Archive for March, 2010

Purple Saxifrage

March 31, 2010

Yesterday several of us were intending to go and inspect the Saxifraga oppositifolia near Neist Point.  However, the weather put us off. One of us living locally provided this image for me:

Another compensation was watching an otter in the sea from our kitchen window while it was snowing.

Raasay Firs

March 29, 2010

Freshly informed about conifers I went to check that the trees described as Abies procera (Noble Fir) since the 1930s are indeed that species.  They are.  However, nearby I also found Abies alba (European Silver-fir) as I suspected I might.  Slightly embarrassingly, many years ago I was given details of trees planted by the Forestry Commission on Raasay and the species list  included Abies alba. Since Abies procera was not on the list, I concluded that A. alba was an error for A. procera.

Abies alba has not been formally recorded on Raasay before and will need to be added to my flora.  It is known on Rum but not recorded there since 1959.  The only Skye record is down to Mary McCallum Webster in 1987 but is not localised to better than the 10 km square.  I feel sure that if I start to look for it in plantations I shall find it on Skye.

Beetles and Fungus

March 29, 2010

Richard Moore has sent further results of beetles from our compost heap. The list includes Carpelimus corticinus, which is new to the Hebrides.

My bramble rust fungus has been confirmed as Phragmidium violaceum.

Conifer Workshop

March 29, 2010

Yesterday’s conifer workshop at Reelig Glen near Beauly was a great success.  Here is the crew:

Conifer Workshop Group

and here is one of the objects of study:


This is Calocedrus decurrens (syn. Libocedrus decurrens), the  California Incense-cedar which is very rarely planted in the UK, but much of the day was spent on things that we are likely to come across and has left me wondering whether I have been ignoring Abies alba (European Silver-fir) in my home patch and with at least one other thing to check.

Many thanks are due to Cameron Crook for leading us through the trees.

Bullfinch Alert

March 26, 2010

The bullfinches have arrived. The great pity is that the fruit cage has been under reconstruction and the netting has not been fully replaced.  The bullfinches love our currant bushes. Urgent action required.

Snow is forecast for the conifer workshop, which is an entirely outdoor event……

HBRG & Conifer Workshop

March 23, 2010

The HBRG meeting I mentioned as being in Strathpeffer on 27th March is actually in Inverness at Great Glen House. The guest speaker is John Love, talking on ‘Highland Naturalists’ .

The next day I am attending a conifer workshop in the same area run by Cameron Crook and hope to learn a thing or two.

The first bumblebee of 2010

March 10, 2010

We have been having beautiful weather and two days ago I saw a White-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lucorum) which is pretty early, though we normally claim the first Highland records here on the west coast.

Bramble Rust Fungi

March 4, 2010

This month the Highland Biological Recording Group‘s species of the month are bramble rust fungi.  I have not managed to go looking for the previous two months’ species, Holly Leaf Miner and Beech Leaf-gall Midge as I have been away so much – though I could still have a go.  This month’s species did not prove much of a challenge as by my front gate a bramble , Rubus subinermoides, is clearly infected with one of these rusts.  It is probably Phragmidium violaceum but I shall take a specimen to the HBRG meeting in Strathpeffer on 27th March for expert checking.