and had Juniperus communis subsp. communis (Common Juniper) which is anything but common here, unlike Juniperus communis subsp. nana (Dwarf Juniper), and only 3 km from another specimen at Kylerhea.

Juniperus communis subsp. communis

Juniperus communis subsp. communis

As well as these unrecorded bits of tetrads, the adjacent ones of NG72W and X were in need of work – W had 7 recorded taxa, 5 of which were mine from when I strayed in from another tetrad in 2010, and X had no records. These have both been much improved today and records were made of the many butterflies and dragonflies and a shrew.

There was a plant of Juncus effusus (Soft-rush) on which each inflorescence was guarded by a spider – perhaps a crab spider – but sadly I failed dismally to get a usable image.

Even if botanists haven’t been there before, there were derelict buildings from longer ago:IMG_3878a

This one with three Aspleniums on the walls

A. adiantum-nigrum, A. ruta-muraria & A. trichomanes subsp. quadrivalens

A. adiantum-nigrum, A. ruta-muraria & A. trichomanes subsp. quadrivalens

The secondIMG_3885q

with lots of ivy showing an unusual effect on leaf size – a sudden transition to smaller leaves lower down the wall:

Hedera helix (s.s.)

Hedera helix (s.s.)

and this small leaf size was also apparent across the floor of the building:Hedera 2

Otherwise, there was an interesting Equisetum that I need to have a closer look at but may just be E. palustre (Marsh Horsetail) behaving badly:equisetum TC

and Suaeda maritima (Annual Sea-blite)

Suaeda maritima

Suaeda maritima

Moth Trap

July 10, 2014

The night before last I put the moth trap out and caught 14 moths. One, probably a carpet, flew away as soon as I opened the box. The remainder comprised 2 x Mottled Beauty, one each of Triple-spotted Clay, Flame Carpet, Gothic, Large Yellow Underwing, Spectacle, Peppered Moth, Smoky Wainscot plus 1 undetermined and three micros. Several of these were firsts for my trap and the Gothic is, according to Brian, the first “Skye” record since 1975. Sadly, I only got a very poor image of it:

Gothic

Gothic

The three micros were one Bramble Shoot Moth and two probable Bee Moths (thanks, Keith).

Bramble Shoot Moth

Bramble Shoot Moth

Sgurr a’Mhadaidh Ruadh Area – Afterthought

July 9, 2014

As Terry pointed out at the time, there was one spot when we were within a few metres of six species of saxifrage:

Saxifraga aizoides (Yellow Saxifrage)
Saxifraga cespitosa (Tufted Saxifrage)
Saxifraga hypnoides (Mossy Saxifrage)
Saxifraga nivalis (Alpine Saxifrage)
Saxifraga oppositifolia (Purple Saxifrage)
Saxifraga stellaris (Starry Saxifrage)

This image shows S. cespitosa and S. nivalis (and Cerastium fontanum for a bit of bathos).

Saxifraga cespitosa & S. nivalis

Saxifraga cespitosa & S. nivalis

And at about 475 m, this is a new low-altitude records for S. cespitosa.

 

Sgurr a’Mhadaidh Ruadh Area

July 9, 2014

The Skye Botany Group went yesterday to the Trotternish Ridge near Sgurr a’Mhadaidh Ruadh to see the only known sites in VC104 for two Nationally Rare plants, Woodsia alpina (Alpine Woodsia) and the recently discovered Saxifraga cespitosa (Tufted Saxifrage). The former looks unchanged from its original discovery in 2001 and we established that there is a good population of the latter, now fruiting rather than flowering.

Woodsia alpina

Woodsia alpina

Saxifraga cespitosa

Saxifraga cespitosa

We had other nice finds like Epilobium alsinifolium (Chickweed Willowherb), Juncus triglumis (Three-flowered Rush), Koenigia islandica (Iceland-purslane), Poa glauca (Glaucous Meadow-grass), Polystichum lonchitis (Holly-fern) and Saxifraga nivalis (Alpine Saxifrage).

Epilobium alsinifolium

Epilobium alsinifolium

That Smut

July 9, 2014

You may recall my showing a picture of a smut on Carex flacca recently. Here is a better picture of the same infected plant:

Anthracoidea pratensis Photo:J. Hawell

Anthracoidea pratensis        Photo:J. Hawell

Martyn Ainsworth tells me that for England, Anthracoidea pratensis is represented by one collection (Windsor) in 1974 and there are three Scottish sites. Scottish collections finish in 1874 so it would be very useful to have a voucher to support the fact that it isn’t extinct in Scotland. So it is back to Kishorn for a specimen.

He is hoping to have this species included in the forthcoming “Lost & Found Project” for species of fungi in Britain that are known only
from a small number of collections, and/or have not been seen for many years.

He also lists the following species of Anthracoidea for which voucher specimens would be greatly welcomed should you ever be lucky enough to encounter them. The name follows the sedge host except in the two species shown.

A. bigelowii
A. capillaris
A. caryophylleae
A. limosa
A. pseudirregularis (on Carex pallescens)
A. pulicaris
A. scirpi (on Trichophorum germanicum sens. lat.)

There is not quite the same level of interest in its counterparts on Carex echinata and C. panicea both of which I have seen locally, the one on C. echinata being common. For these, records rather than voucher specimens will do nicely.


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