Archive for September, 2017

Loch Duagrich

September 30, 2017

The Skye Botany Group had such a good day at Loch Duagrich a couple of years ago, that we decided to go back armed with a bathyscope and a grapnel. The first throw of the grapnel produced a large quantity of Nitella translucens (Translucent Stonewort), a charophyte with very few records in the vice-county.  Maybe greater use of the grapnel would increase the known distribution quite a bit.

The other significant find was of this plant, which may be terrestrial Apium inundatum (Lesser Marshwort):

Plant from Loch Duagrich LR

Apium inundatum?

It was there two years ago. I had intended to return earlier in the season in the hope of finding a flower or fruit,  but forgot about it. It is on gravel beside the loch but not actually in the water. Opinions welcome! There are two undated, unlocalised and generally doubtful records for Skye, and the only certain population in VC104 appears to have gone from Sanday, so this would be a really nice find.

We collected specimens of Subularia aquatica (Awlwort) for the University of Toulouse and the Elatine hexandra (Six-stamened Waterwort) was doing well.

In passing we recorded 102 vascular plants in the monad NG3939; apart from Nitella translucens and maybe Apium inundatum, only Carex leporina (Oval Sedge) was new to the tetrad.

Afterwards I collected the few remaining fruits on a stand of Sparganium erectum (Branched Bur-reed) near the Amar River for Mike Wilcox to have a look at, in order to determine the subspecies.

Latest Publications

September 28, 2017

The note written by myself and Seth concerning his discovery of Mitella ovalis (Bishop’s-cap) at Uig has now been published in BSBI News. It is available via a link here. My contribution to the October Raasay Community Newsletter concerns violets and pansies and will be available from the same page next week. Later: Now available.

Meanwhile here is a Small Wainscot from last night’s trap:

Moth 6 Small Wainscot

Small Wainscot

Frog Rush

September 15, 2017

Following the discovery of Juncus ranarius (Frog Rush) as a roadside plant as well as a coastal plant on Skye by Ian Green and the Wildflower Society. I found it in two roadside places myself during my Roadside Mud expedition.

Andy Amphlett and Ian have been finding it elsewhere in the Highlands e.g. along the A9 and I am now wondering just how much of the J. bufonius agg. along our main roads (of which there is plenty) belongs to this species. At the end of the day it is not too surprising that this salt-tolerant plant is among those found on our roadsides.

There only seem to be two reliable differences – the distal end of the inner tepals and the seed surface.

J bufonius & ranarius tepals

Inner tepals: Juncus bufonius (LEFT) & J ranarius (RIGHT)       Photo M. Wilcox

Juncus bufonius agg seeds - A = J foliosus, B = J. bufonius, C = J ranarius

Juncus bufonius agg. seeds – A = J foliosus, B = J. bufonius, C = J ranarius

From Cope, T.A. & Stace, C.A. 1978. The Juncus bufonius L. aggregate in western Europe. Watsonia 12, 113-128.

I have included J. foliosus as that too is found in our area (rarely) but in very wet marshy areas – and that is distinctive in other ways such as having wider leaves.

Thanks to Mike, Ian and Andy for getting me up to speed with this.

Roadside Mud

September 7, 2017

On Tuesday, I toured quite a large part of Skye peering at muddy roadsides. My principal aim was to improve coverage for Centunculus minimus (Chaffweed) – so much easier than clambering along the rocky coasts that seem to be its natural habitat here. It seems to like the larger roads, perhaps because they get more salt, and is usually associated with Juncus bufonius (Toad Rush) and Gnaphalium uliginosum (Marsh Cudweed).

My Chaffweed Tour resulted in a record for one new 10 km square (NG62 in two sites) and records in two 10 km squares with no post-2000 records: NG33 and NG61.

In passing I made the first record in NG60 for Polygonum arenastrum (Equal-leaved Knotgrass). This is our common representative of the P. aviculare aggregate though P. aviculare sensu stricto does also occur. It likes ruderal habitats – tracks, field gates and muddy roadsides.

I intend to repeat the exercise next year in the northern parts of Skye I didn’t reach this week and where there are several 10 km squares with no records for Chaffweed.

I gave myself a little light relief and visited Tarskavig Bay, where I had last been in 2006, I had forgotten that it had nice things like Bolboschoenus maritimus (Sea Club-rush), Lycopus europaeus (Gypsywort) and Persicaria amphibia (Amphibious Bistort) as well as the locally very uncommon Artemisia vulgaris (Mugwort) (Six sites in VC104 post-1999). I was pleased to find Centaurium erythraea (Common Centaury) still in flower – another uncommon species on Skye.

In Tarskavig some Anaphalis margaritacea (Pearly Everlasting) has escaped from a garden. There are only two earlier records for this on Skye, one of which was within Lyndale House grounds, which feels a bit dodgy to me.

Anaphalis margaritacea

Anaphalis margaritacea (Pearly Everlasting)

I was checking more Calystegia (Bindweeds) and found some infected with the fungus Septoria convolvuli, which seems to be locally common.

Septoria convolvuli on calystegia sepium

Septoria convolvuli on Calystegia sepium



September 6, 2017

My contribution to the September issue of the Raasay Community Newsletter concerns Eelgrass and can be found via a link here.

White Spindles

September 3, 2017

Returning to Coir an t-Seasgaich  for some bryophyte work with Nick, I spotted Clavaria fragilis (= Clavaria vermicularis) at about 500m.  This has a variety of common names: fairy fingers, white worm coral, or white spindles and I last saw it on Dun Caan, Raasay two years ago.

Clavaria fragilis

Clavaria fragilis

Maybe it should be called Bean Sprouts.

Caol Rona

September 3, 2017

We walked to the north end of Raasay on Friday – about 4 miles from Arnish.  The weather was good – that was why we chose Friday – and we had encounters with Red Deer, Common Dolphins and a flypast by a fine Golden Eagle.

Some plant recording refreshed records from NG65; ideally more should be done before the Atlas 2020 cut-off in two years’ time.

Curiously, there were quite a lot of Chevron moths flying, though these are not noted daytime fliers.  Also a fine Knot Grass caterpillar: