From Glenbrittle towards Loch Eynort

May 24, 2016

I had a very useful day yesterday travelling due west from Glenbrittle beach, getting into three tetrads with only a dozen plants recorded between them.

The first, NG32V, had Lycopodium clavatum (Stag’s-horn Clubmoss), the first record in NG32 since 1973.

Lycopodium clavatum

Lycopodium clavatum

The long white hairs on the tips of the leaves are a useful means of distinguishing this (and L. lagopus) from L. annotinum (Interrupted Clubmoss):

Lycopodium clavatum 2

I assume this isn’t L. lagopus (see this blog entry), my only question being that there does seem to be a hint of annual growth constrictions:

Lycopodium clavatum 3

Anyway, on to other things…. There is still lots of Alchemilla alpina (Alpine Lady’s-mantle) on Truagh Meall where Catriona Murray found it in 1996 and, new to NG32, there was a single frond of Ophioglossum vulgatum (Adder’s-tongue) in the sort of habitat I would have thought Botrychium more likely:

Ophioglossum vulagatum Truagh Meall

Nearer to Glenbrittle, a spring contained Saxifraga stellaris (Starry Saxifrage).

Heading west into NG32Q there is still Carex limosa (Bog-sedge) in the Loch an Leth-uillt area (which also had Palmate Newts) and there is also Bog-sedge in an unnamed loch east of Cnoc nan Uan.

Carex limosa

Carex limosa

One of the burns had Chara virgata (Delicate Stonewort) which was new to NG32.

But the richest area was the coastal cliffs in NG32Q and NG32K with all sorts of nice plants. Carlina vulgaris (Carline Thistle) was present in good numbers, previously only know from NG32 as an unlocalised entry in the 1962 BSBI Atlas. There was lots of Agrimonia procera (Fragrant Agrimony), again new to NG32, Trollius europaeus (Globeflower) in flower already, Saxifraga hypnoides (Mossy Saxifrage) and pink specimens of Orchis mascula (Early-purple Orchid) as well as some more standard versions:

orchis mascula pink

Everywhere I went there were Common Heath moths – day-flying moths that do not stay still for long to have their photo taken but I managed this one:

Common Heath LR

Common Heath

There are some stunning views on the coast, but it is quite a walk in.



Skye Botany Group

May 22, 2016

We are going to explore an area in the SE of Waternish – to the NW of Greshornish – on Tuesday 31st May. This area has virtually no vascular plant or bryophyte records. If you would like to join us please get in touch via the e-mail/phone details you can find here

Fungi on Ericaceous Shrubs

May 20, 2016

When I was in the Allt a’ Choin area I noticed fungi on Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry) and Vaccinium vitis-idaea (Cowberry).

Bruce tells me the one on Arctostaphylos is Lembosina gontardii, not common but recorded from the Highlands. The one on Vaccinium is Physalospora vitis-idaeae, quite common and widespread, but there are not many records of these things.

Arc u-u fungus

Lembosina gontardii

Vacc v-i fungus

Physalospora vitis-idaeae


May 20, 2016

Today there is a two-banded longhorn beetle (Rhagium bifasciatum) on the house wall. I seem to see one of these per year here. A couple of days ago I spotted a larva of the Square-spot Rustic in the garden, again something I have found here before.

Square-spot Rustic Larva

Square-spot Rustic

There was the Scottish form of Common Pug in the polytunnel last week. It shot out of a hanging basket of strawberries as I watered it:

DSC01591a - Pug

Scottish form of Common Pug

This took a bit of debate amongst local moth folks but Roy Leverton has confirmed its identity.

Back at the beginning of May we had a Meadow Pipit in the garden for several days – presumably sheltering from the grotty weather before returning to its normal hunting ground on the moors.  Being right on the shore, I am more used to seeing Rock Pipits in the garden.

Meadow Pipit

Wet Meadow Pipit

Other things I haven’t mentioned include a Common Lizard on Raasay seen by Katherine and another near Healabhal Bheag (MacLeod’s Table South) seen by myself.

Inver Tote

May 16, 2016

I had an interesting day in the Inver Tote area.  I re-found Equisetum pratense (Shady Horsetail) in NG56A though not in quite the same place as the records from the 1970s. May is a good time to find this species; I don’t know what happens later in the year but it seems to disappear early.

Whilst I didn’t spot Vicia sylvatica (Wood Vetch) in NG56A I did find it in the adjacent NG56F, a tetrad with only four species recorded previously.

I had a good walk in NG56F and recorded many species. There were hundreds of flowering Orchis mascula (Early-purple Orchid) including some fine specimens:

Orchis mascula Inver Tote

Orchis mascula

It was a good day for insects: Green Tiger Beetle and a Rove Beetle (Staphylinus erythropterus):

Staphylinus erythropterus 1

Staphylinus erythropterus

Moth larvae found were The Drinker, Garden Tiger and Six-spot Burnet:

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and also a c. 40mm cocoon that I am hoping someone will identify for me (Later: The Drinker. Thanks, Nigel):


There was lots of Equisetum telmateia (Great Horsetail) about:

Equisetum telmateia Inver Tote

Equisetum telmateia

Plants in flower included Silene dioica (Red Campion), Silene uniflora (Sea Campion) and Allium ursinum (Ramsons):

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May 16, 2016

On my way to Inver Tote today I diverted to Ellishadder to have a look at Morag’s Euphorbia. With it there was a mint, probably of garden origin, and rather like Mentha spicata (Spear Mint) but I will have to wait for flowers to decide whether it is this or a hybrid.

Also, there was this shrub which I am struggling with:

Ellishader shrub1

Ellishader shrub2

Perhaps someone can enlighten me?  If it flowers later in the year things should become easier.  Clearly someone dumped their garden rubbish here.

Later: The consensus is that it is an Escallonia; confirmation and perhaps greater specificity awaits flowering.

Lycopodium lagopus

May 15, 2016

Lycopodium lagopus (One-cone Clubmoss) is similar to Lycopodium clavatum (Stag’s-horn Clubmoss) but as the name suggests has a higher frequency of one-coned fertile shoots. It was first reported in the British Isles in 2007.

Readers with a long memories may recall seeing this in July 2009:


Curly Lycopodium

Whilst there are not many single-coned shoots in evidence, this population shows other L. lagopus charcteristics – the cones do not have stalks, there are  annual growth constrictions and the vegetative branching is fairly erect.  Misshapen cones are also known from a L. lagopus population at Drumochter. However, it does not look like “typical” L. lagopus as understood from the few known British populations. The hybrid may be worth consideration. In any event a return to the site this year is called for in order to assess it properly.

Raasay Newsletter May: Worts

May 14, 2016

My contribution to the Raasay Newsletter in May concerned plants with names ending in “wort”.  You can find it here. I shall return to worts in some future month….

Moonwort LR


Steve has been busy….

May 14, 2016

A record of Lepidium heterophyllum (Smith’s Pepperwort) near Roag is in a new, in fact only the sixth, 10 km square for Skye:


Lepidium heterophyllum                        Photo: S. Terry

and near Kyleakin, what looks to me like Euphorbia cyparissias (Cypress Spurge) is new to the vice-county. There were 2014 records not far away in Glenelg and Inverinate.


Euphorbia cyparissias                  Photo S. Terry

He has also spotted Cardamine pratensis flore pleno (Cuckooflower (double))


Cardamine pratensis flore pleno       Photo: S. Terry

and a Geranium we have yet to identify. Later: Now thinking perhaps Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Ingwersen’s Variety’.  Later Still: Andrew Norton (BSBI Geranium referee) says from images that it is G. macrorrhizum and “the variety is more difficult to confirm but from what I can see ‘Ingwersen’s Variety’ would be most likely.”


Geranium sp.                   Photo: S. Terry

Glen Scamadale

May 14, 2016

Yesterday I wandered across the moor from Peingown to Glen Scamadal and beyond to the northern slopes of Sgurr Mor. Both tetrads involved had very few records, but there were some nice things recorded from the Glen Scamadal gorge and I was able to re-find all of these and more.

My travel up the Glen Scamadal gorge was brought to a halt by this:

Glen Scamadal gorge

Glen Scamadal

but by then I had found Saxifraga hypnoides (Mossy Saxifrage) – lots in flower – Saxifraga aizoides (Yellow Saxifrage) – no flowers yet – and Saxifraga oppositifolia (Purple Saxifrage) – now in fruit:

Saxifraga oppositifolia in fruit

Saxifraga oppositifolia

There was also Silene acaulis (Moss Campion) and Silene uniflora (Sea Campion), lots of flowering Orchis mascula (Early-purple Orchid) and, best of all, over 100 shoots of Equisetum pratense (Shady Horsetail):

Equisetum pratense

Equisetum pratense

I was unable to find Salix phylicifolia (Tea-leaved Willow), or indeed any willows at all, by the Lòn Harro where it was recorded in 1973.

Several of the rivers were almost choked with Callitriche brutia subsp. hamulata (Intermediate Water-starwort):

Callitriche brutia subsp. hamulata

Like Wednesday in a completely different part of Skye I spotted  Heath Navel (Lichenomphalia umbellifera) and Violet Ground Beetle (Carabus violaceus) – must be the time of year.

Some Pedicularis sylvatica (Lousewort) flowers early i.e. now, and it always seems to be subsp. sylvatica rather than subsp. hibernica. However, as the latter makes up  only a few percent of the total it may just be that I haven’t kissed enough frogs.

Newly emergent Achillea millefolium (Yarrow) can look quite remarkably furry:

Achillea millefolium- young

All in all, an excellent day even though very windy, which is my excuse for a couple of the images being in less than perfect focus.


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