A Day of Surprises

John told me recently that there was now a (vehicle-grade) track all the way though Waternish Forest so today I used this to walk to NG35D, a tetrad with no records that before the track was built looked like a serious matter to get into. It is still a fair walk but the track goes right through the tetrad.

Unsurprisingly the new track is something of a botanical desert but once onto the adjacent crags and along the burns I managed a total of 117 taxa. The best thing in the target area was Orthilia secunda (Serrated Wintergreen):

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Orthilia secunda (Serrated Wintergreen)

Elsewhere along the route I encountered several surprising plants:

The first Skye record for Erodium cicutarium (Common Stork’s-bill) since 1988. There were seven plants by the track and this was also the only spot I saw Sedum anglicum (English Stonecrop) making me think this is probably natural colonisation as also present were Aira praecox (Early Hair-grass) and Sagina procumbens (Procumbent Pearlwort), the whole assemblage being similar to coastal habitats where I might have expected to find the Erodium.

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Erodium cicutarium (Common Stork’s-bill)

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Erodium cicutarium site

Also by the track was this:

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I can only think it is Epipactis helleborine (Broad-leaved Helleborine), a very rare plant locally. I would be grateful for any other ideas (See comments below) but will probably have to go back later in the year. It is a heck of a long way for one plant that may have been eaten by deer or flattened by a forestry lorry….

And there was this Acaena:

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Acaena sp.

The upper leaf surfaces are devoid of hairs leading one to Acaena inermis (Spineless Acaena), the one that is quite widespread on Raasay and slowly moving onto Skye BUT the distal leaflets are longer than broad leading one more into Acaena anserinifolia (Bronze Pirri-pirri-bur), the one Seth found at Uig. I shall have to go back later. It is only May and my Go Back And Check list is getting longer and longer……

In passing I did some good to tetrad NG25Y, improving the taxon count from 78 to 120 and also mad records in passing in NG25T, U and Z which I have yet to process.

This still leaves the nearby NG35E with no records, but it is only 6.3% land whereas NG35D is 69.2 % and was taxon with zero records with the largest land area. That accolade now falls on NG41T with 48.1% land.

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4 Responses to “A Day of Surprises”

  1. Terry swainbank Says:

    Does not look like an epipactis. More like platanthera.

  2. Stephen Says:

    Ah – good thought. It is very robust so I think would have to be P. chlorantha. Thank you.

  3. Nick Hodgetts Says:

    The Orthilia growing out of a nice patch of Breutelia chrysocoma (bottlebrush moss) – new for the tetrad!

  4. Stephen Says:

    Excellent!

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