Archive for April, 2018


April 15, 2018

The moth trap a few days ago attracted 28 moths including this micro that I have not had before:

Agonopterix ocellana

Agonopterix ocellana

which has been given the name Red-letter Flat-body. Names for micro-moths do not seem to have caught on – I think I can see why….

This spider is, I think, Tegenaria domestica , the Common House Spider – though with no records in VC104 on the NBN Atlas.

Spider 180407

Common House Spider

Thanks to Seth for both these identifications.

I have also been finding River Limpet (Ancylus fluviatilis) and Water Cricket (Velia caprai) when out and about having had these brought to my attention by Seth.

Geary Ravine and the coast to the North

April 15, 2018

Geary Ravine is a plant-rich SSSI that I have not visited since 2008. This time I was hoping to find Saxifraga oppositifolia (Purple Saxifrage), recorded there in 1972 and 1982. I failed on this but did find Carlina vulgaris (Carline Thistle), also 1972 and 1982, and Hymenophyllum wilsonii (Wilson’s Filmy-fern), last seen in 1972.

Carlina vulgaris Geary

Carlina vulgaris at Geary

The Equisetum hyemale (Rough Horsetail or Dutch Rush) was doing well:

Equisetum hyemale (Rough Horsetail) at Geary

Equisetum hyemale at Geary

I then headed north along the coast towards Caisteal an Fhithich though time and tide stopped be getting to it. It looks unscalable by mere mortals anyway.

Caisteal an Fhithich

Caisteal an Fhithich

This sits in a tetrad with no previous vascular plant records and I was able to find 91 plants, which feels OK for mid-April. There was Vicia sylvatica (Wood Vetch) and Orchis mascula (Early-purple Orchid) not yet in flower, but some of the Angelica sylvestris (Wild Angelica) and Geum rivale (Water Avens) was just about there.

Orchis mascula

Orchis mascula

Angelica sylvestris (Wild Angelica)

Angelica sylvestris

SNG in Dunvegan Woods

April 15, 2018

Skye Nature Group walked the Two Churches Walk at Dunvegan on Wednesday. We recorded various invertebrates – molluscs, insects, arachnids, myriapods – plus some birds, a frog plus many tadpoles and of course I made plant lists.

Gerris costae

The pondskater Gerris costae       Image S. Gibson

The route took us through two tetrads and we added 15 taxa to the northern one, NG24P, and 44 to the less well recorded southern one, NG24N.

The woods have various planted shrubs such as Olearia macrodonta (New Zealand Holly) and Griselinia littoralis (New Zealand Broadleaf), the latter making the first record in the wild in VC104.

Griselinia littoralis

Griselinia littoralis

Something we thought might be a Cotoneaster has leaves similar in shape to C. salicifolius (Willow-leaved Cotoneaster) but they are larger than reported in the literature and lacking a tomentose underside – both of which might be effects of shading. Once identified, the leafspot fungus will probably be straightforward! I shall have to go back in the summer – as I will to check putative Ulex minor (Dwarf Gorse) and Lonicera nitida (Wilson’s Honeysuckle).

Cotoneaster sp. maybe

Cotoneaster sp. maybe

Dwarf Gorse is thought always to be an introduction in Scotland where it is sometimes planted as an ornamental and can escape. Given the number of other planted/naturalised plants in this area, that would seem likely. It is not known from the NW Highlands or any of the islands and so I want to see it in flower before recording it. Well done Seth for spotting it!


April 3, 2018

My contribution to the April edition of the Raasay Newsletter concerns the primrose and is available via a link here.

Skye Nature Group Returns to the Sea

April 2, 2018

We went back to Broadford Bay yesterday and found lots of things we hadn’t seen last time.  Such as:

shag rug sea slugs

Shag-rug nudibranch (Aeolidia papillosa)

Astropecten irregularis maybe

Astropecten irregularis (maybe)

Peanut worms

Peanut Worms      Image: S. Terry

spider crab

Spider Crab – but which?    Image: S. Terry

Yarrell's Blenny

Yarrell’s Blenny     Image: S. Terry

Yarrell’s Blenny was a really good find – unknown from rock pools until 2008.

comb jelly

Comb jelly     Image: S. Terry

Spotted by Judith but easier to see its shadow!


North of Kilt Rock

April 1, 2018

There were four 10km squares in the vice-county where the only records for Saxifraga oppositifolia (Purple Saxifrage) were from before 2000. (There are also quite a lot of squares where it has never been recorded.) One of these was NG56 where it was recorded in 1980 from North of Kilt Rock, NG5066, on boulder scree.

Yesterday I went looking and found what is almost certainly the same site just over the monad border in NG5067 – fair enough given 1980 was well before GPS receivers were available.  I also found a few plants in NG5066 at the base of a cliff about 160m from the original site. No point in posting another picture of this plant – see previous post!

The Skye Botany Group went there last year and when Ro and I climbed up the scree we must have missed the saxifrage by a few feet at most.  Given that we were there last year it is not surprising that I only added two to the tetrad list.  However, one of these, Tripleurospermum maritimum (Sea Mayweed), was the first localised record and the first post-1999 record for NG56.

The fertile stems of Equisetum telmateia (Great Horsetail) were emerging:

Equisetum telmateia

Equisetum telmateia (Great Horsetail)

Oisgill and Elsewhere

April 1, 2018

On Friday Seth, Tony and I went to Oisgill so that I could show them Ribes spicatum (Downy Currant) and Saxifraga oppositifolia (Purple Saxifrage). They had to take my word that the Ribes is this species as it has yet to sprout any leaves let alone flowers, but there is a good population of over 60 plants there.

Ribes spicatum

Ribes spicatum (Downy Currant)

The saxifrage, however, was flowering well as expected at this time of year.

Saxifraga oppositifolia

Saxifraga oppositifolia (Purple Saxifrage)

We added eight taxa to the tetrad plant list, though two of these were the result of subspecies recording, captured some ants and spotted other invertebrates before moving on Abhainn an Lòin Mhòir near Dunvegan.  Here we added 12 to the tetrad plant list – the result of my not having recorded along the river gorge before – and did well for stoneflies, river limpets and native flatworms. Seth tells me that a large stonefly that had to be collected from my face was Perlodes mortoni, a recently split endemic (previously lumped with the Continental P. microcephalus).

After that, as a special treat,  I took them to my favourite quarry, east of Dunvegan where material from Dunvegan Castle gardens has been dumped years ago, plus an exciting collection of rusting white goods. Here apart from the unusual plants I have reported before, we spotted a New Zealand Flatworm (Arthurdendyus triangulatus), Field Vole (Microtus agrestis), Palmate Newt (Lissotriton helveticus), Water Cricket (Velia caprai) and Garden Snails (Cornu aspersum)