Archive for March, 2016

The Seashore at the Equinoctal Tide

March 9, 2016

A little early for the equinox we are seeing the extreme equinoctal tides. James took a group to see what we could find at low water today at Ardnish. Here are a few of the things we saw:

Zostera growing in maerl bed

Eelgrass (Zostera marina) growing in maerl bed

Marbled Swimming Crab.jpg

Marbled Swimming Crab (Liocarcinus marmoreus)


Gadoid fish

Feather Star

Rosy Feather-star

Bloody Henry Starfsh

Common Starfish

Peacock Worm

Peacock Worm

Allt Daraich

March 6, 2016

The Allt Daraich runs from Coire na Sgairde into the River Sligachan just before the latter reaches the sea. There is a long gorge where Hymenophyllum wilsonii (Wilson’s Filmy-fern) was recorded in 1968 and 1976. I had a quick look today but failed to find any. However, there was a fair bit of water in the burn, limiting access, and an awful lot of gorge to search.

The burn has some very attractive stretches:


Botanically, the most noticeable feature was the alien shrubs along the gorge. There were huge numbers (many hundreds, perhaps thousands) of Berberis darwinii (Darwin’s Barberry) and Gaultheria mucronata (Prickly Heath),  a lot of Rhododendron ponticum (Rhododendron) and quite a few plants of Rubus laciniatus (Cut-leaved Bramble).


Berberis darwinii


Gaultheria mucronata

Alan Underhill’s Skye Records

March 2, 2016

Alan Underhill was a bird and plant twitcher, a term he was happy with, who died young but left some interesting records. He wanted to see every plant species that occurs in the wild in the British Isles and travelled the country sleeping in his car. I have recently received his Skye plant records which date from 1989 to 1999.

Amongst these are the first records for the vice-county for Geranium himalayense (Himalayan Crane’s-bill) and Nepeta x faassenii (Garden Cat-mint) near Linicro and a record for the dock hybrid Rumex x propinquus (R. crispus x longifolius) in Broadford in 1997. This hybrid between Curled Dock and Northern Dock is probably more common than records suggest – the only other Skye records are from Geoffrey Kitchener in Kyleakin in 1991 and myself in Roag in 2006.

Docks are generally not that difficult to sort out and the hybrids, of which there are many, usually look satisfactorily intermediate. The following illustrations are from the BSBI Docks & Knotweeds Handbook (available from Summerfield Books).

Rx x pro & parents

Tepals (a term used when a flower has no differentiation between petals and sepals) from left to right of Rumex longifolius (Northern Dock), R. x propinquus  and R. crispus (Curled Dock).

BSBI Distributional Database – Update

March 1, 2016

The BSBI Distributional Database (DDb) continues to evolve and amaze. I can now see instantly what I have spent many happy hours constructing in the past e.g.

Tetrad NG24P
% land or freshwater in tetrad in vice-county 83
% sea in tetrad 17
% land in another vice-county 0
Majority of land area in vc? yes
At least 1km2 land in vc? yes
Species recorded per tetrad (all years) 257
% of total species recorded in tetrad, that have been recorded since 2000 86
Well recorded tetrad? (>=100 spp in all years AND >= 75% of species recorded since 2000). yes
Species not re-found since 2000 35
Species re-found since 2000 28
Newly found species since 2000 194
Recording days per tetrad since 2000 15

and yes, clicking on those blue links brings up exactly what you would expect (as long as you can log in to the DDb) – lists of taxa, and in the case of the tetrad, a map, a taxon list and a detailed list like the following extract:

Hypochaeris radicata (2010) 0 2
Inula helenium (1998) 4 0
Iris pseudacorus (2010) 0 2
Isolepis setacea (1998) 2 0
Juncus effusus (2010) 0 2
Juncus gerardii (2010) 0 2
Juncus squarrosus (2000) 0 1
Laburnum anagyroides (2010) 0 1
Lamium purpureum (2010) 2 1
Lapsana communis (2010) 0 1


italicised taxa, previously present in grid-square

bold taxa, present in grid-square, with recent records

(year) year of most recent record

<number of records 1900 – 1999> <number of recent (post-1999) records>

(I have chosen the year ranges.)

Wintergreens for the Raasay Community Newsletter

March 1, 2016

I have agreed to start writing on matters botanical for the Raasay Community Newsletter which has many more subscribers than Raasay residents (FREE as a pdf by e-mail from Lloyd Gudgeon at Remove the colour to use the e-mail address).

The first one concerns wintergreens and is available via a link on this page.