Archive for July, 2010

A Sunny Day on Raasay

July 27, 2010

On Friday the sun shone and I was able to continue Site Condition Monitoring of the vascular plamts on the Raasay SSSI and check Polystichum lonchitis (Holly Fern) sites for the Threatened Plant Project.

The results were mostly good news.   I found a new site for Epipactis atrorubens (Dark-red Helleborine) with 44 plants and additional specimens of Sorbus rupicola (Rock Whitebeam) at one of the known sites.  This latter is difficult and dangerous terrain and I am not convinced that I have found them all yet.  At another site I found a young sapling – the first time that I have seen evidence that the seeds ever germinate on Raasay. 

The only downside was the loss of a single holly fern plant from an isolated site – probably a natural event but one worries about fern collectors for this species.

Up on the limestone the fragrant orchids are large and late but still seem to be Gymnadenia borealis (Heath Fragrant-orchid):

Gymnadenia borealis in late July

Persicaria vivipara (Alpine Bistort) is only known on Raasay from this area but here it is quite abundant:

Persicaria vivipara on Raasay

The butterflies were varied and numerous – Dark-green Fritillary, Speckled Wood, Green-veined White, Common Blue, Small Heath and Small Tortoiseshell.  Also, adult Magpie Moths are now in evidence.

Heron and Large Emerald

July 19, 2010

In the ditch outside the house there were three young herons yesterday morning. Two flew off but one remained all day.  We fed it tuna in spring water which seemed to go down well and it has now moved off but how far and how well it will fare remain to be seen:

Heron outside the house (Photo Andrew Darke)

Yesterday afternoon between Brae and Inver on Raasay we spotted a Large Emerald Moth, well actually one and a quarter large emerald moths, there being a wing in a nearby spider’s web too.

Large Emerald (Photo Andrew Darke)


July 19, 2010

A quick look at the Earlish area before collecting folks form the ferry at Uig led to as new site for the Nationally Scarce Deschampia setacea (Bog Hair-grass) in a wet area.  Amongst the heather as well as the looked-for Neottia cordata (Lesser Twayblade) I spotted Neotia ovata (Common Twayblade):

Neottia ovata on Skye

Wedding Day

July 19, 2010

For once I am including something different. Our daughter Elita was married to John on Saturday 10th and a day of beautiful weather was filled with happiness all round:

Elita and John (Photo C Maclean)

More Insects

July 14, 2010
Two hoverflies on Tanacetum parthenium (Feverfew) in the garden yesterday have been identified by Murdo Macdonald as Syritta pipiens and a Syrphus sp.  A dead moth in the hall today is Purple Clay (Diarsia brunnea)according to Brian Neath.


Syrphus sp. on Raasay


Syritta pipiens


Purple Clay


The Other Hybrid Orchid

July 12, 2010

My second hybrid orchid (see below) has been confirmed as Dactylorhiza incarnata x D. maculata (D. x carnea).  This is uncommon with only a handful of 10 km squares showing  post-2000 records on the BSBI Map.  In my vice-county the only previous records are from Raasay  in the 1930s and Rum in 1974.

Dactylorhiza x carnea on Skye

Orchid Hybrid

July 5, 2010

Richard Bateman has confirmed my hybrid as Gymnadenia borealis x Dactylorhiza incarnata. He points out that the spur is too long for Dactylorhiza incarnata  and too wide for Gymadenia. Also, the lateral sepals are long and spread in a rather non-dactyl way. He goes on to say, “The unusual colour and presence of scent seal the determination as far as I am concerned.  A great find!”

This appears to be the second confirmed record for the British Isles and new to Scotland.

That Fungus

July 3, 2010

I have had confirmation from Ern Emmet of Panaeolus semiovatus from my veggy patch – a first record for Skye/Raaasay.

Panaeolus semiovatus

Invertebrate News

July 2, 2010

The snail from Raasay turns out to be Balea perversa. Thanks to Andy Keay for the i.d. who says it is a native species which is in decline in many areas.  Seems to be doing OK on the Raasay limestone.

A fly that bothered me on Skye on Wednesday turns out to be Chrysops relictus, described by Murdo Macdonald who identified it for me as an extremely painful horsefly. Some had green eyes, some had orange eyes and at least one had an eye of each colour.


Other sightings that day included Meadow Brown, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Large Heath butterflies. A dragonfly was the four-spotted chaser and damselflies were Large Red and Common Blue. 


Four-spotted Chaser


 Golden-ringed Dragonfly was seen on Monday on Skye – it is pretty frequent in these parts.


July 2, 2010
On Skye on Wednesday I noticed two orchid hybrids, one of which I took to be Dactylorhiza incarnata pulcella (Early Marsh-orchid) x Gymnadenia borealis (Heath Fragrant-orchid):

X Dactylodenia

It does not have much in the way of Gymnadenia floral characteristics but it smells strongly of that orchid.  However, I see that there is only one accepted record of this hybrid in the British Isles. It was surrounded by  Dactylorhiza incarnata pulcella (the pale form) half its size and very close to several Gymnadenia borealis
The other seemed to be D. maculata (Heath Spotted-orchid) x D. incarnata, which is more widely found.
Back on Raasay I spotted a plant next to Polystichum lonchitis (Holly-fern) and P. aculeatum (Hard Shield-fern) that seemed satisfyingly intermediate, suggesting the hybrid P. x illyricum. An initial response from Chris Page is positive but further work is needed to be sure.

Polystichum x illyricum?

This is pretty rare with the current BSBI map showing no record since before 2000 and a total of nine 10km square records in which it has ever been recorded.