Archive for May, 2018

Allt Tota Thaoig, Skriaig and Beinn na Greine

May 20, 2018

The tetrad containing Skriaig with its TV and radio transmitter had only three vascular plants recorded before yesterday, all from 1977/8, but one was Diphasiastrum alpinum (Alpine Clubmoss), something I always find strangely pleasing.  However, from adjacent areas this tetrad (NG44K) looks generally pretty uninspiring botanically.  Indeed some time in it yesterday resulted in records of a mere 75 plants including the three previously known. Yet amongst these were Lycopodium clavatum (Stag’s-horn Clubmoss) and Thalictrum alpinum (Alpine Meadow-rue) last recorded in NG44 in 1978 and 1974 respectively from the opposite end of this 10 km square.

Also present were Neottia cordata (Lesser Twayblade) and Salix herbacea (Dwarf Willow), two other plants that I like to find.


Salix herbacea (Dwarf Willow) Male flower

Because I was expecting a low count in NG44K, I approached from the east along the Allt Tota Thaoig which looked much richer. Besides, I couldn’t miss the chance to type “Allt Tota Thaoig”. This tetrad (NG44Q) already had 220 taxa recorded but I added nearly 50 more (imprecision owing to complexities of subspecies and aggregates). This tetrad also had Lycopodium clavatum (Stag’s-horn Clubmoss) and Neottia cordata (Lesser Twayblade).

Others additions of interest included Arabidopsis thaliana (Thale Cress) and Epilobium hirsutum (Great Willowherb), both infrequent in VC104 (60 and 16 tetrads respectively) and also naturalised Alnus rubra (Red Alder) and Ribes nigrum (Black Currant) both new to NG44.

Moth Trap

May 18, 2018

I put the trap in the polytunnel last night in an attempt to frustrate the robin who has noticed where I normally put it. By the time I got to it this morning it was quite warm in there so I don’t know how many moths had already disappeared, but most were not in the trap but on the walls of the polytunnel and pretty lively, creating something of a photographic challenge. One is still to be identified as it is still to be found lurking somewhere in the conservatory – perhaps at dusk?

I recorded 11, a twelfth being a bit too worn to be sure, including three Early Thorn and a Clouded Border:

Later: The thirteenth moth duly emerged and turned out to be a Brown Silver-line:


Brown Silver-line

Also, my annual two-banded longhorn beetle (Rhagium bifasciatum) turned up on the garage wall. Readers with long memories will remember that I see one of these every yar at almost exactly the same date. I mustn’t look around the garden too carefully lest I find a second and spoil my run….


Culnacnoc and Port Earlish

May 18, 2018

Skye Nature Group went rock-pooling yesterday at Port Earlish and beforehand I took the opportunity for a little botany in the adjacent area. I re-found Crepis capillaris (Smooth Hawk’s-beard) and Veronica arvensis (Wall Speedwell) in NG56 – firsts since before 2000 and added Rosa canina (Dog-rose), Rosa spinosissima (Burnet Rose), Aegopodium podagraria (Ground-elder) and Geranium macrorrhizum (Rock Crane’s-bill) to the NG56 list.

I am left wondering how this large block comes to be on the top of a very tall sea stack:

The SNG rock-pooling will be recorded elsewhere but here are a few images:

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Lorgill, Creag a’ Bhealaich-airigh & Ben Corkeval

May 18, 2018

In the winter there is not so much to write about here. Now there is so much going on I struggle to find time for the blog… Anyway, Wednesday saw me parking at Ramasaig and visiting the places mentioned in the title. Tetrad NG14W had 16 previous records yet contains a botanically rich stretch of the River Lorgill. That figure is now at 137. There were lot of nice things like Orchis mascula (Early-purple Orchid) and Polystichum aculeatum (Hard Shield-fern) along the river and up on Creag a’ Bhealaich-airigh masses of flowering Silene acaulis (Moss Campion)


Silene acaulis (Moss Campion)

and my first flowering Anthyllis vulneraria (Kidney Vetch) of the year:


Anthyllis vulneraria (Kidney Vetch)

I went on to Ben Corkeval which is in tetrad NG14X with only 4 previous records. Cutting across a corner of it, I have upped this to 56 but it is never going to be scored as species-rich. I was after three montane plants from previous records at or near the summit: Diphasiastrum alpinum (Alpine Clubmoss), Salix herbacea (Dwarf Willow) and Vaccinium vitis-idaea (Cowberry) but I only found the last. There really doen’t look to be any suitable habitat these days for Salix herbacea.

Among a range of interesting insects – they really are on the move now – was the caddis fly Philopotamus montanus in large numbers along the burns.


Philopotamus montanus


May 8, 2018

The moth trap last night attracted at least 24 moths, I say “at least” because when I went to it this morning I saw a robin take one off the wall. My favourite of today’s selection is the Streamer:



I also had a Black Sexton Beetle (Nicrophorus humator). I normally get Nicrophorus investigator, one of the ones with orange bands. NBN has no Raasay records for N. humator but Richard Moore reported it here “sporadically since 1999”. This one was a bit lively for a well-focused photo.


Nicrophorus humator

Bornesketaig and Fiskavaig

May 7, 2018

I have been chasing up records of plants that are known in particular 10km squares but have not been see there since before 2000. Near Bornesketaig I was after Arabidopsis thaliana (Thale Cress) for NG37 but failed. However, I succeeded with Eriophorum vaginatum (Hare’s-tail Cottongrass) and Phalaris arundinacea (Reed Canary-grass). There really wasn’t a lot of suitable habitat for the former but the latter is all over the place at Camas Mòr – I must have just left it off the list on my previous visit.

Today I went after Nymphaea alba (White Water-lily) for NG33 near Fiskavaig. That was easy enough given previous record details and I was pleased to add Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry) as new to NG33.

Two species of orchid were in flower:

as was Lathyrus linifolius (Bitter-vetch):


Lathyrus linifolius (Bitter-vetch)

There were several lots of Heath Navel (Lichenomphalia umbellifera), one Palmate Newt in a puddle and lots of these small flies on the Ficaria verna subsp. fertilis (Lesser Celandine).


Armadale and Eynort

May 2, 2018

Whilst I have been idling about, the Skye Nature Group went to Armadale yesterday for a bird-related event followed by a more general ramble. Amongst other things they found this:

Darmera peltata Armadale

Darmera peltata (Indian-rhubarb)   Image: S. Terry

There are no leaves at all yet and I am grateful to William Hinchliffe for the identification. Another first for VC104.

Steve has also been into two poorly recorded tetrads in Eynort Forest (NG32W & X) and done them some good – though neither can yet be described as species-rich.



May 1, 2018

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