Miscellany

October 15, 2017

Skye Nature Group has its first meeting next Wednesday, 18th October. We shall be exploring the woods in the vicinity of the Kinloch Lodge Hotel.

The survey has so far resulted in an encouraging 33 positive responses and 6 “maybes” to the question: “Are you interested in being part of an informal Skye Nature Group?”

This lichen has been identified by Nick & Steve as Peltigera hymenina. It is growing by my front door. Not rare but attractive at this stage.

Peltigera hymenina

Peltigera hymenina

This bristletail turned up in the bath. As it is a top of the shore inhabitant I suspect small grandchildren as the dispersal agent. I have looked at it under the microscope and using the key at bristletail.net I am content that it is Sea Bristletail (Petrobius maritimus) rather than the very similar P. brevistylis.

Petrobius maritimus (2)

Sea Bristletail

Less pleasingly, a few days ago I was shown a New Zealand Flatworm from a polytunnel not far from home here on Raasay.

Hawkweeds on Muck

October 6, 2017

David McCosh has determined my 2017 Hieracium specimens. I realise this a niche activity but the three from Muck, H. argenteum (Silvery Hawkweed), H. deganwyense (Deganwy Hawkweed) and H. subrubicundum (Large-leaved Hawkweed) turned out to be new to Muck, with H. deganwyense new to VC104.

No pictures either, I am afraid.

 

Skye Nature Group

October 4, 2017

 A new group is being set up to complement Skye Botany Group, looking at other groups of organisms. If you live in or visit Skye, please would you complete the survey here https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/FTQ958G so that we can attempt to maximise its potential? Thank you.

No Trees

October 4, 2017

Yesterday, I went looking for Sorbus rupicola (Rock Whitebeam) at some known sites in the Elgol and Kilmarie/Drinan areas. I didn’t find any. However, I do know one very good site for it around there – and there is plenty of possible ground to cover, at least in one area.  It grows on cliffs and is usually only present in small numbers. One day I shall have another go.

However, it was a good day. I checked several areas of roadside for Juncus bufonius/ranarius and was relieved to find that they were all the former which is what I have been commonly recording. Whilst J. ranarius is to be found in that habitat, it appears to be in the minority.

I am always pleased to see Carex otrubae (False Fox-sedge), which is always coastal here:

Carex otrubae Elgol

Carex otrubae at Elgol

I was briefly uncertain as to the identity of a thicket on the hillside, but when I got close, it turned out to have arisen from a fallen Gean (Prunus avium):

Prunus avium thicket

Some of the larger stems are showing the distinctive bark:

Prunus avium bark

Near Kilmarie and Drinan some Parnassia palustris (Grass-of-Parnassus) was still in flower:

Parnassia Kilmarie area 171003.jpg

Parnassia palustris

Less welcome was the large number of Cotoneaster integrifolius (Entire-leaved Cotoneaster) plants:

Cotoneaster integrifolius S of Kilmarie

Cotoneaster integrifolius

I recorded a number of plant pathogenic fungi. This sycamore leaf has Rhytisma acerinum (Tar Spot), Cristulariella depraedens (Sycamore White Spot) and galls caused by mites:

Sycamore leaf with fungi & galls

Loch Duagrich

September 30, 2017

The Skye Botany Group had such a good day at Loch Duagrich a couple of years ago, that we decided to go back armed with a bathyscope and a grapnel. The first throw of the grapnel produced a large quantity of Nitella translucens (Translucent Stonewort), a charophyte with very few records in the vice-county.  Maybe greater use of the grapnel would increase the known distribution quite a bit.

The other significant find was of this plant, which may be terrestrial Apium inundatum (Lesser Marshwort):

Plant from Loch Duagrich LR

Apium inundatum?

It was there two years ago. I had intended to return earlier in the season in the hope of finding a flower or fruit,  but forgot about it. It is on gravel beside the loch but not actually in the water. Opinions welcome! There are two undated, unlocalised and generally doubtful records for Skye, and the only certain population in VC104 appears to have gone from Sanday, so this would be a really nice find.

We collected specimens of Subularia aquatica (Awlwort) for the University of Toulouse and the Elatine hexandra (Six-stamened Waterwort) was doing well.

In passing we recorded 102 vascular plants in the monad NG3939; apart from Nitella translucens and maybe Apium inundatum, only Carex leporina (Oval Sedge) was new to the tetrad.

Afterwards I collected the few remaining fruits on a stand of Sparganium erectum (Branched Bur-reed) near the Amar River for Mike Wilcox to have a look at, in order to determine the subspecies.

Latest Publications

September 28, 2017

The note written by myself and Seth concerning his discovery of Mitella ovalis (Bishop’s-cap) at Uig has now been published in BSBI News. It is available via a link here. My contribution to the October Raasay Community Newsletter concerns violets and pansies and will be available from the same page next week. Later: Now available.

Meanwhile here is a Small Wainscot from last night’s trap:

Moth 6 Small Wainscot

Small Wainscot

Frog Rush

September 15, 2017

Following the discovery of Juncus ranarius (Frog Rush) as a roadside plant as well as a coastal plant on Skye by Ian Green and the Wildflower Society. I found it in two roadside places myself during my Roadside Mud expedition.

Andy Amphlett and Ian have been finding it elsewhere in the Highlands e.g. along the A9 and I am now wondering just how much of the J. bufonius agg. along our main roads (of which there is plenty) belongs to this species. At the end of the day it is not too surprising that this salt-tolerant plant is among those found on our roadsides.

There only seem to be two reliable differences – the distal end of the inner tepals and the seed surface.

J bufonius & ranarius tepals

Inner tepals: Juncus bufonius (LEFT) & J ranarius (RIGHT)       Photo M. Wilcox

Juncus bufonius agg seeds - A = J foliosus, B = J. bufonius, C = J ranarius

Juncus bufonius agg. seeds – A = J foliosus, B = J. bufonius, C = J ranarius

From Cope, T.A. & Stace, C.A. 1978. The Juncus bufonius L. aggregate in western Europe. Watsonia 12, 113-128.

I have included J. foliosus as that too is found in our area (rarely) but in very wet marshy areas – and that is distinctive in other ways such as having wider leaves.

Thanks to Mike, Ian and Andy for getting me up to speed with this.

Roadside Mud

September 7, 2017

On Tuesday, I toured quite a large part of Skye peering at muddy roadsides. My principal aim was to improve coverage for Centunculus minimus (Chaffweed) – so much easier than clambering along the rocky coasts that seem to be its natural habitat here. It seems to like the larger roads, perhaps because they get more salt, and is usually associated with Juncus bufonius (Toad Rush) and Gnaphalium uliginosum (Marsh Cudweed).

My Chaffweed Tour resulted in a record for one new 10 km square (NG62 in two sites) and records in two 10 km squares with no post-2000 records: NG33 and NG61.

In passing I made the first record in NG60 for Polygonum arenastrum (Equal-leaved Knotgrass). This is our common representative of the P. aviculare aggregate though P. aviculare sensu stricto does also occur. It likes ruderal habitats – tracks, field gates and muddy roadsides.

I intend to repeat the exercise next year in the northern parts of Skye I didn’t reach this week and where there are several 10 km squares with no records for Chaffweed.

I gave myself a little light relief and visited Tarskavig Bay, where I had last been in 2006, I had forgotten that it had nice things like Bolboschoenus maritimus (Sea Club-rush), Lycopus europaeus (Gypsywort) and Persicaria amphibia (Amphibious Bistort) as well as the locally very uncommon Artemisia vulgaris (Mugwort) (Six sites in VC104 post-1999). I was pleased to find Centaurium erythraea (Common Centaury) still in flower – another uncommon species on Skye.

In Tarskavig some Anaphalis margaritacea (Pearly Everlasting) has escaped from a garden. There are only two eariler records for this on Skye, one of which was within Lyndale House grounds, which feels a bit dodgy to me.

Anaphalis margaritacea

Anaphalis margaritacea (Pearly Everlasting)

I was checking more Calystegia (Bindweeds) and found some infected with the fungus Septoria convolvuli, which seems to be locally common.

Septoria convolvuli on calystegia sepium

Septoria convolvuli on Calystegia sepium

 

Eelgrass

September 6, 2017

My contribution to the September issue of the Raasay Community Newsletter concerns Eelgrass and can be found via a link here.

White Spindles

September 3, 2017

Returning to Coir an t-Seasgaich  for some bryophyte work with Nick, I spotted Clavaria fragilis (= Clavaria vermicularis) at about 500m.  This has a variety of common names: fairy fingers, white worm coral, or white spindles and I last saw it on Dun Caan, Raasay two years ago.

Clavaria fragilis

Clavaria fragilis

Maybe it should be called Bean Sprouts.