Archive for July, 2017

Water-purslane – New to Skye

July 29, 2017

Seth has found Lythrum portula (Water-purslane) near Flodigarry. This is a first for Skye though there are older records for Canna and Muck. This is Seth’s photo of it with Centunculus minimus (Chaffweed).

Chaffweed n Water Purslane

Chaffweed (on left) & Water-purslane (on right)       Photo: S J D Gibson

Vegetation Monitoring in Coir’ an t-Seasgaich

July 25, 2017

Long-term followers of this blog will know that I do this every year. This is the final year of the current contract and yesterday I had my first day of the season up there.

Quite apart from the vegetation itself there were a couple of notable occurrences. Firstly, one of the experimental plots has recently had a large boulder through it from the cliffs above, breaking down the Rylock & rabbit wire on all three fences and smashing a fence post:

Site 4 RU divide fence damage (2)LR

I was glad this did not happen while I was kneeling on the grass.

Secondly, in order to assess litter cover I throw a quadrat within the treatment site to give random locations. On the final site I threw my quadrat about 2 m. It stood up on end and headed off down the hill, over a cliff and on to the corry below, making a metallic clanging sound and scattering sheep. It travelled about 250m down the slope, from whence I recovered it.

Just as well it was the last site.

It is very dry underfoot up there this year.

Sawfly Larvae

July 23, 2017

If anybody out there can help with these large sawfly larvae, I would be very grateful:

On Juncus acutiflorusOn Oenanthe crocata 2

Initially on Oenanthe crocata (Hemlock Water-dropwort), then on adjacent Juncus acutiflorus (Sharp-flowered Rush).

Later: They look similar to Dolerus bajulus and I am told that Dolerus sp. is as near as I am going to get without rearing them to adults. Too late now.

Moth Trap

July 23, 2017

Last night’s moth trap had some fine specimens:

Light Emerald

Light Emerald

Coxcomb Prominent

Coxcomb Prominent

and quite a few more.

Review of January to June

July 19, 2017

Now available on the BSBI VC104 page. Derived from material presented on this blog.

Suarbie etc.

July 16, 2017

I visited Suarbie near Maligar in Trotternish today. The day was neither as dry or as calm as had been forecast and the plants of tetrad NG46S were not that inspiring. The only previous records for the tetrad were of 11 species found in an unnamed loch in NG4664 by the NCC Scottish Loch Survey in 1989. All those species are still there.

DSC04586 LR

Unnamed loch in NG4664

I also toured part of NG46R to the south and slipped into NG46L (the Beinn Edra tetrad) as well as adding 16 to NG46X from where I parked at Maligar.

As an indicator of there being limited excitement, I only took detailed gird references for three species in NG46S: Eriophorum latifolium (Broad-leaved Cottongrass), Glyceria declinata (Small Sweet-grass) and Neottia cordata (Lesser Twayblade).


Vascular Plant Taxa per Hectad post-1999

July 15, 2017

An idle few moments on a wet day has led to this:

Hectad taxa post-1999a

No further comment , really…..

To Hartaval from the West

July 13, 2017

Yesterday, I parked at Keistle and headed east to record in tetrads NG45R & S. The former had one previous record – for Koenigia islandica (Iceland-purslane) with the comment “Needs checking – based on dots on photocopied map. W end of Beinnn an Lochain”. I found no sign of it there, and indeed no likely looking habitat.

At Keistle there were a few plants of Iris spuria (Blue Iris) in an area where garden rubbish had been disposed of. There were also a couple of these plants in the nearby garden. FWIW, a new VC record.

Iris spuria Keistle

Iris spuria (Blue Iris)

NG45S includes Bealach Hartaval – and the Hartaval summit itself – but only 9 taxa had been recorded previously including Koenigia islandica (Iceland-purslane) and Minuartia sedoides (Cyphel).

The Koenigia islandica was looking its usual magnificent self:


Koenigia islandica

and the Cyphel was all over the place. However, it was easy to add pleasing and/or significant finds to the tetrad such as Draba incana (Hoary Whitlowgrass), Juncus triglumis (Three-flowered Rush), Luzula spicata (Spiked Wood-Rush), Oxyria digyna (Mountain Sorrel), Persicaria vivipara (Alpine Bistort), Poa glauca (Glaucous Meadow-grass), Saussurea alpina (Alpine Saw-wort), Saxifraga hypnoides (Mossy Saxifrage), Saxifraga nivalis (Alpine Saxifrage), Saxifraga oppositifolia (Purple Saxifrage), Silene acaulis (Moss Campion), Thalictrum alpinum (Alpine Meadow-rue) and Trollius europaeus (Globeflower).

All in all a successful day with tetrad totals raised from 1 dubious to 129 in NG45R and from 9 to 125 in NG45S.

I also  found some new (to me) fungi on Alchemilla glabra (Smooth Lady’s-mantle) (Later: fungus was Coleroa alchemillae), Valeriana officinalis (Common Valerian) (Later: fungus was Ramularia valerianae) and Rumex acetosella (Sheep’s Sorrel), though I think the last is Ramularia pratensis as found on Rumex acetosa (Common Sorrel) (Correct!).

Oh yes, and I managed a reasonable photo of a Small Heath:

Small Heath

Small Heath

And Another Thing

July 11, 2017

At Plockton I spotted several plants of Thlaspi arvense (Field Penny-cress). This appears to be the first record for VC105. The only VC104 record is from Soay in 1946.  The BRC Online Atlas describes it as follows:

“An annual found as an arable weed, particularly with broad-leaved crops and mainly on heavier soils. It is also a frequent weed on disturbed roadsides, and in waste places and gardens.”

It is really quite common further south.

DSC04461 R

Thlaspi arvense at Plockton

Still Off-piste

July 10, 2017

There is so much more I could report about three days spent in VC105 but here is just one: Trientalis europaea (Chickweed-wintergreen).  This is a plant not known in VC104 but in 2001 I found it to the south of Applecross, just 10km from the east coast of Raasay.

In 1960 a visitor reported it from Arnish/Torran on Raasay but his description of it as “in woods” suggested it was at least fairly frequent.  After 34 years of botanising Raasay I can say that it isn’t. The 1960 record has been treated as an error, perhaps for Anemone nemorosa (Wood Anemone)?

Anyway, BRC’s Online Atlas of the British and Irish flora describes it as “A deciduous perennial herb of moist, acidic and humus-rich, but often fertile, soils in Betula, Pinus and Quercus woodland and on moorland; less commonly on heaths,” which is very reasonable judging by all the sites I know.  However, on Saturday I found it near Cluanie in a very wet habitat with Juncus effusus (Soft-rush) and Viola palustris (Marsh Violet).

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Since you insist, I will offer a second item…..

Both Hieracium holosericeum (Shaggy Hawkweed) and Hieracium subglobosum (Subglobose Hawkweed) are known in the Kyleakin Hills. On Thursday I spotted both in the area near the top of the Bealach na Bà. The former was known from that area but the latter was not.

Hieracium holosericeum VC105

Hieracium holosericeum (Shaggy Hawkweed)

Hieracium subglobosum VC105

Hieracium subglobosum (Subglobose Hawkweed)

These are the two commonest alpine hawkweeds in NW Scotland.