Archive for October, 2012

Horsetail Hybrids

October 29, 2012

My putative  Equisetum x dycei, the hybrid between E. fluviatile (Water Horsetail) and E. palustre (Marsh Horsetail) from Lochan Uisge has been confirmed by Chris Page.  Also two specimens collected during the 2011 BSBI Field Meeting on Skye have been confirmed as  Equisetum x mildeanum, the hybrid between E. pratense (Field Horsetail) and E. sylvaticum (Wood Horsetail). These are the first vice-county records for this hybrid and were collected by Carl Farmer, Sallie Jack and Chris Irvine.

Steve’s Skye Records

October 25, 2012

Steve Terry has sent me well over 2000 records at 1km square resolution or better from Skye in 2012.  As well as many additional records for introduced plants, Steve has an eye for orchids and their hybrids and also trees – obviously not suffering from the nose-on-ground problem that I have, which allows me to walk under the same tree many times without recording it.

A few highlights:

  • The first localised record for Gentianella campestris (Field Gentian) in NG52
  • The first record since 1988 for Lycopodium clavatum (Stag’s-horn Clubmoss) in NG52
  • The first localised records for Symphytum x uplandicum (Russian Comfrey) in NG52 and NG62

Symphytum x uplandicum is perhaps more common than earlier records suggest – or else it is spreading:

Black dots are tetrad records from 2000 on

Raasay Weeds

October 18, 2012

I was invited to have a look at some ground at Clachan that had been turned over and left for a while as some potentially interesting plants had appeared.

It turned out to be very rewarding with Persicaria lapathifolia (Pale Persicaria) complete with diagnostic yellow glands on the peduncles, a first for Raasay.  Also there was a single plant of  Atriplex patula (Common Orache) which made only the second reliable record for Raasay, the previous one being unlocalised in the south of Raasay in 1957.  Earlier records refer to beaches and probably arose from confusion with other oraches.

This is the only Raasay site for Potentilla reptans (Creeping Cinquefoil) and Scrophularia auriculata (Water Figwort) (both first recorded in 1993) and both are still present.

Additionally there were weeds that are common in much of the British Isles but not here, such as Lamium purpureum (Red Dead-nettle), Capsella bursa-pastoris (Shepherd’s-purse), Sinapis arvensis (Charlock) and Chenopdium album (Fat-hen).

We had a fairly hard frost a couple of days ago and there was snow on the tops of the Skye hills.  However, a small tortoiseshell was active a few days ago and many plants are still determinable – with occasional flowers still showing.

Added later: Mike Wilcox has confirmed the Persicaria lapathifolia from tepal venation:

P. lapathifolia tepal     Photo: M Wilcox

P. maculosa tepal    Photo: M Wilcox

Later still!: Clarification from MW:(outer tepals); 3 veins, unbranched along their length, with 2 shorter distinctly turned back branches at each tip = lapathifolia, – 3 veins, at least one or more branched along their length, variously branched at the tip = maculosa..


October 12, 2012

The Utricularia intermedia agg. near Loch Cùil na Creige was determined by Sarah Longrigg as U. stygia (Nordic Bladderwort) – as all specimens I have taken so far have been. During the NCC Freshwater Lochs Survey in 1989, twelve records were made on Skye for U. ochroleuca (Pale Bladderwort), all determined by P. Taylor. John Day, BSBI Utricularia referee, says: “I think all the P. Taylor records for U. ochroleuca were incorrectly named & we put them down to U. intermedia agg. in the database. Although Taylor’s world monograph on the genus was published  in 1989, work by Thor in Scandinavia resulted in an update of the U. intermedia aggregate with his final resolution appearing with the description of U. stygia in 1988. I know Taylor was generally using U. ochroleuca for much of the Scottish material before Thor’s publication and he subsequently accepted Thor’s work. I think Taylor was still using old names in 1989.”

However, there are quite a lot of fairly recent records for U. ochroleuca (as well as U. stygia) in the rest of NW Scotland.

The poplar from Kibride has been determined as P. balsamifera x trichocarpa (Hybrid Balsam Poplar) by Matt Parrat and Richard Jinks.

I put my moth trap out rather late on Sunday night and then forgot it until Monday afternoon.  This may explain why there were only two moths in it by the time I checked it out:

Red-line Quaker

Small Wainscot

though missing this species’ usual dark longitudinal lines.

There was also a Silver Y, quite a large day-flying moth, in the garden a few days ago. As usual all moth i.d.s are by Brian Neath.


October 8, 2012

Finding Fly Agaric in NG54 proved straightforward:

Amanita muscaria near Brae. Raasay

though I only spotted three.  There were many other fine fungi as well, such as:

Lactarius vallerius?

Same as above

Lactarius sp.?

Same as above

??? on Betula pubescens (Downy Birch)

It was good to spot Veronica montana (Wood Speedwell) and Carex laevigata (Smooth-stalked Sedge), neither of which is common hereabouts.


October 6, 2012

I recently became aware of two 1990 records on Raasay of Hymenophyllum tunbrigense (Tunbridge Filmy-fern) from Ben Averis. Each was near a site known to me, but some way from it.  One was near Eyre and today I went to try and find it.  However, a six-figure grid reference wasn’t enough on this occasion. I may try again.  I did add six new 1 km square records to the area including one for Carex remota (Remote Sedge) and two for Fraxinus excelsior (Ash) as I found quite a few saplings; this is an area of Raasay where ash has not been recorded before.

It is the turn of time of year for fungal fruiting bodies and there were lots of Amanita muscaria (Fly Agaric), mostly well eaten – Slugs on drugs?

Fly Agaric

and a fine specimen of Piptoporus betulinus (Birch Polypore) – thanks to Dave Genney for the i.d.

Biirch Polypore

The NBN Gateway has no records for Fly Agaric on Raasay, indeed only one for the whole vice-county, but it is not uncommon in  native woodland on Raasay  – I have known it for decades. Maybe I had better head a little north and record it in NG54 as well as NG53….

Allt Fearna and Loch Cuil na Creige

October 4, 2012

Not far from Strollamus, the Allt Fearna empties into the sea.  A short distance across the water is Scalpay:

Scalpay through the Old Road Bridge

The tetrad with its northern edge a little to the south of the estuary had few previous records, but some that were indicative of some richness along the Allt Fearna such as Galium odoratum (Woodruff), Polystichum aculeatum (Hard Shield-fern) and Prunus padus (Bird Cherry).  The gorge was something of a challenge:

Obstacle 1

and the river was flowing quite fast after recent rains.

Obstacle 2

but the river was quite good botanically with Asplenium viride (Green Spleenwort) and Bromopsis ramosa (Hairy-brome ) as well as those advertised above.  It was a beautiful day for a while and I lunched in sunshine beside the stream.  The hailstorm at about 2pm was less welcome, especially as I was standing in completely open ground in the middle of a bog.  The bog rewarded me with Utricularia intermedia agg. (Intermediate Bladderwort aggregate – specimen sent for further determination), Rhynchospora alba (White Beak-sedge) in profusion and Carex limosa (Bog-sedge), leaving me wondering what other goodies might be found earlier in the season.

The other main reason for heading to this tetrad was to look for Subularia aquatica (Awlwort) in Loch Cùil na Creige where it had been recorded in October 1973 – and there it was in small numbers.

Earlier in the day on my way back from Kyle (dentist again) I had the dubious pleasure of adding Cortaderia richardii (Early Pampas-grass) to a new 10km square but failed in a quick look for a 1985-86 record for Hesperis matronalis (Dame’s-violet).


October 4, 2012

We have been away for a couple of weeks.  It was still summer in Kent and we sat outside a café in Rochester in shirtsleeves thinking we should be paying in Euros.

Coming back home, autumn has set in:

Autumn on the Moor

The swallows have gone and the first few days since our return have been wet and windy.