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.
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.
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
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).
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:
Also a lizard. I doubt if I shall ever get a photo of one, they skedaddle so fast.
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:
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:
which I think is Clavulina rugosa.
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 Photo: J Hawell
He also spotted Pinguicula lusitanica (Pale Butterwort) which we hadn’t found the previous day:
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 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 he 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 subsp. fontana seed
August 19, 2016
John and I walked a stretch of the Bay River today and then explored a bit more of the tetrad NG25R. We found 197 taxa – with a couple of specimens still to be studied.
Highlights included Cystopteris fragilis (Brittle Bladder-fern) – new to NG25, Equisetum pratense (Shady Horsetail) and the locally uncommon Veronica beccabunga (Brooklime).
There was also this honey fungus on Picea sitchensis (Sitka Spruce):
Rhizomorphs or Mycelial cords. Probably Armillaria ostoyae.
August 17, 2016
South-west of Edinbane a walk though the forestry plantation takes you to Crò nan Caorach and Mullach Ben Sca, the latter at a massive 210m above sea level.
First thing this morning, I thought I was off to two tetrads with previous records for 1 and 10 taxa. Checking what the one was, I discovered it was the result of an erroneous grid reference and so I had three rather than two tetrads left with 100% land and no records. I am now back to two.
It was a pleasant day with few plant records worthy of a more specific grid reference: Alnus incana (Grey Alder – planted but spreading), Spergularia rubra (Sand Spurrey), Malva moschata (Musk-mallow – a garden throw-out presumably, but known there for nine years now) and Neottia cordata (Lesser Twayblade).
Malva moschata flower
Malva moschata leaves
Taxa counts are now 111 and 152.
There was also this fine Red Admiral on Senecio jacobaea (Common Ragwort). Whilst I see a few every year, they are never common here.
and a leaf spot fungus on Lotus corniculatus (Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil):
I noticed that a tetrad near Portree which I would drive through on the way home had only a couple of records. Twenty minutes along the roadside raised this to 90.
August 15, 2016
I suspect not many folks get to Loch Vidigill. It is a well-vegetated loch with a moderately interesting selection of plants e.g. Comarum palustre (Marsh Cinquefoil), Menyanthes trifoliata (Bogbean) and Sparganium natans (Least Bur-reed). It was cloudy after the recent rains and so I didn’t get a chance to assess any bottom-dwelling flora properly. It does not appear to be very acidic – no bladderworts or sundews.
The forest track that follows the Allt Meadale had lots of Gnaphalium uliginosum (Marsh Cudweed) – it is very common on Skye on roadsides and tracks where it is a bit muddy or at least stays damp. When well developed it looks like this:
but in these ruderal habitats, where it can occur in large numbers it can look like this:
Gnaphalium uliginosum on the Allt Meadale track
August 15, 2016
There was lots of Vaccinium vitis-idaea (Cowberry or Lingonberry for those of you with Scandinavian connections) in fruit – often this is a shy fruiter in our area.
Vaccinium vitis-idaeus in fruit
and on the tops quite a bit of the montane form of Solidago virgaurea (Goldenrod) which can be recorded as subsp. minuta though whether it retains these characteristics if transplanted to a less stressed environment, I do not know.
Solidago virgaurea subsp. minuta