Archive for June, 2010

Lapland Marsh-orchids, Holly Fern, Dark-red Hellobrine etc

June 27, 2010

Today, I managed to combine work for RBGE, collecting Dactylorhiza traunsteinerioides ssp lapponica (Lapland Marsh-orchid) for micropropagation work, a Threatened Plant Project record of Poylystichum lonchitis (Holly Fern) and Site Condition Monitoring of the Raasay SSSI work for SNH on Epipactis atrorubens (Dark-red Helleborine) and Dryas octopetala (Mountain Avens).

It was a very odd feeling to dig up uncommon orchids albeit under licence and one I don’t wish to repeat.   There may be 200+ at the site but it still feels fundamentally not right, even though it is in a good cause.

Whilst checking the P. lonchitis site I found three further plants that I had not seen before, which was pleasing.

Polystichum lonchitis on Raasay

The E. atrorubens site also yielded many more than previously, largely because I explored a steep rocky ledge in the dry that one would not approach if the rocks were wet. A few were in bud but most will not flower this year.

Epipactis atrorubens in bud on Raasay

There were red grouse, golden plovers and snipe.  There was, remarkably, Ocypus olens (Devil’s Coach-horse beetle), which only two days ago Richard Moore told me he had not found on Raasay despite having a list of c. 700 beetles for Raasay, the highest in the Hebrides. (More a measure of coleopterist effort than of beetle diversity, I suspect.)

There was a small snail on the limestone that I belive to be Clausilia bidentata (a door snail) and there were ants that I shall send to Murdo Macdonald for the last year of the Highland Ant Atlas project.  I shall also send him an ant that Richard found a few days ago in fresh seaweed debris near Brochel – not the first habitat in which one looks for ants.

And some nice Neottia cordata (Lesser Twayblade) on the moor:

Neottia cordata on Raasay

Right next to Polystichum lonchitis and P. aculeatum was a candidate for the hybrid, P. x illyricum

Polystichum x illyricum?

Expert opinion awaited.

Back home, expert opinion is also awaited on a fungus in the garden growng in a dung-enriched vegetable bed. 

Panaeolus semiovatus?

I think it may be Panaeolus semiovatus. If so, the NBN  map shows a record for VC104 on  Eigg but none for Skye or  Raasay.

Kensaleyre – Part 2

June 22, 2010

It seems worth noting the otter near Skerinish Point – plus plenty of evidence of otters on the shore.  Also a record of chimney sweeper moths near Keistle appears to be only the second formal record from Skye, though I have seen it a number of  times at this time of year.  There is an excellent website of lepidoptera listed alphabetically by common names.

Other plants of note included Equisetum pratense (Shady Horsetail), Salicornia (Glasswort, Marsh Samphire), Suaeda maritima (Annual Sea-blite) and other orchids: Dactylorhiza incarnata (Early Marsh-orchid), Dactylorhiza purpurella (Northern Marsh-orchid) and Listera ovata (Twayblade) in deep shade and showing no sign of flowering.


June 21, 2010

I had a fine day in the Kensaleyre area of Skye today with orchids everywhere.  One bank had hundreds of Gymnadenia borealis (Heath Fragrant-orchid), three Pseudorchis albida (Small-white Orchid), fifteen Platanthera chlorantha (Greater Butterfly-orchid) plus Dacylorhiza fuchsii and D. maculata (Common and Heath Spotted-orchids):

Platanthera chlorantha

Gymnadenia borealis

Pseudorchis albida


There was also this unusual form of Geum rivale (Water Avens):

Geum rivale form


Perhaps more on the day later…..


June 13, 2010

Osmigarry is a little to the southwest of Rubha Hunish and so after the SWT walk (see below), I was able to spend a while looking at this area.  This tetrad (of which getting on for 90% is sea) only had two records: Berula erecta (Lesser Water-parsnip) and Lemna minor (Duckweed), both rare on Skye. 

I found the Lesser Water-parsnip and noted that it also extended into the next tetrad to the east which is part of a different 10km square and one in which this species had never been recorded. This makes it known in four adjacent 10km squares on Skye. The duckweed was in the same stream.

I also found lots of Carex diandra (Lesser Tussock-sedge) adding a fifth 10km square for Skye for this plant.

Rubha Hunish

June 13, 2010

Yesterday I led a SWT walk to Rubha Hunish, the northernmost point of Skye.  The weather was kind, the nesting sea-birds were excellent and we also saw a Minke whale and an otter.  The plants we saw were varied since we started with a look at some Centaurium erythraea (Common Centaury) on a roadside bank which was still some way from flowering and then moved on to Loch Cleat with its various sedges and horsetails, notably Carex diandra (Lesser Tussock-sedge) and Carex canescens (White Sedge).  The former is restricted to a very few sites in the vice-county. 

We walked across moorland to the shore where there was fine Dactylorhiza purpurella (Northern Marsh-orchid) and then to Meall Tuath: 

The path down Meall Tuath, seen from Rubha Hunish

The path down was steep for some but beside it there were interesting plants such as Silene acaulis (Moss campion) and Juniperus comunis ssp. nana (Dwarf Juniper).  

Rubha Hunish had the expected sea-cliff plants like Silene uniflora (Sea Campion), Sedum rosea (Roseroot) and Ligusticum scoticum (Scots Lovage), but it was pleasing to find Sagina maritima (Sea Pearlwort) for which there are few recent records in the vice-county and a little unexpected to find Blysmus rufus (Saltmarsh Flat-sedge) on the top of the sea-cliffs. 

The thrift (Armeria maritima) forms notable tussocks here, which Chris Mitchell called Bactrian thrift:

Bactrian thrift

On the way back I spotted this pupa: 

Pupa at Meall Tuath

I am hoping to hear what it is shortly.   LATER: Brian Neath tells me it is a magpie moth pupa. 

Lapland Marsh-orchid

June 10, 2010

I know it is now Pugsley’s Mash-orchid (Dactylorhiza traunsteinerioides) but there still seems to me to be visible differences between what was Dactylorhiza lapponica and D. traunsteineri.

Anyway, John and Carol Tomkins came to Raasay today and I took them to see the Raasay population.  It was in rude health – we counted about 160 flowering spikes and there were also non-flowering rosettes.  This is about as high as ever seen, which is very pleasing as I had feared a population decline in recent years.

We also spotted Botrychium lunaria (Moonwort), Listera cordata (Lesser Twayblade) and Chara vulgaris (Common Stonewort – not common here).  Oh yes, and some Large Red Damselflies – a recent Species of the Month for HBRG.


June 7, 2010

I went to Duntulm in the far north of Skye today in preparation for a walk I am leading on Saturday for the Skye & Lochalsh branch of SWT.

Duntulm Castle

Loch Cleat has a good number of local rarities like Carex diandra (Lesser Tussock-sedge) and Schoenoplectus lacustris (Common Club-rush) though we will have to be careful not to destroy what we have come to look at on Saturday.

A number of old records were re-found such as Osmunda regalis (Royal Fern) in a coastal gully and Silene acaulis (Moss Campion) on the cliffs:

Silene acaulis on the cliffs

Two other Silene species were on the cliffs too;

Silene dioica and S. uniflora on the cliffs

Come to think of it, after the recent nomenclatural changes there was a fourth Silene around too – S. flos-cuculi (Ragged-Robin) – but I didn’t take a photo of that.

Rum – at last

June 6, 2010

I have now dealt with my Rum records from 25th May.  I  was recording in tetrads as usual and visited three, all around Kinloch.  I added 42 new tetrad records of which eight were new 10km square records.  Overall it looks as though the recording for the Flora of Rum was perhaps a little thin in tetrad 30V to the northwest of Kinloch as I recorded the fewest number of species in total out of the three visited tetrads (88 cf 125 and 168) yet over half (23) of the new tetrad records were from here.

Among the more pleasing records were Osmunda regalis (Royal Fern, new to NG30V):

Osmunda regalis on Rum

 and Stellaria graminea (Lesser Stitchwort) about 30 metres inside the 10km square NM39.  A previous record for this plant in this square had been thought to be a reassignment by convention at the time from NM49 (Kinloch).

I also recorded the large red damselfly as this was one of  HBRG‘s  species of the month during May.


June 2, 2010

I still haven’t sorted out the Rum records but I have noticed that two sites for Equisetum pratense (Shady Horsetail) spotted during my limestone-fix day are the first for the south of Skye, though there are plenty of sites further north and on Raasay and the Small Isles.   My potential Equisetum hybrid is probably just E. hyemale (Rough Horsetail), which is how I recorded it originally.

Islay and Jura were fun (particularly Laphroaig and Ardbeg distilleries) and we saw choughs, heard a corncrake (where else could you do both these things within a few hundred metres?), saw many brown hares – and a few nice plants.  Ardnave was covered in Carex arenaria (Sand Sedge) and Ranunculus bulbosus (Bulbous Buttercup), plus some Erodium cicutarium (Common Stork’s-bill), all rare on Skye, and also Geranium molle (Dove’s-foot Crane’s-bill).  There was lots of Catabrosa aquatica (Whorl-grass) on the shore.

We also saw the Dutch tallship Thalassa:

Thalassa in the Sound of Islay

and the scattered partial remains of a whale:

Where is the bowl of petunias?