Plant Matters

September 16, 2020

The final batch of Hieracium specimens for the year produced two notable species, H. dasythrix (Dense-haired Hawkweed) on Glamaig with only one previous record in the vice-county (in 1973) and H. cyclicum (Round-leaved Hawkweed) from Leathad Beithe (Talisker) which has five earlier records, one in 2002, the rest considerably earlier.

I started the year with five specific Hieracium targets in addition to the more general suveying:

  • Seth’s 2019 H. beebyanum or H. deganwyense at Uig
  • My H. subcrinellum at Allt Daraich, Sligachan
  • An attempt to refind H. stenopholidium at Hallaig, Raasay
  • My 2019 H. reticulatiforme or H. strictiforme at Talisker
  • H. drummondii at Laig, Eigg

None of these has been fully resolved:

  • Seth’s Uig plant matches no known species but before attempting to describe it as a new species it would have to be found in other locations.
  • Only H.shoolbredii and H. anglicum have been found at the Allt Daraich site.
  • H. stenopholidium was not found at Hallaig.
  • H. cyclicum and H. triviale have been found at the Talisker site.
  • I did not get to Eigg.

Elsewhere Joanna and Julian have moved to Harlosh and found Lepidium didymum (Lesser Swine-cress) as a weed in their garden – a first for the vice-county.

Lepidium didymum (Lesser Swine-cress)
Lepidium didymum (Lesser Swine-cress)

Neil and Seth have each been adding useful records for e.g. Salix purpurea (Purple Willow) and Zostera marina (Eelgrass).

Catch-up Time

August 25, 2020

A family expedition to Brochel at low tide produced this fine fish under a rock:

Cornish Clingfish Lepadogaster purpurea (Taxonomy appears to be unclear between this and L. lepadogaster)

Yesterday, walking to the south of the River Drynoch I spotted this proliferative Dactylis glomerata (Cock’s-foot). This is a known phenomenon in this grass, see e.g. here.

Proliferative Dactylis gloerata

Nearby there were two Light Knot Grass caterpillars

Light Knot Grass Larva

and a couple of adult Shaded Broad-bar moths:

Shaded Broad-bar

Neither of these have large numbers of records locally.

Spar Cave and Surrounds

August 20, 2020

Ludicrously, I had never been to Spar Cave near Glasnakille on Skye – until last Tuesday. It is well worth a visit, but one needs to be prepared for a steep climb down, slippery rocks on the shore and total darkness in the extensive cave.

Spar Cave

Spar Cave

Unsurprisingly, there was no plant life apart from around the entrance. Hopes of finding the gametophyte of Trichomanes speciosum (Killarney Fern) remained unrealised even though it is known in a couple of sites not far away. Animal life was also thin on the ground but a few fungi may turn out to be of interest.

Just outside there were moth pupae on Asplenium scolopendrium (Hart’s-tongue) which Seth is checking whether the culprit is Psychoides filicivora or P. verhuella. (Later: Confirmed as P. filicivora from larval charcaters.)

Psychoides pupa

Down on the shore there was Devonshire cup-coral (Caryophyllia smithii)

Devonshire cup-coral Caryophyllia smithii

Away from the shore we found a patch of Calamagrostis epigejos (Wood Small-reed) together with Agrimonia procera (Fragrant Agrimony) and later on the roadside there was Linaria repens (Pale or Striped Toadflax) – only the third site in the vice-county. It has been known in Portree for getting on for 50 years and there is a single 1978 record from Kyleakin.

Linaria repens (Pale or StripedToadflax)

More New Moths

August 16, 2020

My latest effort with the moth trap produced three moths that I have not seen here before, which takes my total number of adult moth species seen here to 190.

Common Footman
Dotted Carpet
Northern Spinach

Meanwhile, out on the hill there were several Brown China-mark (Elophila nymphaeata) moths near Camas Malag. The China-marks are unusual in that their larvae are entirely aquatic, feeding on water plants. There were leaf mines in Potamogeton polygonifolius (Bog Pondweed) that were likely produced by the larvae.

Brown China-mark (Elophila nymphaeata)

An Interesting Mothtrapful

August 11, 2020

A couple of nights ago the trap yielded 27 moths including

  • four Eudonia angustea – I usually see one or two of those a year
  • A Bee Moth
  • and the star of the show, Satin Beauty – the second record ever for VC 104.

Eudonia angustea

Eudonia angustea      Narrow-winged Grey

Bee moth

Aphomia sociella   Bee Moth

Satin Beauty

Satin Beauty

Roy Leverton who confirmed Keith’s identification says, “Those plumose antennae alone are sufficient. Also characteristic is the wear. Wild-caught ones are typically worn. I wonder whether the scales are more loosely attached than in similar species.”

Also in the trap were three sexton beetles, Nicrophorus investigator and two small caddisflies. Jason Doe says that the second is a Hydropsyche sp. – the antennae have helical ridges and the first looks like a Limnephilid, with the prominent black spines on the legs.

Caddis 200808 #1

Caddis #1

Caddis 200808 #2

Caddis #2

I am afraid that is as far as I am going with those.


August 7, 2020

Yesterday I climbed Glamaig, my nearest Red Cuillin, but one of very few that I have never climbed to the top. One of the sites I had intended to include was Leathad Dubh on the northern edge, but Nick went there looking for bryophytes on Monday and found two of the three vascular plants I would have been looking for based on pre-2000 records: Cirsium heterophyllum (Melancholy Thistle) and Rubus saxatilis (Stone Bramble). I very nearly went on Monday – if I had we would very probably have bumped into one another.

So, not needing to do Leathad Dubh I went back to a Hieracium site on the Allt Daraich and took another specimen in the hope of re-finding the probable H. subcrinellum (Blunt-leaved Hawkweed) I found last year. I also found another Hieracium site a little way upstream, so another specimen for determination.

Then, up the hill. There were Scotch Argus butterflies in good numbers and I caught this little moth that turns out to be Eana osseana (Dotted Shade), one with few records hereabouts.

Eana osseana

Eana osseana

In terms of finding plants that had not been recorded since before 2000, things were a bit thin with only Euphrasia frigida (Upland Eyebright) re-found – no Gnaphalium supinum (Dwarf Cudweed), Silene acaulis (Moss Campion) or Silene uniflora (Sea Campion). It is a shame about the Gnaphalium as there is no record in NG53 since 1993.

However, I did add 33 taxa to the tetrad list including Luzula spicata (Spiked Wood-Rush) and the hybrid sallow Salix x reichardtii (S. caprea x cinerea).

It was a bright if windy day and I didn’t do well at taking photos – apart from Hieracium specimens. Here is the summit mound with Raasay behind it:

Glamaig Summit

Glamaig Summit

Not far away there was this fungal fruiting body growing through Salix herbacea (Dwarf Willow) and Alchemilla alpina (Alpine Lady’s-mantle). Initially suggested to be Stubble Rosegill (Volvariella gloiocephala), Colin’s comment below has led to a redetermination as Amanita nivalis  (Snow Ringless Amanita or Mountain Grisette).

Volvariella gloiocephala

Amanita nivalis  (Snow Ringless Amanita or Mountain Grisette)

This is one of the species in the Lost and Found Fungi project and is a first for the vice-county. See here.


New Moths

July 26, 2020

The past week has seen three moths that I have not seen before here at home. Two were attracted to the light on the moth trap but didn’t make it inside:

Small Fan-footed Wave

Small Fan-footed Wave

Pebble Prominent

Pebble Prominent

The third was in the greenhouse and is only the second record for the vice-county – the first being last year.

Scallop Shell

Scallop Shell

Other Insects (Not Moths)

July 14, 2020

This well-marked bug came in with the moth trap. I am not sure if it was actually in it, but Stephen Moran who identified it for me says it may well have been.

Neolygus viridis

Neolygus viridis

Another one came in with some Leycesteria formosa (Himalayan Honeysuckle or Pheasant Berry) heading for a vase, but will have to wait for full determination:

Orthotylus sp.

Orthotylus sp.

When I was at Brae the other day it was quite windy so most moths I disturbed, and there were quite a few, took off like rockets into the distance. However, I did sweep a weevil off bracken, which turned out to be Otiorhynchus scaber, a largely Scottish species. “A nice find which fills in a bare patch on current maps.” according to Stephen Moran.

Otiorhynchus scaber

Otiorhynchus scaber

However, Richard Moore found it a number of times on Raasay. Many of his records will appear on NBN soon. I will post about this separately, fairly soon.

Plant News plus Fungi

July 14, 2020

The trouble with finding Hieracium silvaticoides (Wood Hawkweed) is that it casts into doubt earlier records in the vice-county for the very similar H. duriceps (Hard-headed Hawkweed). One of these records is from limestone rocks near Brae on Raasay in NG5541, so I went to collect specimens from that area. Time will tell what I found.

I was delighted to re-find Orthilia secunda (Serrated Wintergreen) at a site where I discovered it in 1996 but where it had not been recorded since. It is not exactly in a spot one passes by casually. Best to climb up the nearby waterfall and then up a steep slope – and there it is, about 20 rosettes of leaves but only one plant in flower/fruit:

Orthilia secunda

Orthilia secunda (Serrated Wintergreen)

Close by was this fungus on  Geum rivale (Water Avens)

Ramularia gei on Geum rivale

Ramularia gei on Geum rivale

and along the gorge the Ulmus glabra (Wych Elm) was covered in this:

More Moths

July 14, 2020

My most recent moth trap didn’t yield anything new, though there were some that were new for the year and that I always like to see, such as this Burnished Brass.

Burnished Brass

Burnished Brass

One evening I spotted several micro-moths flitting about on the “lawn”. They turn out to be Opostega salaciella (Sorrel Bent-wing) and indeed it was Rumex acetosa (Common Sorrel) that was attracting them.

Opostega salaciella

Opostega salaciella Sorrel Bent-wing

The large “eye-caps” are a distinguishing feature.

It has taken a while to sort out, but this micro from the Leac area of Raasay has been identified as Rhigognostis senilella (Rock-cress Smudge). The good news is that there is Arabis hirsuta (Hairy Rock-cress) nearby.

Rhigognostis senilella

Rhigognostis senilella (Rock-cress Smudge)

Near Sconser, whilst on a Hieracium hunt, I found Aphelia viburnana (Bilberry Tortrix):

Aphelia viburnana

Aphelia viburnana