Archive for March, 2016


March 31, 2016

My article for the April edition of the Raasay Community Newsletter (Am Bratach Ratharsair) concerns Lesser Celandine and can be found from a link on this page. Some images that didn’t make it to the newsletter:

Ficaria verna fertilis Raasay (1)

Ficaria verna subsp fertilis on Raasay

Ficaria verna verna  bulbils Portree

Ficaria verna subsp. verna: Bulbils (Portree)

Ficaria verna leaf mines Sleat

Ficaria verna subsp. verna: Leaf mines (Sleat)

Celandine Clustercup Rust

Celandine Clustercup Rust    Photo M. Macdonald

Likely Moths

March 26, 2016

The East Scotland Branch of Butterfly Conservation has done an excellent job of publishing lists and images of moths by month by vice-county. So if you follow this link you will find the VC104 page and you can select a month. December and January are blank but e.g. March shows 11 moths of which 7 are “Likely”, 3 “Unlikely” and 1 “Very Unlikely”.

Obviously it needs to be used with care but it is a good place to start if you have a moth you are not sure of.

In fact this March in VC104 has seen lots of Pale Brindled Beauties, a Currant Pug and a March Moth (not listed for  March in VC104) and at least two Red Swordgrass (listed as unlikely) so caveat emptor.

Egg Rings

March 22, 2016

Out on the shore recently there have been lots of small yellow tori on the kelp. George Brown tells me that they are the egg circles of the beautiful snail Lacuna vincta (Banded Chink Shell) and sent me this image of parents and eggs (plus one Gibbula cineraria (Grey Top Shell)).

DSC_0534 LR

Lacuna vincta – adults and eggs               Photo: G. Brown

Spring is Sprung

March 14, 2016

Well, some signs of life anyway and we appear to be in for a week of good weather. In flower yesterday:

I also spotted Yellow Brain fungus on dead gorse

Tremella mesenterica (Yellow Brain)

Tremella mesenterica (Yellow Brain)

(It is yellow initially, turning orange later.) However, there is also a lookalike, Tremella aurantia, that is virtually indistinguishable without a microscope. Liz Holden says that on gorse it is almost certainly T. mesenterica which parasitizes the fungus Peniophora, which is common on gorse. T. aurantia parasitises Stereum hirsutum which would be unusual on gorse and most records so far are from the south of the UK. It could well be in Scotland just not recorded yet. I will see if I can find the host fungus to double-check.

Last night I put out the moth trap for the first time this year and this morning there were three Pale Brindled Beauties on the  wall beside it:

Pale Brindled Beauty 3

Pale Brindled Beauty

I also caught a greenbottle mimic a few days ago in the house, Eudasyphora cyanella, which over-winters as an adult.


Eudasyphora cyanella

Talk on Thursday in Portree

March 11, 2016

In place of the previously advertised talk SWT Skye Region Group presents:

Up for Crabs

Butterfly-orchid Hybrid

March 11, 2016

Terry Swainbank has been into the herbarium at the University of Oxford and compared what he had determined as Platanthera x hybrida (P. chlorantha x bifolia) from his croft with a specimen from Sligachan taken by George Claridge Druce in 1909.

This experience has confirmed his determination.

Hybrid Butterfly Orchid

Hybrid Butterfly-orchid at Ard Dorch 2015         Photo: T Swainbank

Druce said of his plant: “….differing from bifolia by its longer spur and its pollen lobes being slightly divaricate; from virescens by its colour and shape of sepals and spurs – on the whole nearer bifolia.”

Oxford Herb Plat x hyb

Druce specimen                 University of Oxford Herbarium


There is no record for the hybrid in the BSBI Distribution Database for VC104.Indeed, there are only four records from Scotland, the latest in 1995. Druce’s become the earliest and Terry’s the only one so far this century.

My Local Kelp Forest – Part 2

March 11, 2016

OK. Here come the crabs:

Green Shore Crab

Green Shore Crab

Edible Crab

Edible Crab


Velvet Crab

Spider crab 1

Spider Crab

Liocarcinus sp Raasay 1.jpg

Swimming Crab awaiting identification

My Local Kelp Forest – Part 1

March 11, 2016

Inspired by Wednesday’s excursion, on Thursday at low water I wandered out the door onto the beach and down to the exposed kelp forest here on Raasay.

I found five different crabs and five different echinoderms. Here are the echinoderms:


Bloody Henry Starfish

Common Starfish

Common Starfish

Spiny Starfish

Spiny Starfish


Common Brittlestar

Edible Sea Urchin

Edible Sea Urchin

Huperzia Again

March 10, 2016

Andy has kindly let me use one of his pictures of Huperzia selago subsp. arctica from the Cairngorms:

Huperzia selago subsp. arctica

Huperzia selago subsp. arctica                           Photo A. Amphlett


March 9, 2016

Near Sligachan ten days ago I found  some Huperzia selago (Fir Clubmoss) that looked to me like subsp. arctica. I sent a specimen to Mike Wilcox who confirms it – unless it is H. haleakalae (Pacific Clubmoss) which seems less likely (not definitely recorded in the British Isles) but needs to be checked for.

Huperzia selago subsp. arctica is thin and yellow compared with subsp. selago, the common taxon. A key is hereIt is known in the Outer Isles, one site in Orkney, East Inverness-shire and one site in Ireland.
Next time I shall take a photograph……