Archive for July, 2013

The Storr Part 1

July 30, 2013

Today I took a trip to the top of the Storr. I was going to head farther over to the NW but got stuck in a single 1 km square as it was so rich. I acquired some specimens for the RBGE DNA bar-coding project and after MUCH searching re-found Cerastium nigrescens (Arctic Mouse-ear), last recorded on the Trotternish Ridge twenty years ago. Its apparent absence has been giving the Trotternish Ridge SSSI an unfavourable report for many a year.

Cerastium nigescens -sadly no flowers.

Cerastium nigescens – sadly no flowers.

More in a day or two after a trip to Inverness for car & van services.

Refreshing Raasay Records

July 29, 2013

As I have been concentrating on the rest of the vice-county, Raasay has been a bit neglected so today I set out to refresh a few records that have not been recorded in the 10 km square NG53 on Raasay since before 2000.  There aren’t that many and a few trips should sort most of them (apart from some very old records that I have never re-found). Today involved  a trip to the area west of Eyre at the southern tip of the island and I managed to re-find Centunculus minimus (Chaffweed), Eleocharis palustris (Common Spike-rush)(!) and  Eriphorum latifolium (Broad-leaved Cottongrass). Some sights from the day:

Centunculus minimus - note the apple-like fruits

Centunculus minimus – note the apple-like fruits

Centunculus en masse

Fast-flowing burn - with Salix aurita canopy

Fast-flowing burn – with Salix aurita canopy

Senior Rose

Senior Rose

Dead porpoise

Dead porpoise

More Shrews, No Bees

July 28, 2013

Calum & Sandra showed me another water shrew – in their garden, perhaps brought in by a cat and found to be not to its taste. There was also a common shrew missing its head.

There have been Red Admirals and Meadow Browns about in the past few days but whilst the Cotoneaster simonsii (Himalayan Cotoneaster) has been covered in wasps and bumble and carder bees are everywhere, I have not seen a single honey bee on Raasay this year. It may be that the only hives remaining on the island have fallen into disuse as the owner is not well.

House Guests

July 25, 2013

Yesterday we had a queen carder bee that looks to me like Bombus muscorum (Moss Carder-bee) but cannot definitely be said not to be Bombus pascuorum (Common Carder-bee):

Queen Carder

Queen Carder

and a Speckled Wood which we took outside:

Speckled Wood and Daughter's Finger

Speckled Wood and Daughter’s Finger

Trapped Moths

July 24, 2013

I put the trap out on Monday night and caught about 40 moths. Several escaped before I could take their pictures as it was warm and they were lively. However, it was a good haul with several species that had not appeared in the moth trap before.  I managed to identify a few myself but Brian did the lot and came up with the following species list: Lempke’s Gold Spot, Silver-ground Carpet, Treble-bar, Burnished Brass, Brimstone, Light Emerald, Middle-barred Minor, Smoky Wainscot, Snout, Wormwood Pug, Flame Shoulder, Dark Arches, Knot Grass, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Large Yellow Underwing, White Ermine, Double Square-spot, Green Carpet, Dotted Clay, Flame Carpet, Purple Clay and Antler.

Lempke's Gold Spot

Lempke’s Gold Spot

Burnished Brass

Burnished Brass

Brimstone

Brimstone

Purple Clay

Purple Clay

Smoky Wainscot

Smoky Wainscot

Dragons, Sedges and a Sika Deer on Raasay

July 18, 2013

SWT’s Dragonfly Walk on Tuesday took place in Waternish and even though the weather was not good for flying dragons, we did see flying Common Blue Damselflies and by guddling in lochs and pools the larvae of three other species – Common Hawker, Four-spotted Chaser and Large Red Damselfly.  Thanks Babs for taking the time to lead it.  And I made some plant and slug records!

Arion ater

Arion ater: The Great Black Slug

I ran Sedge Day on Raasay on Wednesday which seemed to go well with 10 attendees plus myself.

Sedge Day

Sedge Day

Some folks left with an awareness of sedges that they didn’t have before and some left feeling able to identify all the common sedges on Skye & Raasay:

Sedges to Identify

Sedges to Identify

A key I had created worked better in the field than in the room because colours e.g. blue-green versus green were less apparent indoors.  In general the colour issue was a bit of a problem but nonetheless with a bit of help most folks were able to identify the 14 true sedges in front of them.

While we were  out in the field near Eyre Judith is sure that she saw a Sika Deer. Another new mammal record for Raasay!  By the time I saw it, it was too far away for me to be sure. It is known on Skye towards the Bridge.

Hybrid Orchids & Royal Fern

July 14, 2013

Deirdre has sent this image of what we have agreed to be Dactylorhiza x venusta (D. fuchsii (Common Spotted-orchid) x purpurella (Northern Marsh-orchid)).  We have had a number of records in recent years but not so many as for D. x formosa (D. maculata x purpurella).  However, the latter is usually very large and striking and so catches the eye more readily.

Dactylorhiza x venusta

Dactylorhiza x venusta Photo: D Peppé

Terry , however, has us baffled by this oddity from his croft:

Unknown hybrid                       Photo: T. Swainbank

Meanwhile, Jenny has found Osmunda regalis (Royal fern) near Kyleakin:

Osmunda regalis Photo: J. Grant

Osmunda regalis      Photo: J. Grant

Suisnish & Càrn Dearg, Skye

July 13, 2013

Another fine day south of Torrrin, this time concentrating on basalt (or something volcanic in that line) rather than limestone.  Roger, Pat, James and I explored part of Loch an Leòid and most of Càrn Dearg today with very useful botanical results as well as otter records plus various amphibians and insects.

Botanically I was particularly hoping to re-find old records for Sorbus rupicola (Rock Whitebeam) and Carlina vulgaris (Carline Thistle), both of which we found readily enough, the latter in large numbers.

Sorbus rupicola

Sorbus rupicola

Sorbus rupicola, Plumber

Sorbus rupicola, Plumber

Carlina vulgaris

Carlina vulgaris

It was also very pleasing to see Orobanche alba (Thyme Broomrape) at  a new site as recent records in the south of Skye are very thin i.e. non-existent post-1999 until today. We saw only one.

Also good to see were several flowering/fruiting specimens of Neottia cordata (Lesser Twayblade) under the heather near the loch:

Neottia cordata  Photo: R. Cottis

Neottia cordata      Photo: R. Cottis

:

Skye Botany Group – First Meeting

July 12, 2013

We treated ourselves to a limestone fix and explored the tetrad that includes Camas Malag, to the south of Torrin. The weather was kind, the company convivial and nine of us recorded the flora of the area, coming up with a total of 217 taxa on the day, 58 of which were new to the tetrad and one of those (Vaccinium vitis-idaea, Cowberry) was new to the 10 km square.

Limestone Country

Limestone Country

We found Samolus valerandi (Brookweed) at the mouth of the Allt nan Leac where it had previously been recorded from 1968 to 1989. This is one of only three localised records in the vice-county, one of which still needs to be re-found.

I didn’t take many photos as I was too busy manning the recording card, but I enjoyed this so much that I had to snap it:

Not-so-early-purple orchid

Not-so-early-purple orchid

What with an adder, red-throated divers and greenshank to add to the fun, most folks seem to have had a pretty good day. Planning for an August trip is in hand.

Dunvegan & Edinbane areas

July 12, 2013

I stopped south of  Dunvegan to look at some very fine Dactylorhiza purpurella (Northern Marsh-orchid) by the roadside and then on the road out of Dunvegan towards Portree I spotted a clump of enormous Dactylorhiza x formosa (D. maculata (Heath-spotted Orchid) x purpurella  (Northern Marsh-orchid) ):

Dactylorhiza x formosa

Dactylorhiza x formosa

On to an unrecorded tetrad to the east of Edinbane.  Time was limited and the walk in became very uninspiring and full of Molinia, as was much of the target tetrad. However, there was a large, more interesting-looking swamp which had Scutellaria minor (Lesser Skullcap) and Veronica scutellata (Marsh Speedwell).  The greatest excitement was when a fine-looking fox shot out of the heather about three metres from me.

On another brief stop I spotted a Dark-green Fritillary and managed to get some reasonable images (in terms of identification use rather than photographic art):

Dark-green Fritillary

Dark-green Fritillary

Dark-green Fritillary

Dark-green Fritillary