Archive for March, 2013

The 2003 Follow-up Survey

March 30, 2013

Sadly this was undertaken in August so there was little chance of re-finding the most interesting records from the earlier hay meadow survey (mostly orchids). However,  I have extracted 823  records for Skye including four records for two taxa included in the RPR (Epilobium hirsutum and Schedonorus pratensis). Again, I have incorporated them into my database and replaced the relevant RPR distribution map on my website.  (No change for E. hirsutum.) There were also 18 records (16  for Succisa and two for Juncus bufonius) of plants that are not in the RPR but for which I provide maps on my website.  These too have been updated.

Sunset

March 29, 2013

Extraordinary sunset tonight:sunset Cnm 1303 2

sunset Cnm 1303 1

Hay Meadow Survey 1985

March 28, 2013

I have borrowed from SNH a copy of an unpublished NCC  survey that I did not know of until Gwyn Jones told me about it when I launched the Rare Plants Register. From this I have extracted 511 records for Skye including 37 records for 9 taxa included in the RPR. I have incorporated them into my database and replaced the relevant RPR distribution maps on my website.  There were also 19 records (17 of them for Succisa) of plants that are not in the RPR but for which I provide maps on my website.  These too have been updated. Whilst I was at it I added Bolboschoenus maritimus (Sea Club-rush) to this last group of maps.

There is a follow-up survey in 2003 which I have also borrowed and will report back on in due course…….

And another thing…

March 26, 2013

Yesterday I noticed this green moth larva in the garden and posted its picture on iSpot where Chris Brooks told me it is the larva of the Angle Shades moth (Phlogophora meticulosa), which I have recorded a couple of times in the garden in recent years.

Angle Shades Larva

Angle Shades Larva

Catch-up Time

March 26, 2013

Some things I have omitted to say or show:

Six long-tailed tits in Inverarish a few mornings ago.

Some Cardamine pratensis (Cuckooflower) at Brae that has had a hard time:

Cardamine pratensis

Cardamine pratensis

The view SE from Dun Borodale:

View SE from Dun Borodale

View SE from Dun Borodale

I have been looking at the literature for witches’-broom on Pinus sylvestris (Scots Pine), which is quite interesting. Talking of witches’-brooms on conifers in 1899, Borthwick says that “as far as I know the least common is on our own Scots Pine”.  Recent work has shown the presence of  a phytoplamsa – one of a group of prokayrotes that are obligate parasites of plant phloem tissue and transmitting insects that were discovered  just before I went to college to read microbiology, when they were called “mycoplasma-like organisms”.  However, it is not clear that this is the causative agent.

Witches-broom on Scots Pine, Ice and Ferns

March 25, 2013

The Osmunda regalis (Royal Fern) on a sea-cliff near Holoman on Raasay is thriving, though not looking at its best at this time of year:

Osmunda regalis

Osmunda regalis

It was a bit icy in places though we have had no snow and the car registered 5 C at 11 am.

Iced grass

Iced grass

Duck-billed Playmoss

Duck-billed Platymoss

At Brae, Raasay, the Scots Pine had no mite-induced galls but one tree had what appears to be a witches’-broom, which I believe to be very unusual on this species:

Witches'-broom on Scots Pine

Witches’-broom on Scots Pine

The Bridge at Brae

The Bridge at Brae

Ants, Pine Galls, Butcher’s-broom

March 24, 2013

At the HBRG meeting yesterday Murdo launched the Highland Ants Atlas:

Highland Ants Atlas

Highland Ants Atlas

available to download free at the HBRG Atlases Page.  I learnt a number of things from his talk such as the fact that queens can live for over twenty years.

He also showed a gall on Scots Pine caused by a mite, Trisetacus pini:

Gall on Scots Pine

Gall on Scots Pine        M. Macdonald

I have had a look at quite a few Scots Pines this morning on Raasay without spotting this gall.  Perhaps on Skye?

I also checked up on several plants around Raasay House including Ruscus aculeatus (Butcher’s-broom) which was first recorded there in the 1930s.

Ruscus on Raasay

Ruscus on Raasay

However, if it is to survive much longer it is going to have to be rescued from encroaching holly and Rhododendron:

Ruscus under threat

Ruscus under threat

Beyond The Forest

March 17, 2013

The Arish Burn starts from Loch na Mna under Dun Caan, wanders across the moor gaining strength form  tributaries that drain the moor over a wide area , rushes through the forestry plantation (now largely felled) and empties into the Narrows of Raasay just a few metres from our house. Yesterday I walked up the burn as far as part way across the moor and then struck off north to inspect some Diphasiastrum alpinum (Alpine Clubmoss) that I first spotted in 2001. This colony is at an altitude of 280 m, the lowest patch on Raasay and seems to be thriving. An apparently identical patch of habitat at the same altitude less then 200 m away has none.

Diphasiastrum alpinum

Diphasiastrum alpinum

Down by the burn many ferns have overwintered, staying green:

Asplenium viride Green Spleenwort

Asplenium viride       Green Spleenwort

Polystichum aculeatum Hard Shield-fern

Polystichum aculeatum      Hard Shield-fern

On the moor Eriophorum vaginatum (Hare’s-tail Cottongrass) is coming into flower.

Eriophorum vaginatum

Eriophorum vaginatum

The Forest Again

March 15, 2013

I should have said that part of  the motivation for today’s expedition was that I have constructed lists for Raasay by 10 km square of things not seen since before 2000. So today I re-found Ribes nigrum (Black Currant) and Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas Fir). Many of these have not been seen for a very long time but there are quite a few that have slipped past as I have concentrated on Skye, including some more I can do out of season…

Here is a picture of Japanese Larch (on left) and Dunkeld Larch (on right) cones:

Larch cones

Larch cones

Maybe I should go and get some European Larch cones as well and show all three………..

The Forest

March 15, 2013

The possibility of a community buyout of  the forest plantations on Raasay is in the air and folks were over today to talk about it. I am trying to keep my involvement to a minimum as I am, as ever, busy with other things. After a chat about rampant Sitka spruce, restocking policy etc., I went for a wander in the forestry, principally to check whether there is any Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas Fir) still there after the major felling operations of recent years.  There is:

Douglas Fir

Douglas Fir

Douglas Fir cones

Douglas Fir cones

I also checked up on some larch trees and found Larix kaempferi (Japanese Larch) and Larix x marschlinsii (Hybrid or Dunkeld Larch). I was uncertain of these in earlier days and the Raasay records probably need revising. Many larches have been felled but there are still many left.

The clearance has revealed Dun Borodale broch which had been hidden by trees for decades:

Dun Borodale

Dun Borodale

and nearby a Great Spotted Woodpecker was busy hammering a tree. I have only heard woodpeckers on Raasay once for about a week quite a few years ago – they are not common in this part of the world.  Record sent to Skye Birds.