Archive for May, 2013

River Haultin, Lòn Mòr, River Romesdal – more thoughts

May 30, 2013

Having put the records into the database I see that tetrad species numbers are NG45K 139 (previously 5), NG45L 143 (previously 0) and NG45M 103  (previously 0).  The last total is lower because I was running out of time and energy and didn’t visit the higher ground. All in all, a useful contribution to the war effort. Had I stayed in one tetrad I would probably only have achieved half the number of records. It is still early in the year and I passed through ground that in a month will probably be filled with orchids.

This trip saw my first records this year for Drosera (Sundews), though Steve Terry beat me to this by a few days, Carex dioica (Dioecious Sedge) and Carex pilulifera (Pill Sedge) as things are finally getting big enough to recognise.

The Wych Elms (Ulmus glabra) were nice:

Elm by waterfall

Elm by waterfall

Elm in gorge

Elm in gorge

and I made the first record in the ten-kilometre square (NG45) for Chamerion angustifolium (Rosebay Willowherb)!

Finally, Beinn Chaercaill looking fine (Ben Dearg behind):

Beinn Chaercaill

Beinn Chaercaill

River Haultin, Lòn Mòr, River Romesdal

May 29, 2013

An interesting day starting along the River Haultin in a tetrad with five species recorded previously. Sadly I failed to find the most interesting ones: Anagallis tenella (Bog Pimpernel) and Lycopodium clavatum (Stag’s-horn Clubmoss). However, there was plenty of rich ground and, unusually in this part of the world, a few of the Orchis mascula (Early-purple Orchid) had spotted leaves:

Spotty Orchis mascula

Spotty Orchis mascula

There were certainly plenty of these orchids especially on the side of the Lòn Ach ‘an Reithean:

Orchis en masse(cula)

Orchis en masse(cula)

The Trollius europaeus (Globeflower) was nearly in flower:

Globeflower in bud

Globeflower in bud

I moved north to the next tetrad which had one record in the database but on inspection this turned out to be an erroneous grid reference and so should have appeared white on the density map.  Interesting species in this tetrad included Alchemilla alpina (Alpine Lady’s-mantle) at 115m, Diphasiastrum alpinum (Alpine Clubmoss) on Beinn an Righ, Equisetum pratense (Shady Horsetail) and Salix purpurea (Purple Willow).

Salix purpurea

Salix purpurea

I tried to take a photo of the E. pratense because at this early time of the year young E. sylvaticum can look superficially similar – before it forms branches. However, the sheath teeth on the main stem are very different.  Sadly, I failed to get an adequate picture to show this.

Moving north again, the next tetrad including part of the River Romesdal had no records at all, not even errors.  The Romesdal rises high in the Trotternish Ridge so it was no surprise to find  Alchemilla alpina (Alpine Lady’s-mantle), Saxifraga aizoides (Yellow Saxifrage), S. hypnoides (Mossy Saxifrage) and S. stellaris (Starry Saxifrage), though the last of these was in a damp patch well up the hill away from the river as well as by it.

Saxifraga hypnoides

Saxifraga hypnoides

During the day I saw several Green Hairstreak butterflies (Callophrys rubi). This picture is from Raasay some years ago:

Green Hairstreak

Green Hairstreak

and many Green-veined Whites (Pieris napi). I like the way one folds its wings around its mate:

Green-veined Whites

Green-veined Whites

Narrow-leaved Vetch on Raasay

May 28, 2013

Whilst walking to the ferry the other day I noticed a well-developed plant of Vicia sativa subsp. nigra (Narrow-leaved Vetch).

Vicia sativa subsp. nigra

Vicia sativa subsp. nigra

To be clear that it is this subspecies one needs to check that the flowers are concolorous i.e. the standard is the same colour as the wings, and, whilst not obvious from the image, that the lower leaves are very different from the upper leaves (“heterophyllous”).

This plant is Locally Scarce in Vice-county 104 and this is the third record for Raasay. It is close to a 1930s record but seems likely to have been introduced with soil during ferry terminal construction. Alternatively it might have come from long-dormant seed disturbed during these operations.

Tetrad Bashing

May 27, 2013

As well as the seashore I was able to visit the small amount of land in tetrad NG25C, part of Lampay.  I recorded 30 species including lots of Ligusticum scoticum (Scot’s Lovage) in this previously unrecorded tetrad.  I also toured Lovaig Bay which had some quite rich cliffs though I failed to re-find old records of Saxifraga hypnoides (Mossy Saxifrage) or Draba incana (Hoary Whitlowgrass).

Lovaig Bay

Lovaig Bay

Steve Terry has been of another of the white squares on my tetrad map, the one in Sleat, and found over 50 species including Drosera anglica (Great Sundew),  Hymenophyllum wilsonii (Wilson’s Filmy-fern) and Nitella opaca (Dark Stonewort).

Nitella opaca

Nitella opaca         Photo S. Terry

Seashore Trip

May 27, 2013

The joint SWT/SLEF/Highland Seashore Project trip to Lampay north of Dunvegan took place on Saturday.  It was a good low tide following the previous night’s full moon and we found lots of interesting species at low water including Hairy Crab and Risso’s Crab:

Risso's Crab

Risso’s Crab   (Xantho pilipes)

It was a pity more folks didn’t turn out.

Charting Records

May 24, 2013

Another thing you can do from the DDB – or from MapMate – plus a small amount of work on Excel – is to chart frequencies e.g.

Taxa per tetrad

I had to add the 45 tetrads with no records but otherwise this is very simple to do. The outliers are Rum including many records from Kinloch Castle grounds and Raasay including Raasay House grounds. It just shows how human activity increases biodiversity.

Mapping Records

May 24, 2013

The BSBI Distributional Database has many useful attributes.  For example:

Records in DDB May 2013

Records in DDB May 2013

Obviously this is a snapshot before Sunday when I sorted that vertical strip of three white tetrads in the middle of Skye. The database contains many, many duplicates and some records appear half a dozen times, so the actual numbers of records as shown are fairly meaningless, but the overall picture of tetrads with few or many records is useful.

Glenmore to Crossal

May 20, 2013

On Sunday I became a grandfather again, with very limited effort on my part.  In fact I was in the middle of Skye walking from Glenmore to Crossal through three tetrads with zero records.  Amusingly, while I was away I was sent a chart for the whole of Scotland  illustrating tetrad numbers by colour codes – the darker the more records.  The three tetrads I was walking through are shown as a white vertical strip:zero tetrads

A look at the map had suggested that Lon na Steill near Glenmore was likely to be the most interesting and so it proved. I contemplated this water bubbling out of the ground as a drinking fountain but with sheep around I decided against it:IMG_1782aThe gorge of the burn had Saxifraga hypnoides (Mossy Saxifrage) which is new to the 10 km square and a red moss that Nick Hodgetts went to see later and says is Bryum pallens:

Bryum weigelii (?)

Bryum pallens

Up above, Stroc-bheinn was uninteresting but had good views:

Stroc-bheinn

Stroc-bheinn

Most of the rest of the journey was through fairly dull with lots of burned moor and other Molinia-dominated areas.  However, I found a new site for Equisetum pratense (Shady Horsetail) – a plant new to the 10 km square, Neottia cordata (Lesser Twayblade) and quite a lot of Vaccinium vitis-idaea (Cowberry).

Loch Dearg was not looking particularly red (dearg) but made a good view with snow on the Cuillin Hills behind:

Loch Dearg

Loch Dearg

and I am wondering what inhabits this hole:

IMG_1787aThe small yellow item by the hole is my GPS device.

Young Horsetails

May 20, 2013

We have two horsetails that have separate fertile cone-bearing shoots that are brownish and unbranched.  Equisetum telmateia (Great Horsetail) was looking like this on Friday:

Fertile (1)

Fertile (1)

Fertile 2

Fertile 2

The fertile shoots are also present now:

Sterile

Sterile

Equisetum arvense (Field Horsetail) looks like this:

Sterile shoots

Fertile shoots

Young Ferns

May 20, 2013

Young ferns can be very difficult to determine but even early in the year, some are easy such as Dryopteris affinis (Scaly Male-fern):

Dryopteris affinis agg.

Dryopteris affinis agg.

and Oreopteris limbosperma (Lemon-scented Fern) with its long white hairs:

Oreopteris limbosperma

Oreopteris limbosperma