Archive for May, 2016

North of Romesdal

May 30, 2016

With the Skye Botany Group excursion tomorrow but the car already at Sconser, today was an opportunity for a gentle stroll so I visited two tetrads north of Romesdal (between Kensaleyre and Earlish).

I didn’t stray that far from the road apart from a wander up the Lòn Ruadh, but ended up with between 140 and 150 vascular plant taxa in each tetrad – previous records had been a bit thin at 88 and definitely thin at 43 taxa.

On the butterfly front, I saw my first Small Heath of the year plus several Green-veined Whites- they have been around recently.

Small Heath

This rust was on Ribes sanguineum (Flowering Currant), which I am reasonably confident is caused by Puccinia caricina.

Gall on Ribes sang

The plant highlight was another, in this case previously unrecorded, large colony of Equisetum pratense (Shady Horsetail) on the verge of the road along Glen Hinnisdal.

On the way home I paused briefly at Sligachan and managed to find Arabidopsis thaliana (Thale Cress), the only previous record in NG42 also being from Sligachan, though not in the same spot, in 1979.

More Insect News

May 28, 2016

When I cleaned out the midge-eaters a few days ago there were a lot of White-shouldered House-moths:

Micro 160524

White-shouldered House-moths

Today there is what I am told is a Foxglove Pug in the garden, incredibly well camouflaged against the paving slab it settled on briefly.

pug 160528

Foxglove Pug

Up in Coire Làgan I saw my first Large Red Damselflies of the year, the first was immature and drowning but I think it may now survive.

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I recently had this caddisfly in the moth trap. Further than that I cannot go…..

Caddis Fly LR



May 28, 2016

Nick and Tom had a day up Sgùrr nan Eag and along the ridge to Gars-bheinn, adding some very useful records of mountain plants to two very poorly recorded tetrads, such as Alchemilla alpina (Alpine Lady’s-mantle), Arabidopsis petraea (Northern Rock-cress), Cryptogramma crispa (Parsley Fern), Diphasiastrum alpinum (Alpine Clubmoss), Oxyria digyna (Mountain Sorrel), Persicaria vivipara (Alpine Bistort),  Rubus saxatilis (Stone Bramble), Saxifraga oppositifolia (Purple Saxifrage) and Sedum rosea (Roseroot).

Yesterday I explored Coire Làgan:

Upper Coire Lagan

Upper Coire Lagan

This loch at about 570m appears to support a monoculture of Juncus bulbosus (Bulbous Rush) in vascular plant terms. Around it there was Thalictrum alpinum (Alpine Meadow-rue). In fact, this assemblage on its bank is a little unusual:

Assemblage LR

Armeria maritima, Saxifraga stellaris, Thalictrum alpinum, Vaccinium myrtillus

Oxyria digyna (Mountain Sorrel) was looking particularly fine:

Oxyria digyna

Oxyria digyna

It takes a lot of effort to find a limited number of species in these hills, but there are some rare things and the scenery is stunning.

The plant I haven’t identified yet, which is the subject of the previous post, was in the middle of the path on the way down. I don’t fancy its chances.


May 27, 2016

Does this ring any bells? It is in the middle of the Coire Làgan path surrounded my moor.

Unknown Coire Lagan 04 LRUnknown Coire Lagan 01 LRUnknown Coire Lagan 02 LRUnknown Coire Lagan 03 LR

Insect News

May 26, 2016

I have put out a moth trap twice in the past few days and not had a lot of excitement – lots of Garden Carpets plus a few others: Pale-shouldered Brocade, Scalloped Hazel, Ruddy Highflyer, Flame Carpet.

Scalloped Hazel LR

Scalloped Hazel

Tonight there is a Common Wave in the polytunnel:

Common Wave

Common Wave

A couple of days ago I found two of these click beetles in the garden and they certainly launch themselves with a loud click. I think this is Agriotes obscurus, one that Richard has recorded on Raasay a number of times:

beetle 160524 (3)

River Leasgeary

May 26, 2016

The River Leasgeary flows though Portree but before it gets there it turns out to have banks covered in wild flowers and other interesting plants. Yesterday, I went in search of Equisetum pratense (Shady Horsetail), recorded there in 1994.

I found E. arvense (Field Horsetail), E. fluviatile (Water Horsetail), E. palustre (Marsh Horsetail) and E. sylvaticum (Wood Horsetail) and was beginning to give up hope, but then I found more E. pratense than I had ever seen before – 2,000 shoots at a minimum.

Equisetum pratense

Equisetum pratense by the River Leasgeary

There were also large numbers of Orchis mascula (Early-purple Orchid) and Trollius europaeus (Globeflower).

Trollius europaeus

Trollius europaeus

Later, a quick look at the burn near the Scorybreck Monument failed to find an earlier record for E. pratense.

From Glenbrittle towards Loch Eynort

May 24, 2016

I had a very useful day yesterday travelling due west from Glenbrittle beach, getting into three tetrads with only a dozen plants recorded between them.

The first, NG32V, had Lycopodium clavatum (Stag’s-horn Clubmoss), the first record in NG32 since 1973.

Lycopodium clavatum

Lycopodium clavatum

The long white hairs on the tips of the leaves are a useful means of distinguishing this (and L. lagopus) from L. annotinum (Interrupted Clubmoss):

Lycopodium clavatum 2

I assume this isn’t L. lagopus (see this blog entry), my only question being that there does seem to be a hint of annual growth constrictions:

Lycopodium clavatum 3

Anyway, on to other things…. There is still lots of Alchemilla alpina (Alpine Lady’s-mantle) on Truagh Meall where Catriona Murray found it in 1996 and, new to NG32, there was a single frond of Ophioglossum vulgatum (Adder’s-tongue) in the sort of habitat I would have thought Botrychium more likely:

Ophioglossum vulagatum Truagh Meall

Nearer to Glenbrittle, a spring contained Saxifraga stellaris (Starry Saxifrage).

Heading west into NG32Q there is still Carex limosa (Bog-sedge) in the Loch an Leth-uillt area (which also had Palmate Newts) and there is also Bog-sedge in an unnamed loch east of Cnoc nan Uan.

Carex limosa

Carex limosa

One of the burns had Chara virgata (Delicate Stonewort) which was new to NG32.

But the richest area was the coastal cliffs in NG32Q and NG32K with all sorts of nice plants. Carlina vulgaris (Carline Thistle) was present in good numbers, previously only know from NG32 as an unlocalised entry in the 1962 BSBI Atlas. There was lots of Agrimonia procera (Fragrant Agrimony), again new to NG32, Trollius europaeus (Globeflower) in flower already, Saxifraga hypnoides (Mossy Saxifrage) and pink specimens of Orchis mascula (Early-purple Orchid) as well as some more standard versions:

orchis mascula pink

Everywhere I went there were Common Heath moths – day-flying moths that do not stay still for long to have their photo taken but I managed this one:

Common Heath LR

Common Heath

There are some stunning views on the coast, but it is quite a walk in.



Skye Botany Group

May 22, 2016

We are going to explore an area in the SE of Waternish – to the NW of Greshornish – on Tuesday 31st May. This area has virtually no vascular plant or bryophyte records. If you would like to join us please get in touch via the e-mail/phone details you can find here

Fungi on Ericaceous Shrubs

May 20, 2016

When I was in the Allt a’ Choin area I noticed fungi on Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry) and Vaccinium vitis-idaea (Cowberry).

Bruce tells me the one on Arctostaphylos is Lembosina gontardii, not common but recorded from the Highlands. The one on Vaccinium is Physalospora vitis-idaeae, quite common and widespread, but there are not many records of these things.

Arc u-u fungus

Lembosina gontardii

Vacc v-i fungus

Physalospora vitis-idaeae


May 20, 2016

Today there is a two-banded longhorn beetle (Rhagium bifasciatum) on the house wall. I seem to see one of these per year here. A couple of days ago I spotted a larva of the Square-spot Rustic in the garden, again something I have found here before.

Square-spot Rustic Larva

Square-spot Rustic

There was the Scottish form of Common Pug in the polytunnel last week. It shot out of a hanging basket of strawberries as I watered it:

DSC01591a - Pug

Scottish form of Common Pug

This took a bit of debate amongst local moth folks but Roy Leverton has confirmed its identity.

Back at the beginning of May we had a Meadow Pipit in the garden for several days – presumably sheltering from the grotty weather before returning to its normal hunting ground on the moors.  Being right on the shore, I am more used to seeing Rock Pipits in the garden.

Meadow Pipit

Wet Meadow Pipit

Other things I haven’t mentioned include a Common Lizard on Raasay seen by Katherine and another near Healabhal Bheag (MacLeod’s Table South) seen by myself.