Archive for June, 2015

Moths and Pansies

June 16, 2015

Catching up with other matters, John found Viola tricolor subsp. tricolor (Wild Pansy) at Waternish a few days ago:

Viola tricolor at Waternish  Photo J Hawell

Viola tricolor at Waternish                    Photo J Hawell

I put the moth trap out on two successive nights and caught three moths. Everyone on Skye with a moth trap is reporting low numbers. Then today I found one in the coal shed. Two Broom Moths, 1 Scalloped Hazel and one Clouded-bordered Brindle:

More from Rubh’ an Dùnain

June 16, 2015

Terry has sent me an image of a gall we spotted on the way back from Rubh’ an Dùnain. This is on Potentilla erecta (Tormentil) and is probably caused by the fungus, Taphrina potentillae.

Taphrina potentillae gall

Taphrina potentillae gall       Photo T Swainbank

Other species of interest yesterday included Anagallis tenella (Bog Pimpernel), and Polypodium interjectum (Intermediate Polypody), both new 10 km square records. We found 12 of the 18 common plants in VC104 that had not previously been recorded in NG31.

Rubh’ an Dùnain – Skye Botany Group

June 16, 2015

Yesterday the Skye Botany Group visited Rubh’ an Dùnain.  Loch na h-Airde is Skye’s only brackish loch. In fact, judging by its taste yesterday it is highly saline, and it has seaweeds growing in it. It is the only site in the vice-county for Ruppia cirrhosa (Spiral Tasselweed). There was a great deal of tasselweed in the loch but there was no sign of flowers or fruit yet making separation from Ruppia maritima (Beaked Tasselweed) difficult. I have brought a bit home to see if it will develop flowers but on the basis of the dark green obtuse leaves and the previous records, I am content that that is what we were seeing.

 Loch na h-Airde and Stone Canal

Loch na h-Airde and Stone Canal

We recorded in three tetrads (and made a few records in a fourth we walked through) and made a significant improvement to the numbers of plants recorded in two of them (previously only 8 and 28 taxa). The third was better recorded previously though records from 2000 onwards were only 35.

The Vicia orobus (Wood Bitter-vetch) that Carl found ten years ago was thriving with at least five plants in flower.

Vicia orobus

Vicia orobus

Steve spotted several Argent and Sable moths and there were both types of seal and a porpoise in the sea.

Broadford Area

June 12, 2015

Today I visited Steve’s sites for Galium album and Paris quadrifolia.  There was more of the Galium than I had been expecting and it is looking in good health, though not yet flowering.

Galium album

Galium album

The Paris is one meter inside NG62H – the first record for this tetrad. I also found some in NG62G. Catriona Murray had recorded it from this tetrad in 1968, but not from the same site.

At Loch Cill Chriosd I was able to re-find Potamogeton coloratus (Fen Pondweed) known there since 1968 but last recorded in 1996. A conversation with one of the 1996 recorders Paul Smith when we were on North Uist made this much easier to find today – though I also found a second site in another part of the loch.

Potamogeton coloratus (1)

Potamogeton coloratus (1)

Potamogeton coloratus (2)

Potamogeton coloratus (2)

This is the most northerly site in the British Isles except for some in the Uists.

I also found Potamogeton x nitens (P. gramineus x perfoliatus) which was last recorded in Loch Cill Chriosd in 1989.

Potamogeton x nitens

Potamogeton x nitens              Note partially amplexicaul leaves that distinguish it from P. gramineus

There was more, but that is enough for now…….

Raasay Miscellany

June 10, 2015

The launch of Patterns of Flora was a great success. For my part, about 70 people came on botanical walks – not all at once but in two groups to the wood on the Inver walk and one group to the Oskaig saltmarsh.

My seven-week old grandson and I spotted Carex sylvatica (Wood-sedge) in an unusual location on Sunday by the road:

Carex sylvatica Suisnish

Carex sylvatica Suisnish (1)

Carex sylvatica Suisnish (2)

Carex sylvatica Suisnish (2)

As he was asleep at the time, I have not included him as a recorder. Going back today to take the photos above, I discovered an area of about 10 square metres with Vicia sativa subsp. nigra (Narrow-leaved Vetch) running through it.

Vicia sativa subsp. nigra Suisnish (1)

Vicia sativa subsp. nigra Suisnish (1)

Vicia sativa subsp. nigra Suisnish (2)

Vicia sativa subsp. nigra Suisnish (2)

I will check the fruits when they appear to make sure that this is not Vicia lathyroides (Spring Vetch), but I don’t think it is. Vicia sativa subsp. nigra is uncommon on Raasay and in VC104 generally. This may have been brought in with soil from Alness in 2006 and not been spotted before today. Many other plants that sprung out of that soil did not reappear after the first season.

Meanwhile, in the garden the gooseberries are infected with Puccinia caricina var. pringsheimiana, a colourful rust that according to the second edition of British Plant Galls (2011) appears to be rarer than in the 1950s. The only VC104 records on NBN are from the Broadford area in 2006 and 2009.

Kilmory, Rum

June 10, 2015

Yesterday was the SWT Skye Region Group’s trip to Rum. A RIB from Elgol gave us five hours at Kilmory  – or the chance to walk through and be picked up from Kinloch. I elected to spend the day in the Kilmory and Samhnan Insir area, mostly on the dunes. This proved very worthwhile. Top of the list and new to VC104 was Saxifraga tridactylites (Rue-leaved Saxifrage):

Saxifraga tridactylites on Rum

Saxifraga tridactylites on Rum

Next up were several sites for Catapodium marinum (Sea Fern-grass) recorded from this area up until 1992 but not recorded anywhere in VC104 since 1996 (on Eigg):

Catapodium marinum Rum

Catapodium marinum on Rum

There was a lot of Atriplex laciniata (Frosted Orache) along the shore. This had been recorded at Kilmory up to 1997 but it was not found during the years of recording for The Flora of Rum.

Atriplex laciniata on Rum

Atriplex laciniata on Rum

I also found six plants of Polygonum oxyspermum subsp. raii (Ray’s Knotgrass), another plant that had been recorded there before (until 1984) but not found during the Flora surveys. Maybe the grazing pressure has reduced.

Polygonum oxyspermum subsp. raii on Rum

Polygonum oxyspermum subsp. raii on Rum

There were also, of course, lots of plants that were seen during the Flora surveys from Cakile maritima (Sea Rocket) to Ophioglossum azoricum (Small Adder’s-tongue) and Cerastium semidecandrum (Little Mouse-ear) to Equisetum x trachyodon (Mackay’s Horsetail (E. hyemale x variegatum)).

In the dunes there were Garden Snails (Cornu aspersum) and in the boggy bits away from the dunes lots of Bog Beacons (Mitrula paludosa), these according to NBN being first records for Rum, though I haven’t delved any deeper into other record sources.

Steve’s Recent Records

June 10, 2015

Steve sent me over 500 records from May including sites for the Galium album (Hedge Bedstraw) mentioned before and various other nice things such as Lycopodium clavatum (Stag’s-horn Clubmoss), Hymenophyllum wilsonii (Wilson’s Filmy-fern) and less nice things like Fallopia japonica (Japanese Knotweed). Since then he has found a completely new site, north of Broadford for the local rarity Paris quadrifolia (Herb-paris):

Herb-paris    Photo: S. Terry

Herb-paris                      Photo: S. Terry

Patterns of Flora on Radio Scotland

June 3, 2015

If you are interested in the interview Frances Priest and I did on Radio Scotland this afternoon it is here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05x2p5t#auto starting a little after 48 minutes.

The Parian Vases

The Parian Vases

Waternish and Beyond

June 2, 2015

John and I went to Waternish House and Farm today. Many thanks to Robert and Lucy for giving us access to their grounds and pond. There was a 1982 record of Butomus umbellatus (Flowering-rush) from the pond, but also a note on the record that the pond had been drained by July 1988 so I was not surprised when we failed to find it. However, the pond is now full of Elodea canadensis (Canadian Waterweed) a first for VC 104:

Elodea canadensis

Elodea canadensis

There was also some Ficaria verna subsp. verna (Lesser Celandine – the subspecies with bulbils) – as is typical – in a big house garden.

We also found several of these monstrous bluebells, perhaps an effect induced by a herbicide?

Hyacinthoides monstrous

Monstrous Bluebells

One objective was a sample from the Gunnera tinctoria (Giant-rhubarb) on the shore.

Gunnera Waternish

Gunnera

Later I went on to Dunvegan for another Gunnera sample and up to Husabost to record in NG25B, a part-tetrad with no records post-1999.