Archive for April, 2015

Wednesday | Portree | Short Talks on Birds, Moths, Orchid, Hazel Gloves, Plants

April 26, 2015

Wednesday, 29th April 2015 at 7.30 pm at Tigh na Sgire, Portree.

First there is a short AGM of the SWT Skye Group but then there will be refreshments and presentations on a range of subjects such as :

WATCH Group Activities Niki Maclean

Bird Highlights of 2014  Bob McMillan

Moths of Ard Dorch Terry Swainbank

Life Cycle of a Lesser Butterfly Orchid  Terry Swainbank

Hazel Gloves Fungus  Roger Cottis

Fladda-chùain  (James Merryweather) Given by Roger Cottis

Members’ Photos

Recent Botanical Matters Stephen Bungard

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(All images by the speakers except the saxifrage by Gordon Rothero.)

Skye Moths on Facebook

April 26, 2015

Alison has created a Facebook page “Skye Moths” and has been putting lots of excellent images of moths from Lower Milovaig and elsewhere on it since last December.

Skye Moths


April 24, 2015

Yesterday I took to an area of the limestone near Suardal. It is still too early for many plants but I recorded over 100 taxa in one tetrad including seven that were new – mostly not noteworthy but in a tetrad with a previous 909 records of 237 taxa, something of a surprise. Partly this was because I found a wooded area with cliffs that I think had not been recorded before.

One addition was Equisetum arvense (Field Horsetail) from a couple of very wet areas where I suspect later in the season a casual glance would not have sorted out the vegetative material from Equisetum palustre (Marsh Horsetail).

Fertile Stem of Equisetum arvense

Fertile Stem of Equisetum arvense

I have occasionally worried that in early years I may have over-recorded this, having determined vegetative stems – now the reverse seems more likely.

Some plants in flower:

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In most cases these are early examples – most individuals of these species are not yet in flower here.

From a distance this lichen-covered rock had me thinking it was a football nestling in the heather:

Lichened rock

I spent the day accompanied by cuckoos. There was a mass influx about a week ago. I also had small numbers of Golden Plover, Lapwing, Snipe and Skylark – typical Skye avifauna!


April 24, 2015

The Royal Horticultural Society, not a body I usually deal with, has asked for leaf samples of Gunnera where it is found in the wild. Apparently there are hybrids about. My current distribution map looks like this:


If you know of any more out there, please let me know. It will be good to know for sure what these plants are – which should be clear after the DNA analysis planned.

Patterns of Flora | Mapping Seven Raasay Habitats Launch Weekend

April 22, 2015

As I mentioned before, I have been working with Frances Priest on this project in conjunction with Atlas Arts and Raasay House. Here is the latest update about the launch:



Recording Units and Common Plants

April 12, 2015

I have put some notes on my website (under Recording & Resources) about Recording Units and Common Plants which are likely to be of interest to rather few of my readers but at least I know where to find them (the notes, not the readers). If nothing else it might inspire someone to re-find Eleocharis palustris (Common Spike-rush) in NG52 – there are records for it in 8 tetrads before 2000 and I am sure it is still widespread there in lochs and pools.

Good hectad coverage is what is needed for Atlas 2020. In VC 104 it is already looking pretty good but being on the look-out for missing taxa always helps.

Anemone Cups

April 12, 2015

John sent me a picture of Anemone Cups (Sclerotinia tuberosa or Dumontinia tuberosa) which grows in association with wood anemone as something that could be looked out for on Skye.

Anemone Cups

Anemone Cups  (Bottom right)                                                                                                             Photo: J Hawell

He says that it can easily be overlooked but if one is alert to the possibility of finding it, one might just be lucky. It seems to weaken the anemone where it is growing thus, in his experience, the fungi appear to grow at the edges / around the anemone, not hidden under the leaves of the anemone.

On the NBN Gateway the nearest record is from 1987 near Tobermory on Mull in NM45, which is not very far away. NBN maps of fungi are not very up to date, so I also checked The Fungal Records Database of Britain & Ireland and that does not list it for VC 104 either. However, it does also list three older unlocalised records for Mull. All four Mull records are from March or April so now is the time to look!

Creag Colluscard

April 10, 2015

Creag Colluscard, near Linicro, is the site of several species in the 10km square NG36 that had not been recorded since before 2000. This gully

IMG_4414ahas Alchemilla alpina (Alpine Lady’s-mantle), Hymenophyllum wilsonii (Wilson’s Filmy-fern, 1983), Saxifraga aizoides (Yellow Saxifrage, 1983) and Silene acaulis (Moss Campion) all last recorded in NG36 in 1983 and also has Saxifraga hypnoides (Mossy Saxifrage). Some of these were widespread along the crags.

Nearby there was Botrychium lunaria (Moonwort) last recorded elsewhere in NG36 in 1985:


Botrychium lunaria

This is the earliest record for this species in the vice-county.

A Tachinid Fly

April 10, 2015

I caught an unusual-looking fly in the garden last Saturday which Murdo has determined as a male Botria subalpina, making me the fourth person in UK to have found it, Murdo having been the first in 2012!

Botria subalpina

Botria subalpina

This is the second record on the west coast.

Course on Identifying Wild Flowers – Inverness

April 10, 2015

Course Inverness