Archive for July, 2015

Hybrid Vaccinium

July 31, 2015

On the basis of these images:

Clive Stace says “I think that there is very high likelihood that it is V. x intermedium, but without flowers I think it is not possible to determine it with 100% certainty. Your pictures look just like plants of the hybrid I have seen in Derbyshire.”

I think I now have a trip planned for next Spring…..

Orbost & Healabhal Bheag (MacLeod’s Table South)

July 31, 2015

I had an excellent walk from Orbost Farm, up the Orbost Burn and on to Healabhal Bheag yesterday. Tetrads NG24G & L had their recorded taxon count raised from 12 and 6 to 107 and 173 respectively and a very brief wander into NG24F improved the count there from 12 to 65.

MacLeod's Table South

MacLeod’s Table South

Ten species were found that had not been recorded in the 10km square NG24 since before 2000:

Botrychium lunaria Moonwort
Capsella bursa-pastoris Shepherd’s-purse
Diphasiastrum alpinum Alpine Clubmoss
Epilobium hirsutum Great Willowherb
Gentianella campestris Field Gentian
Neottia cordata Lesser Twayblade
Pilosella aurantiaca Fox-and-cubs
Salix pentandra Bay Willow
Saxifraga oppositifolia Purple Saxifrage
Vaccinium vitis-idaea Cowberry

and seven of these had never been localised to a tetrad before.

The preceding post shows Epilobium brunnescens (New Zealand Willowherb) on the south end of Healabhal Bheag, great swathes of it as one finds on the Trotternish Ridge.

Dwarfed Prunellla vulgaris (Selfheal) can look quite exotic once it loses its petals:



I had a close encounter with a fox in very fine condition and found this True Lover’s Knot

True Lover's Knot

True Lover’s Knot

drowned in this pool


which as well as the Sparganium angustifolium (Floating Bur-reed) had Large Red Damselfly and another moth that declined to stay still long enough to have its picture taken.

There were Magpie Moths everywhere. Brian says from Carr Brae “we never see [them] here on the mainland any more.  Very strange as it used to be very common.”

I may have found Vaccinium x intermedium (V. myrtillus x vitis-idaea) growing with both parents (Bilberry & Cowberry) but I am seeking expert opinion.

The Hills Are Alive…

July 30, 2015

with New Zealand Willowherb

Epbru 1

Epbru 2

Loch Chaluim Chille

July 27, 2015

A select party from the Skye Botany Group spent a longish day in the Loch Chaluim Chille area today. The loch, which had been Skye’s largest, was drained nearly 200 years ago yielding good arable land but it has now reverted to marsh, with a deep ditch all round it and other ditches cutting across.

We were well pleased to re-find Carex diandra (Lesser Tussock-sedge) in a couple of places – both with good numbers of plants.

There was Salix pentandra (Bay Willow) on the Monkstadt track where it had been previously recorded in 1963 and 1999:

Salix pentandra   Note glossy upper leaf surface and serration

Salix pentandra            Note glossy upper leaf surface and serration

This is the first record in VC104 since 1999. Other pre-2000 records clearly need looking for too.

There was Sparganium erectum (Branched Bur-reed) in and close to a drain, also last recorded there in 1999, the triple hybrid Mimulus known as M. x caledonicus (Mimulus guttatus × nummularius × variegatus), Berula erecta (Lesser Water-parsnip) and a very convincingly intermediate hybrid, Salix x multinervis (S. aurita (Eared Willow) x cinerea subsp. oleifolia (Rusty Willow).

We did a lot of good to tetrad counts particularly in the under-recorded tetrad NG36U.

However, we did only half the job and I think the Skye Botany Group may soon return to look at the northern part of this area.

Loch Chaluim Chille

Loch Chaluim Chille

Sleat Finds

July 23, 2015

Patricia has managed to find Cephalanthera longifolia (Narrow-leaved Helleborine) at a known site in Sleat where I have looked several times but failed:

Cephalanthera longifolia

Cephalanthera longifolia                     Photo: P. Shone

If you look in the upper right area of the picture you should also be able to see Ophioglossum vulgatum (Adder’s-tongue) – the first record for the 10 km square NG60.

Some Recent Images

July 19, 2015

Jean took this photo of Nuphar lutea (Yellow Water-lily) on Scalpay and caught a Common Blue Damselfly at the same time:

Yellow Water-lily & Damselfly

Yellow Water-lily & Damselfly            Photo: J Thomas

Jean & Keith found Botrychium lunaria (Moonwort) in Glenbrittle Forest, the first record in NG42 since 1996 and the first one localised to a tetrad:

Botrychium lunaria (Moonwort)

Botrychium lunaria (Moonwort)         Photo:  J&K Sadler

Steve is trying to identify a fern from the Skye limestone:


Fern awaiting i.d.    Photo:  S. Terry

Here on Raasay, Margaret has an infestation of Pine Weevils, probably from logs for the fire:

Pine Weevil

Pine Weevil           Photo: SJB

On Eilean Flodigarry Hilary spotted this parasitic wasp:

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and Jeremy has been to see the Arabis alpina (Alpine Rock-cress) in the Cuillins:

Arabis alpina   Photo: J. Roberts

Arabis alpina                             Photo: J. Roberts

and the Woodsia alpina (Alpine Woodsia) on the Trotternish Ridge:

Woodsia alpina Photo: J Roberts

Woodsia alpina          Photo: J Roberts

Many thanks to all who sent me these.

I am beginning to see the light

July 18, 2015

It cost less than £100 but this Sony makes me begin to comprehend what these bird and photography buffs get out of it. These little fellows were half way down the garden and photographed through the kitchen window.

House Sparrows

House Sparrows

Exploring Raasay

July 18, 2015

I was supposed to be on Canna today but it is just as well that I didn’t set off for Mallaig yesterday as this morning’s ferry to Canna and the rest of the Small Isles was cancelled. We are having a storm.

On the bright side, I was able to attend Nick Fairweather’s book launch last night instead. Exploring Raasay details twenty walking routes on Raasay.

Exploring Raasay

Exploring Raasay

It is available from Raasay Stores and from the publishers Thirsty Books here


July 16, 2015

The SWT expedition yesterday was on probably the best day of the year so far weather-wise. I was able to do some good in the under-recorded 10 km square NG63 adding 10 new taxa:

Asplenium trichomanes subsp. quadrivalens (Maidenhair Spleenwort) – only new at the subspecies level

Cirsium heterophyllum (Melancholy Thistle) (This one was found by Bill & Deirdre)
Conopodium majus (Pignut)
Cystopteris fragilis (Brittle Bladder-fern)
Fraxinus excelsior (Ash)
Gymnadenia borealis (Heath Fragrant-orchid)

 Gymnadenia borealis

Gymnadenia borealis

Juncus bufonius (Toad Rush)
Melampyrum pratense (Common Cow-wheat)

Melampyrum as an epiphyte!

Melampyrum as an epiphyte!

Silene dioica (Red Campion)
Rosa caesia subsp. vosagiaca  (Glaucous Dog-rose)

Quite a few more plants were recorded for the first time in NG63 since before 2000 (often long before 2000) e.g. Allium ursinum (Ramsons), Chrysosplenium oppositifolium (Opposite-leaved Golden-saxifrage), Dryopteris filix-mas (Male-fern), Epilobium montanum (Broad-leaved Willowherb), Epilobium palustre (Marsh Willowherb), Pedicularis palustris (Marsh Lousewort), Polystichum aculeatum (Hard Shield-fern) and Selaginella selaginoides (Lesser Clubmoss).

Nick made two new county records of bryophytes: the hornwort Anthoceros punctatus on wet soil in Scalpay House garden and the leafy liverwort Calypogeia suecica on a decorticated rotten log.

I also enriched the list for tetrad NG62J, but pressing on…..

There were two places where the Holcus mollis (Creeping Soft-grass) was infected by the gall-causing fungus Epichloë clarkii:

Epichloë clarkii

Epichloë clarkii

This is a “choke” fungus that prevents flowering. Kew has no recent collection from Scotland so I am sending them a specimen.

I saw my first Carex smut of the year – the relatively common Anthracoidea karii on Carex echinata (Star Sedge) and the intertidal pools at one point had the alien seaweed Codium fragile:

Codium fragile

Codium fragile    “Green Sea Fingers”

Part of the shore with cliffs and caves had a nice collection of ferns including Asplenium scolopendrium (Hart’s-tongue), Asplenium trichomanes subsp. quadrivalens (Maidenhair Spleenwort), Hymenophyllum wilsonii (Wilson’s Filmy-fern), Osmunda regalis (Royal Fern) and Polystichum aculeatum (Hard Shield-fern).

Osmunda regalis on Scalpay

Osmunda regalis on Scalpay

Jean, Marie, Bill & Deirdre found the Nuphar lutea (Yellow Water-lily) doing well at its known site and Jean has a nice picture of a flower with Enallagma cyathigerum (Common Blue Damselfly) on it. Other damsels and dragons were seen including Pyrrhosoma nymphula (Large Red Damselfly, Cordulegaster boltonii (Golden-ringed Dragonfly) and Aeshna juncea (Common Hawker)

A couple of adders had been seen the previous two days on the path that I walked but I missed them. David and Jeanette saw a common lizard and toads (or at least, toad tadpoles).

New Camera

July 14, 2015

Arrived today. Ah…. that’s better……


Map-winged Swift




Flame Carpet (Thanks Elizabeth)


Marbled Carpet sp.