Archive for May, 2011

Odds & Ends

May 20, 2011

On entering yesterday’s records I realised that it was I had made the first vice-county record for Lamium maculatum (Spotted Dead-nettle). Not very exciting really as a garden escape, but it was amongst a heap of rubble that had been dumped – some time ago by the look of it – and there was also Asplenium scolopendrium (Hart’s-tongue ).

Lamium maculatum

In the garden the Tanacetum parthenium (Feverfew) has gone a bit funny this year:

Tanacetum parthenium

but this fellow emerged to eat some slugs (I hope) this afternoon:


The River Snizort Again

May 19, 2011

Well it turned out that there was no more Carex aquatilis (Water Sedge), nor Schoenoplectus lacustris (Common Club-rush), nor Sparganium erectum (Branched Bur-reed) between the higher reaches of the River Snizort and its lower reaches – with one proviso.  The river was in spate so I could not cross it to inspect a patch of sedge on the west bank, but I think it is only Carex rostrata (Bottle Sedge).

River Snizort

However, there were several sites for Carex canescens (White Sedge):

Carex canescens

and up by the road near Uigshader there was Mentha x villosa (Apple-mint), a failry frequent escape in these parts:

Mentha x villosa

Beside the river there was my first Golden-ringed Dragonfly (Cordulegaster boltonii) of the year:

Golden-ringed Dragonfly

The Raasay Rocket

May 18, 2011

Yesterday I spotted this in disturbed ground near the new ferry terminal:

The Raasay Rocket

Here is a leaf:


and flowers and fruit:

Flowers and Fruit

I haven’t fully made up my mind which rocket it is yet, but whichever it is, it will be new to Raasay, the vice-county and a good chunk of NW Scotland. It will presumably have come in with grass seed or straw. The seeded grass areas are on my list to see which grasses are in them as they flower.

Later:  both I and Tim Rich, to whom I sent photos, are pretty sure it is Sisymbrium altissimum (Tall Rocket).  Ripe fruits should settle it, if it survives.

Raasay Local

May 15, 2011

In between the showers today, I made a dash out thinking that it was about time I looked on the beech trees for one of the Highland Biological Recording Group’s target species, the Beech Leaf-Mining Weevil (Orchestes fagi).  No problem:

Orchestes fagi

Also munching the beech leaves, was this fellow which various folks have kindly told me is the larva of the Mottled Umber (Erannis defoliaria):

Erannis defoliaria larva

Some alders had alder gall mite (Eriophyes laevis):

Eriophyes laevis

Eyre, Raasay

May 14, 2011

I made a quick visit to Eyre between the showers today to look closely at the Veronica beccabunga (Brooklime) as yesterday at Tormore I found some young plants which I thought were this. A specimen brought home also keyed out as this in The Vegetative Key to the British Flora.  However, I wanted to compare the specimen with a known population and so took it to Eyre. Some plants were at the same stage as the ones at Tormore, but some were in full flower. Anyway,it is definitely the correct identification. There was also some nettle rust (Puccinia urticata), I think the first Raasay record.

Tormore Forest

May 14, 2011

Sleat Community Trust is acquiring Tormore Forest. See

Nick Hodgetts and I went with Annabel Pendlebury to survey vascular plants (me) and bryophytes (Nick) yesterday in some of the ravines within the forest area.


Nick found about 110 bryophytes and I found 140 vascular plants. Neither of us found any great rarities but the ravines were quite rich and worthy of preservation during timber removal.

This is a Green-veined White (Pieris napi) on Heath-spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza maculata):

Butterfly on orchid

and this is a Speckled Yellow (Pseudopanthera macularia), only the third Skye record and my second record (thanks, Brian):

Speckled Yellow

There was also my first Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina) of the year and this is a hoverfly (a Syrphus) on a white bluebell.

Hoverfly on White Bluebell

River Snizort Sedge

May 12, 2011

The sedge I found beside the upper reaches of the River Snizort has been determined by Mike Porter as Carex aquatilis (Water Sedge).  This is not too surprising as the only previous record for this sedge in the vice-county is in the lower reaches of the same river.

Carex aquatilis

Now I need to check the river in between the old and new records – for this and Sparganium erectum and Schoenoplectus lacustris.

Upper Reaches of the River Snizort

May 10, 2011

A windy day yesterday but a useful one. I found nesting goosanders and a dipper plus a hedgehog on the road, sadly the aftermath of an RTA.


The River Snizort was full of Schoenoplectus lacustris (Common Club-rush) and Sparganium erectum (Branched Bur-reed), the latter in particular not  having very many Skye records, though it may have been under-recorded.

Schoenoplectus & Sparganium

A riverside sedge needs further study but may be interesting too.

A cluster of about fifty plants of Neottia ovata (Twayblade) was coming into flower:


and the only nettles I saw were infected with Puccinia urticata (Nettle Rust):

Nettle Rust

Along the roadside where the Forestry has been felling large area of conifers, there were over a dozen specimens of Spergularia rubra (Sand Spurrey), a rare plant locally but this is typical of its habitat.

Sand Spurrey

The other question of the day is what was this little fellow doing in the middle of the river?Help!

Insect news

May 9, 2011

A moth found near Loch na Beiste has been identified by Brian Neath as a Brown Silver-line:

Brown Silver-line

He says this caterpillar form Cnoc na Loch is that of a burnet moth, presumably a Six-spot Burnet


The stonefly in the preceding post is probably Perla bipunctata, a large, flightless stonefly, according to Craig Macadam.

Vikisgill Burn, Loch a’ Grobhain & Beinn Bhreac

May 5, 2011

Yesterday, I visited three tetrads for which there were no previous records.  The burns were quite rich and the Loch OK though it is early in the season for aquatics, but much of the intervening moor and Beinn Bhreac were MAMBA (miles and miles or beggar all, or something like that).

Lots of common things are looking good at this time of year such as Cardamine pratensis:

Cuckooflower or Lady's-smock

Equisetum sylvaticum:

Wood Horsetail

and Anemone nemorosa:

Wood Anemone

I didn’t spot anything rare but there were nice things like Alchemilla alpina (Alpine Lady’s-mantle), Sparganium natans (Least Bur-reed) and Thalictrum minus (Alpine Meadow-rue). Orchis mascula (Early-purple Orchid)  and Dactylorhiza maculata (Heath Spotted-orchid) were flowering well.

From Beinn Bhreac there is a good view of the Black Cuillin:

Another day's work

The insects were many and varied with butterflies including Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi), Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines) and the ubiquitous Green-veined White (Pieris napi).  A hoverfly has been identified by Murdo Macdonald as Sericomyia lappona


and an enormous stonefly is tentatively identified as a perlid.