October 23, 2016

John has spotted tomato plants growing out of the pavement in Portree:


Tomato in Portree            Photo: J Hawell

Today I went to take a photograph of Ruppia maritima (Beaked Tasselweed) at Oskaig for a forthcoming article as I did not seem to have one. It is looking a bit brown but otherwise pretty much as it would earlier in the year:


Ruppia maritima in late October

Crossing the road a little to the south of Oskaig, and >600m from open fresh water was  this fine female Black-bellied Diving Beetle (Dytiscus semisulcatus):

Richard recorded it on Raasay “very irregularly”.

Nothofagus alpina (Rauli), is a Southern Beech and ours has done rather well at autumn colour in the garden this year:


Rauli at night

Raasay’s Plants from New Zealand

October 4, 2016

This is the subject of my contribution to the  October edition of the Raasay Newsletter available here.

The Last Skye Botany Group Meeting of 2016

October 1, 2016

Yesterday we took a gentle stroll up Glen Sligachan from Sligachan itself. We managed to record 104 vascular plant taxa in a a generally species-poor area very late in the season – the number being boosted by plants around the Sligachan Hotel. Nick also recorded bryophytes and we spotted a few invertebrates, fungi and a frog to add to the store of data collated by the Highland Biological Recording Group.

We found a single plant of Eriocaulon aquaticum (Pipewort) in the River Sligachan.  Whilst there is plenty about in nearby lochans, this is the first time I have seen it actually in a river.

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In Memoriam Richard Moore

September 29, 2016

Sadly, Richard Moore, author of “The Beetles of the Isle of Raasay in the Inner Hebrides” has passed away. He first came to Raasay in 1972 and returned pretty much every year to record the beetle fauna.

Usually coming twice a year for several weeks and staying at Arnish, he had become part of the Raasay scene and will be much missed.

Almost single-handedly he took the list of Raasay beetles, which stood at 129 in 1983, to well over 700, the longest list for any island of the Inner Hebrides.

Fungi, Bugs and a Beetle

September 19, 2016

Steve has found this choke fungus near Broadford which is probably Epichloë typhina – though this “species” probably contains more than one entity. A specimen has gone to Kew for further investigation


Epichloe typhina                     Photo: S Terry

Meanwhile in my lawn this fruiting body appears to have turned itself inside-out.


I have trapped several bugs in the garden recently including Anthocoris nemorum, the Common Flower Bug. The books say it can pierce human flesh and I can testify to that – but it does help control aphids.


Anthocoris nemorum

A duller version which is well coated in erect hairs, Anthocoris sibiricus has only been recorded once in Britain – from Scalpay in the 1930s.

From further afield John has sent me an image of Carabus nitens, a fine, Nationally Scarce ground-beetle which he found on Ben Lomond.  Within the limits of the NBN gateway this appears to be only the second Scottish record in the years 2000-2016.


Carabus nitens        Photo: J Poulter

Thanks to Stephen Moran for insect determinations.

August and Before

September 5, 2016

Steve kindly sent 333 records from August, despite having spent a good chunk of it watching the Olympics, including this roadside Mentha x piperita (Peppermint (M. aquatica x spicata)):


Mentha x piperita                     Photo S. Terry

There are only a few VC 104 records for this, though it may have been overlooked.

Meanwhile, Carmen has sent records from visits to Skye this year and last. She visited various botanical hotspots and intends to return for more. Pleasingly she spotted Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani (Grey Club-rush) at Loch na h-Airde, something I missed  when the Skye Botany Group went there last year despite there being pre-2000 records

Great Fen-sedge in The Raasay Newsletter

August 30, 2016

My September contribution to the Raasay Community Newsletter can be found via a link on the Recording and Resources page of my website. The subject is Cladium mariscus (Great Fen-sedge).

The last tetrad with 100% land and no records

August 26, 2016

Yesterday I went to NG34E in which part of the Edinbane wind-farm is located. It was the last tetrad in VC 104 with no records ever. It now has 122.

There are still four tetrads with 20 -80% land and no records, mostly a bit of a pain to get to, plus more with <7% land, and then there are tetrads with earlier records but none since before 2000 (nine with 100% land and five with >20% land).

The wind-farm roads added quite a few species such as Capsella bursa-pastoris (Shepherd’s-purse), Cerastium glomeratum (Sticky Mouse-ear), Spergularia rubra (Sand Spurrey) and Urtica dioica (Common Nettle). There was also a nice wet area with Comarum palustre (Marsh Cinquefoil), Menyanthes trifoliata (Bogbean) and Sparganium natans (Least Bur-reed).

However, the tetrad to the west, NG24Z was less fun: lots of Molinia tussocks and not many plant species. In 2012 I recorded 74 taxa. After several hours in it yesterday that total has risen to 97.

It was a good day for insects, however. Heather Flies everywhere – this is their time of year – and several species each of butterflies, dragonflies and moths including this one which I have yet to sort out:

Moth NG2848

Also a lizard. I doubt if I shall ever get a photo of one, they skedaddle so fast.


Skye Botany Group at Eynort

August 26, 2016

On Wednesday went to Eynort and spent most of the time following the Allt nam Fitheach, particularly in its gorge in NG3827. It was tricky in places and we eventually had to climb out of the gorge and head along the top for a bit because of this:

SBG end of road

This tetrad already had 209 taxa recorded in it, mostly from a visit I made in 2006. However, we were in a different part of the tetrad this time and added the following to the 10 km square NG32:

  • Berberis darwinii (Darwin’s Barberry)
  • Bromopsis ramosa (Hairy-brome)
  • Ilex aquifolium (Holly) Really!
  • Larix x marschlinsii (Hybrid Larch)
  • Pinus contorta (Lodgepole Pine)
  • Trichophorum x foersteri (T. cespitosum x germanicum)
  • Tsuga heterophylla (Western Hemlock-spruce)

and a further 38 taxa to the tetrad.

There were plenty of fungi around including this:Clavulina rugosa maybe 1

which I think is Clavulina rugosa.

Bay Continued

August 22, 2016

John went back the next day and explored one of the burns that runs into the next tetrad to look for Orthilia secunda (Serrated Wintergreen) where I had found it in 2003/4.

Orthilia secunda Waternish LR

Orthilia secunda            Photo: J Hawell

He also spotted Pinguicula lusitanica (Pale Butterwort) which we hadn’t found the previous day:

Pinguicula lusitanica Waternish LR

Pingicula lustanica                             Photo: J Hawell

and this rose which seems to me to be classic Rosa mollis (Soft Downy-rose) with prickly hips and straight thorns on the stems.

Rosa mollis Watrenish LR

Rosa mollis     Photo: J Hawell

I went back to the area the following day, mostly to pass through to the next tetrad to the west. This was the penultimate tetrad in the vice-county with 100% land and no records ever.  I intend to knock off the last of these shortly.  The next sets to aim for are those with no records since before 2000, and tetrads with very few records. There are still 82 tetrads with <50 records ever – but a few of these really do not have many species as they contain only  small areas of land  e.g. I have been to tetrad NM19M and there are no plants as it is all below mean high water springs and no Zostera. Again, I have been to NG63E and there really are only 10 types of plant in it. And so on.

Anyway, I went back to the Honey Fungus to look for fruiting bodies but failed to find any. Growing on a dead standing conifer, it is most likely Armillaria ostoyae which is common in the Highlands. (It is a specimen of this fungus that is thought to be the largest organism on the planet.)

I visited the estuary area that John and I didn’t get to, where I re-found most of the relevant old records and added Bolboschoenus maritimus (Sea Club-rush).  I also re-visited the Sagina apetala (Annual Pearlwort) we found by the road, just to double-check my identification.

I found a patch of Montia fontana (Blinks) that I thought might be subsp. chondrosperma but when I looked at the specimen I took home, there were no seeds. All dispersed already. Here is a seed from Montia fontana subsp. fontana that I took at Bay: very shiny and without tubercles:

Montia fontana

Montia fontana subsp. fontana seed