Archive for September, 2012

Kyleakin Forestry

September 12, 2012

After a visit to the dentist I spent a couple of hours in the forestry area SW of Kyleakin.  There were a couple of small lochs that hadn’t been recorded since 1989 and whilst I have made a few records along the road in the past, there were many common species not recorded for this tetrad including my marker plant, Succisa pratensis (Devil’s-bit Scabious).  The lochs had most of the usual suspects though I missed a few things found before – Glyceria fluitans (Floating Sweet-grass), Lobelia dortmanna (Water Lobelia) and Myriophyllum alterniflorum (Alternate Water-milfoil).  But there again I added Carex limosa (Bog-sedge) and not far away, Pinguicula lusitanica (Pale Butterwort) still in flower.

Pinguicula lusitanica

There were several planted trees that are found locally in this sort of location including Acer platanoides (Norway Maple), Alnus incana (Grey Alder), and X Cuprocyparis leylandii (Leyland Cypress).  There was a single plant of Barbarea intermedia (Medium-flowered Winter-cress)  and over thirty plants of Scrophularia auriculata (Water Figwort) on the track.  The figwort has a stronghold in the Dunvegan area but otherwise the only recent records are from a garden on Raasay and emerging from imported roadside soil near Loch Cill Chriosd.

The lochs didn’t seem to be particularly full but some of the trees were looking a little damp:

Pinus contorta var aquaticus (joke)

Salix aurita var aquaticus (likewise)

At home the next day this fine red-sided caterpillar was identified by Brian as the larva of the Knot Grass moth (Acronicta rumicis):

Knot Grass

More moths

September 10, 2012

The moth trap caught well over 50 moths the night before last and a wasp, another burying beetle, a few craneflies and too many midges.  Species included Rosy Rustic, Black Rustic, Square-spot Rustic, Large Yellow Underwing, Crescent, Lesser Yellow Underwing, Pink-barred Sallow, Lunar Underwing. Brian Neath who kindly identified them, says “This is the first record of Lunar Underwing on Skye since 1996 (!) and there are only 2 post-2000 records of Pink-barred Sallow, both from Holoman House, Raasay.”

Pink-barred Sallow

Lunar Underwing

Salvia pratensis on Sanday (Canna)

September 6, 2012

Michael Usher has been sent an image of Salvia pratensis (Meadow Clary) growing on Sanday:

Salvia pratensis on Sanday

This is a long way from areas where it is native and so must be a garden escape or the result of wild flower seed being scattered or some similar mode of introduction.

Skye Update

September 6, 2012

Hilary Brown reports orchids from a June visit including Pseudorchis albida (Small-white Orchid) near Portree in an area where it was first and last recorded in 2003.

Matt Parratt says about  the Broadford poplar: “the characters it displays are consistent with Populus trichocarpa. There are now many cultivars of this species, and as many of the hybrid with P. balsamifera. In the absence of fruit capsules or catkins it isn’t possible to take the ID any further, though it may be worth keeping an eye out for catkins next spring.”

The Kilbride poplar, he says, “is almost certainly another balsam poplar” but a specimen will be sent for further study.

Steve has found another new site for Parnassia near Kilbride, in a different 10km square but so far no Dryas. Yesterday I found Parnassia near Rubha Garbhaig, Staffin, close to an old record but failed to find Dryas on Leac nan Fionn near the Quirang. This would be worth another try some time.

I also had a look at  Gwyn’s Glebionis segetum (Corn Marigold) up Staffin way which is in a patch of oats – presumably dormant seed that has been stirred into life (the marigold, not the oats).

Glebionis segetum

Between the two (Parnassia site and Glebionis site) I spotted Impatiens glandulifera (Himalayan Balsam)  – another 10km square where it has become established.

Most of yesterday was spent near Leac nan Fionn:

Leac nan Fionn, southern end

Crucifers included Arabidopsis petraea (Northern Rock-cress) and Draba incana (Hoary Whitlowgrass), saxifrages present were Saxifraga aizoides (Yellow), hypnoides (Mossy), oppositifolia (Purple) and stellaris (Starry).  Campions present were Silene acaulis (Moss Campion), dioica (Red), flos-cuculi (Ragged-Robin) and uniflora (Sea). Other notables included Juncus triglumis (Three-flowered Rush) in an almost vertical bog, Dryopteris oreades (Mountain Male-fern), Epilobium alsinifolium (Chickweed Willowherb) and Gentianella campestris (Field Gentian).

It was still possible to find late-flowering individuals:

Arabidopsis petraea

Silene acaulis

We have had quite a bit of rain recently but some of the lochs are still very low:

Loch Hasco

with water plant stranded on the shore:

Sparganium angustifolium

Glyceria fluitans

However, smaller lochs were looking OK:

Unnamed Lochan with Sparganium angustifoilium

This is Fir Bhreugach:

Fir Bhreugach


September 3, 2012

An hour to spare on the way to the Spa Pavilion at Strathpeffer for a concert by the Highland Chamber Orchestra was used to make a quick dash to Kilbride to have a look at a poplar found by Steve Terry:

Populus sp.

It appears to be a Balsam Poplar or a hybrid involving a Balsam Poplar but I am seeking expert assistance.

On the way, I tried to get a specimen of Aphanes for Mike Wilcox but could not find any where I had seen it four years ago. I suspect all Aphanes in the vice-county are A. australis (Slender Parsley-piert).

There is a record of Dryas octopetala from Kilbride and I had a small chance of finding that in the remaining time available, but failed. There is also a record of it in this 10km square at Cnoc Slapin and Steve has kindly agreed to look for that.  This is one of only two 10km squares in the vice-county where Dryas has been recorded that has no record for it post-1999. The other is way up north and I may get there later this week.

Quarry Update

September 3, 2012

The Euphorbia has been identified by Timothy Walker (BSBI Euphorbia referee) as E. dulcis ‘Chameleon’.  I have the normal green type in several locations near Kyleakin and in one spot in Portree but this purple variant is a first for the vice-county.

Euphorbia dulcis ‘Chameleon’

The saxifrage, Mike Wilcox and I have agreed is Saxifraga x polita (S. spathularis x hirsuta, False Londonpride).

This only leaves unidentified the large-trunked plant with currant-like leaves.  Several folks have suggested that it is a Ribes despite the size of the trunks, but I think this one will have to wait until the Spring and hope for flowers.  Sending photos to Eric Clement was a waste of time and money.

I was concerned that the sedge I took to be C. laevigata (Smooth-stalked Sedge) just might be Carex pendula (Pendulous Sedge). I sent a bit to Mike Porter who also havered between these two.


He is going to grow on the specimen I sent him.  If I can beat the sheep to the inflorescences next year I may beat him to it too. I only know one place on Skye where there is C. pendula and that happens to be where I suspect all these aliens came from. Clue dumped in quarry:

August Moths

September 1, 2012

My moth trap of 19th August caught 25 moths including Large Yellow Underwing ,Green Carpet, Flame Carpet, Dotted Clay, Rosy Rustic, True Lover’s Knot, Square-spot Rustic and Common Rustic.

Rosy Rustic

Square-spot Rustic

Ben Edra

September 1, 2012

Thursday saw me on the Trotternish Ridge including Ben Edra.  I parked in Fairy Glen and walked eastwards to the Ridge which is an easy approach, no steep climbs at all.  I was able to complete a circle taking in Beinn Fhuar, Beinn an Laoigh and the Trotternish Ridge from Bealach Chaiplin to Bealach Amadal to Beinn Mheadhonach to Bealach  a’Mhòramhain to Beinn Edra and back across country to Fairy Glen.

The tetrad including Beinn Fhuar and the western parts of Beinn an Laoigh had no previous records but was not without interest. Species found included Diphasiastrum alpinum (Alpine Clubmoss), Hymenophyllum wilsonii (Wilson’s Filmy-fern) and Saxifraga stellaris (Starry Saxifrage).

Most things of interest that are supposed to be in this stretch of the Ridge were in rude health: Diphasiastrum alpinum (Alpine Clubmoss), Epilobium alsinifolium (Chickweed Willowherb), Gnaphalium supinum (Dwarf Cudweed) – including in a new tetrad, Juncus triglumis (Three-flowered Rush), Koenigia islandica (Iceland-purslane), Luzula spicata (Spiked Wood-Rush), Minuartia sedoides (Cyphel), Oxyria digyna (Mountain Sorrel), Persicaria vivipara (Alpine Bistort) and Salix herbacea (Dwarf Willow). I only spotted one plant of the rare Juncus biglumis (Two-flowered Rush) but Sibbaldia procumbens (Sibbaldia) was much more common than records might have suggested.


Though it is supposed to flower in July and August, I have never seen evidence of Sibbaldia flowering on Skye. However, it must do some years…

On the Salix herbacea there were galls caused by the sawfly Pontania herbaceae:

Gall from Salix herbacea

There are only five 10km square records for this on the NBN Gateway one of which is the square directly to the south of where I found it this time, a 2004 record by Carl Farmer.

The views were acceptable:

Cleat and the Quirang

I also found a fox’s paw, presumably brought to the top of the ridge by a scavenger:

Fox paw

I suspect the animal may have been shot as I have seen evidence of such things in this part of Skye before. The end result is that SNH has recently had to sanction a rabbit extermination scheme through shooting because of erosion around the Storr; a decent fox population would have made this unnecessary.

Finally, I know I have shown a picture not so long ago but I can’t resist another of Koenigia, whose only locations in the British Isles are Skye and Mull:

Koenigia islandica