Holly

December 1, 2017

Seasonally, my contribution to the December/January edition of the Raasay Newsletter concerns holly and is available via a link here.

Unfortunately the image credits did not get published. The picture of Holly Leaf Gall Fly (Phytomyza ilicis) is by Murdo Macdonald and that of Holly Speckle Fungus (Trochila ilicina) is from Stewart Taylor.

Corncrakes – Talk on Wednesday

November 28, 2017

A bit late but…..

Corncrakes

Skye & Raasay Woodland Survey 1987

November 28, 2017

A little over thirty years ago Viv Halcrow completed “A Preliminary Survey of Native Woodland on the Isles of Skye and Raasay” for the Nature Conservancy Council.  Whilst I have acquired a few records from this report over the years, mostly from Raasay, I have this year had access to the original data.

Viv surveyed 101 woodland sites and from all bar seven of these that spanned two 10 km squares, I have managed to extract 9,628 useful records. For 34 sites I have been able to allocate the records to a monad, for 35 to a tetrad and for the remaining 26 only to a hectad as the site spans two or more tetrads. (I know 7+34+35+26=102 – one site was recorded as two separate sections.)

This has resulted in several new 10km square records e.g. Asplenium ruta-muraria (Wall-rue) in NG71 at Allt Cailte and rather a lot of new tetrad records – making me realise just how many areas of woodland I have not visited on Skye.

Given the relative paucity of tetrad or better records from before 2000, this has been a real boon.

Plants Beginning With A…. or not

November 28, 2017

I sent an Agrimonia specimen to Douglas McKean at RBGE who says my “specimen is A. eupatoria for the following reasons: leaves greyish green beneath, fruit spines not reflexed and so fruit is top shaped and the fruits are deeply grooved.” See previous post.

Just because I am paranoid I am sending another specimen to Paul Green for his opinion.

Later: Paul says “By the shape of your fruit in your photo and the specimen your plant is clearly Agrimonia procera. The lower row of bristles are reflexed. Your fruits are bell shaped and the groves are shallow. The fruits of A. eupatoria are narrow and the groves are much deeper.”

This is getting embarrassing! I now have two highly respected botanists plus another historically who think the Skye & Raasay plants are A. eupatoria plus two highly respected botanists plus another historically who think they are A. procera.

Also, I have has a reply from Tony O’Mahony (BSBI Apium referee) about the putative Apium inundatum from Loch Duagrich. He says he does not think it is a Helosciadium (Latest name for Apium) because “(a) the leaflet-bases appear to be decurrent down the rhachis (NOT so in Helosciadium), while (b) the base of the leaf-petiole does NOT display the pair of conspicuous hyaline stipules that are so characteristic of H. nodiflorum, H. inundatum and their interspecific hybrid, H. x moorei.”

He also says “my first impression was that you had possibly collected a yellow-flowered member of the genus Rorippa, as the irregularly dentate leaflet teeth brought this genus to mind.”

Members of Skye Botany Group who were present may recall that was my first thought too!

I have a piece in cultivation so with any luck this can finally be resolved next year.

 

Flying Eagle, Other Matters

November 9, 2017

The day started well with a golden eagle flying slowly past the window during breakfast, pursued by a heron and squads of hooded crows and herring gulls.

Last Saturday was the Scottish Annual Meeting of the Botanical Society of Scotland and the Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland, held at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh. It was an excellent day with 150 participants. For me the highlight was being able to compare herbarium specimens of Agrimonia eupatoria (Agrimony) and Agrimonia procera (Fragrant Agrimony). This confirmed my view that the Skye plants are the latter – see e.g. this previous post. To be even more certain, I have today sent a specimen to Douglas McKean at RBGE. Images of Skye specimen by Steve Terry:

 

Tuesday saw the second Skye Nature Group expedition which seems to have gone well – slugs and snails, pseudoscorpions, centipedes and white disco fungi featuring amongst other finds. I was sorry to miss it but had a better offer!

This coming Saturday (11th) is the Highland Biological Recording Group’s autumn meeting at Strathpeffer Community Centre, 10.30 for 11.00. The main talk is

Rare Invertebrates in the Cairngorms – A lesson in treasure hunting.

Gabrielle Flinn, Rare Invertebrates in the Cairngorms Project Officer

Also coming up soon:

Capture

Tormore Forest

October 26, 2017

A bit of a damp walk today along the track and out the north end led to another new site for Hypericum humifusum (Trailing St John’s-wort) and a first vice-county record for Schizostylis coccinea (Kaffir Lily), now apparently renamed Hesperantha coccinea.  It is amazing how far folks will drive to dump garden rubbish. This well-established clump is 800m along the track from the car park by the road.

Schizostylis coccineaTormore

On the Trail

October 24, 2017

Trailing St John’s-wort (Hypericum humifusum) gets its name from its growth form but pleasingly it is usually found on trails (tracks) in this part of the world. Whilst it is reasonably frequent on Eigg, elsewhere in the vice-county there are very few recent records, the only Skye ones being on the track to Dalavil – until Steve found it Leitir Fura track a few days ago.

Distinguished from trailing forms of the common Hypericum pulchrum (Slender St John’s-wort) by having three sepals longer and wider than the other two, plus petals <2x length of sepals, the whole plant also often has a whorled appearance.

IMG_5766a

Hypericum humifusum Photo: S. Terry

Skye Nature Group – First Meeting

October 19, 2017

We were fortunate with the weather for the inaugural meeting in Kinloch Woods led by Steve Terry, which 11 people attended. Lichens and fungi took a lot of our interest but we spotted various other things as well.

We found Erica vagans (Cornish Heath) growing by the forest track – presumably escaped form Kinloch Lodge – or deliberately planted. There is only one previous record for Skye and that is vague both in date and location (1987-1999, NG44) and may be an error. I will look into that in more detail.

Erica vagans Kinloch

Erica vagans

There is more on the Skye Naturalists’ Network Facebook page and we are hoping to start a Skye Nature Group blog soon. My other contributions included this rather common bug that I knocked off hazel leaves (Anthocoris nemorum (Common Flower Bug)):

Anthocoris nemorum

Anthocoris nemorum

though I notice that three of the four previous post-1999 records for VC104 on the NBN Atlas are mine(!) and a leaf spot fungus on Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove) that I have yet to get named. Later: Ramularia variabilis . Thanks, Bruce.

LS on Digitalis

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 is 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.