Archive for March, 2012

Moths & Larks

March 30, 2012

Last Sunday and Monday we were on Skye. The temperature was nudging 20C and the larks were singing.  There were peacock butterflies in flight and it felt almost like summer.

Before we left I checked the moth trap I had set up the night before. Brian Neath has identified four species in the seven moths I caught:

Common Quaker

Clouded Drab

Hebrew Character

Red Chestnut

HBRG Spring Meeting

March 24, 2012

Today we met in Strathpeffer for the Spring Meeting of HBRG. I ended up giving a talk on the flora of Raasay – a shortened version of a previous offering – as the planned speaker was unable to be present.  We also heard about blowflies, earthworms, freshwater sponges and kiwis.

I am told by Ian Evans that the green thing I reported last summer growing in a burn is probably Ophrydium, a protozoan which usually lives in spherical jelly-like lumps containing Chlorella-like endosymbionts

Since getting home I have

– looked at the OPAL earthworm project and downloaded the earthworm field guide  – despite appearances on the NBN Gateway, we do have earthworms in Scotland…

– had a look at Global Biodiversity Information Facility

– and ordered a copy of Collins Photo Guide to Lakes, Rivers, Streams & Ponds by Fitter & Manuel. More available second-hand at Abeboooks but I have had the cheapest!

The First Bumblebees of 2012

March 24, 2012

This week has seen the first White-tailed Bumblebees (Bombus lucorum) of 2012 on Raasay, a bit later than last year perhaps because we were having poor weather despite a mild winter.

The BSBI Distributional Database

March 11, 2012

I now have all the records for VC104 in the DDB downloaded into my local database.  This means that there is some duplication but I have access to all the records that BSBI has currently computerised and uploaded so that when I produce a map like this


it is as up-to-date as possible.  It has six more red dots (pre-2000 tetrad records) than the one I would have produced last week.  Overall, I have gained 1697 additional tetrad dots. I have now put my total database through the NBN Record Cleaner and found quite a few records that are in the sea or in neighbouring vice-counties but assigned to VC104.  All very pleasing – the capability not the result!

No Giant Hogweed

March 11, 2012

Heracleum mantegazzianum (Giant Hogweed) keeps cropping up in reports about invasive species on Skye but there is no record in the vice-county known to the BSBI Database or the NBN Gateway. I have been chasing up every report I can find – even of the nature of “I think so-and-so said they had found it”.  There isn’t any.

Unless you know differently…..


March 8, 2012

Axiophytes are ” ‘worthy plants’ – the species that arouse interest and praise from botanists when they are seen. They are indicators of habitat that is considered important for conservation”.  I have today completed a list for VC 104 as all vice-county recorders have been asked to do for their patch.  It is a somewhat subjective exercise with candidates having to be good habitat indicators as well as being not too rare and not too common.

Anyone interested is welcome to a copy.


March 7, 2012

I spent the weekend at Kindrogan in Perthshire with many other Scottish Vice-county Recorders for BSBI.  We covered the BSBI Distributional Database,  the NBN data-cleansing tool (which I have since used on my entire database to some useful effect), Rare Plant Registers and quite a bit more.

For light relief we went on a tour of the grounds identifying conifers and leafless deciduous trees using John Poland’s Vegetative Key to the British Flora. If nothing else we learnt about different citrus smells produced by conifers.

I left home on Friday morning with a merganser swimming by and a sea eagle overhead, plus this fungus in my lawn:

To be identified…..

On my way through Skye I went to a site where both Hymenophyllum wilsonii and H. tunbrigense grow to see whether I could spot the newly recognised hybrid H. x scopulorum. I found some very intermediate looking fronds but the sori were all well-toothed and I decided they were just H. tunbrigense.  The site on the side of a gorge had suffered major problems over winter with lots of vegetation having slipped down from above:

Hymenophyllum Site