Òigh-sgeir (in Scots Gaelic, Hyskeir in Norse) lies 10 km southwest of Canna and 14 km west of Rum and is composed entirely of columnar basalt.



On Thursday a group of us went to see what we could see courtesy of Paul & Becky Smith who run excellent bunkhouses and self-catering at Torrin as well as a boat .

Hyskeir Lighthouse was established in 1904. The 39 m high building marks the southern end of the Minch, and was made automatic in 1996:IMG_2470a

Gwyn and I recorded 72 plant species many of which had been recorded in the 1930s but quite a few hadn’t – but there again we did not find quite a few of the species recorded all that time ago.  I was surprised to find Carex arenaria (Sand Sedge) all over the place, despite there being a previous record for it.  Also, Lemna minor  (Common Duckweed) is very widespread.

Duckweed Bath

Duckweed Bath

The best find botanically was two plants of Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima (Sea Beet). Until yesterday, recent records of this plant in the vice-county amount to one ancient plant on Muck and three on Canna.

Beta vulgaris Non-flowering plant

Beta vulgaris Non-flowering plant

Beta vulgaris Flowering/fruiting

Beta vulgaris       Flowering/fruiting

There was quite a bit of Bolboschoenus maritimus (Sea Club-rush) and Lycopus europaeus (Gypsywort), all in all a limited but fascinating assemblage.

The birders were happy with Purple Sandpipers, a storm petrel on the way back, and a close encounter with many friendly bonxies one taking a dog biscuit from Gwyn’s hand:

Great Skua

Great Skua

However, the day overall went to the big beasts of the sea – dozens of Basking Sharks – we stayed in a group of about 15 for a very long time

Basking Sharks  Photo R. Cottis

Basking Sharks    Photo R. Cottis

We also had a close encounter with about 30 common dolphins, saw quite a few common porpoises and had four Minke Whale sightings.

The weather was sunny and we had no midges, a perfect day out.

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