Archive for April, 2010

The Sea from the Kitchen Window

April 30, 2010

Two Great Northern Divers and an otter swam past the house in a line a few moments ago  – there must be good fishing under there this morning.

The American Speedwell (Veronica peregrina) in the garden is growing fast as a weed in the vegetable beds. We accidentally brought this with us from Lancashire many years ago and I have not ben able to eliminate it. In fact it appears intent upon world domination.

Yellow Archangel

April 28, 2010

Whilst waiting for the ferry home on Sunday, we walked along the shore to the east and spotted Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. argentatum (Garden Yellow-archangel) established with Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora (Montbretia) at the top of the shore.  Clearly a garden throwout but only the second record for it in the vice-county, the first being alomost exactly three years previously at Broadford.


April 26, 2010

The caterpillars at the weekend have been identified as those of the Drinker moth.  I had wondered about that but was concerned these didn’t look as bright as Drinker moth larvae I have seen in the past – presumably these were looking a bit dowdy on  a cool damp April day.

Larva of Drinker Moth

The River Varragill & Estuary

April 25, 2010

The Varragill is one of the rivers that flows into Portree Bay, coming in from the south. Over the weekend, I managed two sessions of recording  along the river and estuary between other commitments.  It is very early still though a number of spring flowers are beginning to bloom – bluebells, wood sorrel, violets etc.

The Myrica gale (Bog-myrtle) is looking at its best:

Myrica gale

Despite the time of year it was possible to confirm that Ruppia maritima (Beaked Tasselweed) is still present in a couple of pools:

Ruppia maritima pool

Ruppia maritima

The cuckoos were noisy and there were many birds in Portree Bay including a pair of Ringed Plovers on the shore.  Also many furry caterpillars perhaps Northern Eggar – I have sent an image away for checking.


April 24, 2010

I spotted my first swallow of the year on Thursday (22nd) flitting along the shore below the house.  Today there are two so it must be summer.

New Raasay Records

April 20, 2010

I found a whole hedge of Prunus spinosa (Blackthorn, Sloe) adjacent to the new ferry terminal site that had been hidden from view previously. This was pleasing because the only plant I had found previously was in Raasay House grounds and had been lost during renovation work.

Two new conifers have been spotted in Raasay House grounds which are yet to be confirmed but which are probably Cupressus macrocarpa (Monterey Cypress)

Cupressus macrocarpa?

Cupressus macrocarpa?

and Thuja occidentalis (Northern White-cedar).

Thuja occidentalis?

Thuja occidentalis?

Some cones from the Cupressus would be diagnostic – this is a species I normally think of as a hedging plant in the Mediterranean and Algarve.

Major Update to Flora – New Taxonomy

April 20, 2010

I have performed a major update to my Flora of Raasay and Rona to take account of the taxonomy based on APG III as used in Clive Stace’s 3rd edition of the New Flora of the British Isles.

Quite a few  families have been changed – split or combined, renamed or moved.  This is reflected in the page showing plants in taxonomic order.  Here and in the main text, new genus and species names replace the old.  The page of common names has had links updated accordingly and various comments on nomenclature have been adjusted.

Of the changes that are relevant to Skye and Raasay plants, some are reversions to previous combinations e.g. Asplenium scolopendrium (Phyllites scolopendrium), Centunculus minimus (Anagallis minima), Stranvaesia davidiana (Photinia davidiana), Carex lepidocarpa (C. viridula ssp. brachyrrhynca) and C. demissa (C. viridula ssp. oedocarpa), Avenula pubescens (Helictotrichon pubescens).  To my mind, these should be easy enough to remember as should things like Hebe becoming Veronica, Ranunculus ficaria becoming Ficaria verna and Lycopersicon esculentum becoming Solanum lycopersicum.

However, things like Leontodon becoming Scorzoneroides, Potentillla palustris becoming Comarum palustre and Festuca gigantea becoming Schedonorus giganteum may take a little longer to stick – especially as recording cards and MapMate software are unlikely to be changed immediately.

 Please let me know if I have got anything wrong – including links within the Flora as I have had to change quite a lot.

Conifers on Raasay

April 2, 2010

There are 19 different species of conifer recorded on Raasay:

Abies alba Pinus nigra subsp. laricio
Abies procera Pinus contorta
Pseudotsuga menziesii Pinus mugo
Tsuga heterophylla Sequoiadendron giganteum
Picea sitchensis Thuja plicata
Picea abies Juniperus communis
Larix decidua X Cupressocyparis leylandii
Larix kaempferi Araucaria araucana
Larix x marschlinsii Taxus baccata
Pinus sylvestris  

Only the Juniper is native.  The Yew and the Scots Pine, whilst native in the UK, are planted on Raasay.

Two of these need checking: Pinus nigra subsp. laricio and Larix kaempferi but in the meantime here are some pictures of Tsuga heterophylla (Western Hemlock-spruce) with this year’s male flowers looking fine at the moment:

Tsuga heterophylla in flower

 and with last year’s neat little cones:

Tsuga heterophylla cones

Hopefully, the various needle lengths that give rise to the specific name heterophylla are obvious, too.

Here are two of our more elderly specimens of Abies procera (Noble Fir):

Abies procera

but there are many younger self-seeded specimens too.