Archive for August, 2017

Skye Botany Group September

August 31, 2017

On Friday September 29th (CHANGE OF DATE) we are returning to Loch Duagrich for another look at aquatic plants. Two years ago it looked like this:

Loch Duagrich LR

The equipment is ready:

Bathyscope & Grapnel LR

Bathyscope & Grapnel

…we didn’t try these last time. Please get in touch if you want to join us and are not on the circulation list. My contact details are here.

Two Additions

August 28, 2017

During my walk to Meall Port on Saturday I noticed two fungi on Cirsium heterophyllum (Melancholy Thistle). Bruce tells me one is rare on Cirsium:

Cirs het 1

Pustula tragopogonis

and the other, the rust Puccinia cnici-oleracei, is also uncommon:

Cirs het 2

Puccinia cnici-oleracei

Moth Trap

August 27, 2017

Last night’s moth trap yielded 33 moths, not counting the two that got away, including this little micro, Depressaria badiella (“Brown Flat-body“):

Moth 19d

Depressaria badiella

and a Pine Carpet for which there are very few Skye/Raasay records:

The pectinated antennae of the male distinguish it from the Grey Pine Carpet. Thank you for i.d. Nigel!

Meall Port (Mhealaraig)

August 27, 2017

The track between Kinloch and Kylerhea is like the curate’s egg – good in parts – especially at this time of year with the bracken at its peak. Close to the middle is Meall Port and until yesterday the tetrads there were virtually unrecorded: NG71N (84% land) had two plants recorded and NG71M (1% land) nil.

The track from Kinloch into NG71N is mostly pretty good and took me through other tetrads that benefited from more effort, notably a corner of NG71I which had only 25 taxa recorded.

So, 0, 2 and 25 have been improved to 101, 122 and 100 and I also added 50 to NG71H and 8 to NG71C.

Highlights included Rubus saxatilis (Stone Bramble) and Stachys sylvatica (Hedge Woundwort) which are common species (present in >200 tetrads in VC104) that had not been recorded in the 10km square NG71 since before 2000.  There are still six taxa in this category including three Equisetum spp. – and certainly I never saw a single horsetail yesterday.

Both the coastal tetrads M and N had Osmunda regalis (Royal Fern) where a burn enters the sea – the only previous record for NG71 was undated (1971-1986 ) and unlocalised.

Osmunda regalis

Osmunda regalis

Also Lycopus europaeus (Gypsywort):

Lycopus europaeus LR

Lycopus europaeus

plus Carex otrubae (False Fox-sedge) and Senecio sylvaticus (Heath Groundsel) and several sites for Hymenophyllum wilsonii (Wilson’s Filmy-fern) and Carex laevigata (Smooth-stalked Sedge).

Things in flower, Dactylorhiza maculata (Heath Spotted-orchid) and Hyacinthoides non-scripta (Bluebell) (!):

There were spangle galls on Quercus robur (Pedunculate Oak) caused by the cynipid wasp Neuroterus quercusbaccarum.

Spangle Galls

Spangle Galls

and this bee-mimic, the hoverfly Eristalis pertinax, which is apparently common – but as for many insects there are limited Skye records on the NBN Atlas – and none in NG71.

DSC05100 cropped

Eristalis pertinax



Sparganium erectum (Branched Bur-reed)

August 25, 2017

Mike Wilcox is seeking fruits of Sparganium erectum (mature as possible) in order to have a good look at the subspecies. If anyone would care to collect some, I can provide his address, or you can give them to me and I will send them on.

The current distribution map for Skye looks like this:


I can provide more details of locations if required.


A Bit of a Bindweed

August 25, 2017

Mike Wilcox has got me looking at Calystegia rather more closely than I have previously. Yesterday I collected multiple images of four Skye plants, which are roughly speaking C. sepium (twice), C. silvatica and C. pulchra. These are what I thought they were and Mike more or less agrees – but there are complications in this group.

The first C. sepium (Hedge Bindweed) has winged petioles:

Cal 1 f2 4 closeup

which is not really in the books but apparently is OK and within the range of C. sepium subsp. sepium.

The C. pulchra (Hairy Bindweed) is probably OK but I need to go and measure a few things to check for Calystegia x howittiorum (C. pulchra x silvatica):

A previously identified Calystegia silvatica subsp. silvatica (Large Bindweed) can be called var. zonata because of the zones of purplish colour on the outside of the flowers:

Cal 4 f3 3 cropped LR

The Lythrum salicaria (Purple-loosestrife) by the A855 in Portree is doing well this year with two robust plants, one on each side of the road.

Lythrum salicaria Portree LR

Lythrum salicaria in Portree

I added Scrophularia auriculata (Water Figwort) to the list for Trotternish and found a new site for Mentha x villosonervata (Sharp-toothed Mint (M. spicata x longifolia)) south of Portree close to where I spotted Hawthorn Shieldbug nymphs on Cotoneaster frigidus (Tree Cotoneaster):

Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale nymphs 3LR

Stephen Moran says “Hawthorn seems almost second choice up in the Highlands. Any Sorbus, Ilex and Cotoneaster is preferred. I noted some on holly and rowan on Tuesday slap bang next to hawthorn in full fruit…..where I was unable to find any nymphs at all.”

Holly seems a bit odd – the rest are all relatively close members of the Rosaceae family.

Insect News

August 21, 2017

Following up yesterday’s Heather Flies on Fladday, some joined me today in the garden while I cut the grass. My “lawn” contains a wide variety of plant species, but not heather.

Three beetles drowned themselves in the paddling pool a few weeks ago and it is now clear that they are Brown Chafers (Serica brunnea), recorded previously on Raasay by Richard Moore.

A few weeks ago Nancy spotted a Cinnabar Moth at Arduish on Raasay – there are previous Raasay records from  Holoman House and Dun Caan, but it is surprisingly rare locally.

Flies I have caught in the past three months and recently determined by Murdo included the blowfly Calliphora subalpina, one of the rarer ones, though I had it once before here, four years ago. Also, Merodon equestris (Narcissus Bulb Fly) a hairy bumblebee mimic that I have had once before, and probably Panzeria laevigata, a rare tachanid that has been sent on to a tachanid expert.

Last night’s moth trap produced some pretty things such as

and this micro-moth was attracted enough to sit on the adjacent wall, if not to enter the moth trap:

Moth 11

Eudonia angustea (Narrow-winged Grey)


August 21, 2017

Apart from playing with grandchildren by the causeway in Caol Fladda, I have not been to Fladday for ten years. Yesterday I did something about that and visited all six partial monads on Fladday with the intention of refreshing some pre-2000 records and also recording in the small northern area that forms all the land in tetrad NG55W. When I was creating the Flora of Raasay I did not record these little bits of land separately and so there were only three taxa recorded.  There are now 72, which isn’t too bad considering the tetrad is 97% sea and not endowed with a wide range of habitats.

Fladday N end

The North End of Fladday

I was surprised to add two taxa to the list for NG55: Salix repens var. argentea (the silvery variety of Creeping Willow), which I did not record separately during the Raasay Flora days, and Triglochin maritima (Sea Arrowgrass).

There was a sallow near Torran which is very close to Salix cinerea subsp. oleifolia (Rusty Willow)  – a decent-sized tree with smooth grey bark, leaves that are dark and shiny above with rust-coloured hairs underneath – but with persistent stipules (“ears”).

Sx x multinervis 1

Sx x multinervis 2a

Updated: From discussion with Irina Belyaeva-Chamberlain I learn that persistent stipules are frequent on this and related willows (e.g. S. caprea), so Salix cinerea subsp. oleifolia it is.

It was a good day for butterflies, moth larvae and dragons and damsels. This female Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) was particularly obliging:

Common Darter Female

Female Sympetrum striolatum

Heather Flies (Bibio pomonae) with their dangling red legs are now out in large numbers – it is that time of year.

Records from Rum

August 18, 2017

Nick Stewart has sent over 800 records from three days on Rum, adding Alchemilla filicaulis subsp. vestita (Common Lady’s mantle), Rosa canina (Dog-rose) and Hieracium latobrigorum (Yellow-styled Hawkweed) to the 10km square NG30. The only previous record for this hawkweed on Rum was by W A Clark, J W Heslop Harrison’s son-in-law, in 1938 and appears to have been arbitrarily assigned to NM39. Perhaps it should have been NG30…?

He made new tetrad records for various plants including Carex pauciflora (Few-flowered Sedge), Chara virgata (Delicate Stonewort), Drosera intermedia (Oblong-leaved Sundew) and Epilobium obscurum (Short-fruited Willowherb).

Centunculus minimus (Chaffweed) at Harris refreshes a JWHH record from the 1930s and Nitella translucens (Translucent Stonewort) in NG3501 may explain JWHH’s record from Glen Shellesder, not previously re-found.

WFS on Skye

August 17, 2017

I was delighted to receive some records from The Wild Flower Society following their recent visit to Skye. They added Berberis buxifolia (Box-leaved Barberry) to the vice-county list and made new hectad (10km square) records for a further eight taxa.  The latter were mostly introductions but a muddy roadside edge near Sligachan yielded Centunculus minimus (Chaffweed) and Juncus ranarius (Frog Rush). Both of these are scattered around the coast but whilst I have seen Chaffweed in muddy roadsides, this is the first time Frog Rush has turned up in this habitat in VC104.