Planning for 2019 Part 2

Taxa per tetrad recorded from 2000 to 2018 are shown here:

tetrads 2000+ all

Some of those red squares really do have no plants, the only land being bare rock just above the high water line. More usefully, in terms of targets, the following tetrads have >5% land and <50 taxa recorded post-1999 :

Tetrad Taxa post-99 % land



























These, or most of these, are a priority if only to achieve a sense of completeness. Many are not suitable for Skye Botany Group outings as they are a long walk in and/or potentially dull. An exception is NG47G where a walk along the Kilmaluag River should be profitable.

NG41T and Y will be tackled by boat from Elgol. Nick and I plan to do this and our skipper from last year’s Soay trip said he could drop us near Ulfhart Point. Others may wish to join us but be warned, this looks like rough country.

Someone who shall remain nameless has been promising to do NG52D and E for many a year but the time has come for me to do them. The remainder, I shall trudge into.

I have been through taxon by taxon looking at distribution maps like this one, where red dots on yellow squares mean a plant has not been seen in the hectad since before 2000 but has an earlier grid reference at least at the tetrad level – and often better.


For Skye, Raasay and Scalpay only (i.e. omitting the Small Isles, Soay and Rona) I have traced and analysed records of this type . This has been a subjective exercise both in terms of taxon selection and where there are several red dots for a taxon in a single yellow square, how many to trace.  I have mostly not included hybrids, microspecies and neophytes.

I ended up with 831 records of 299 taxa in 281 tetrads. Of the 299 taxa, 84 are listed in the VC104 Rare Plant Register.

Some of these are known to have gone e.g. a pool at Corran, Kensaleyre that contained Ruppia maritima was no longer there by 1997. Some I have already looked for and given time constraints I am unlikely to have another go this year.

Clearly, there are too many to attempt them all, so here are those 831 by hectad:


It looks like NG71 deserves some attention. The top ten tetrads in this system, each with ten or more taxa not re-found are:

Tetrad Location Count
NG64E Umachan, Raasay 26
NG26R Geary 20
NG71C Kinloch 14
NG50Z Tarskavaig/Achnacloich 14
NG71B Isleornsay/Duisdalemore 14
NG52Q Torrin 13
NG13Z Loch an Fhridhein 13
NG37Q Bornesketaig 11
NG26F Trumpan 11
NG32P Stockval/Loch Sleadale 10

Some of these could well make suitable sites for Skye Botany Group outings.

It is worth remembering that tetrad recording was not commonly undertaken in VC104 before 2000, so only 201 tetrads had 50 or more taxa recorded (and 125 had 100 or more of which 32 were down to my activities on Raasay). Some of the tetrads listed above are there because they are/were relative hotspots and so attracted recording last century.

Hectads shared with other vice-counties (NG60, NG71, NM47 with VC 97 (West-Invernessshire), NG63, NG64, NG65 with VC 105 (West Ross) and NG72, NG82 with both VC 97 and VC 105) arguably deserve less attention as there are also hectad records from these other VCs.

The taxa appearing in the Rare Plants Register also deserve more effort than the rest but I am going to stop there as I seem to have found enough to do for rather more than one recording season.

9 Responses to “Planning for 2019 Part 2”

  1. skyenaturegroup Says:

    You may have left us a bit of a task for the final field season before The Atlas, but it’s been a damn sight better planned and organised than anything the government could muster re Brexit. I knew we should have put you in charge…

  2. Neil Roberts Says:

    Impressive number crunching, Stephen. If you want company on any of the bog-slogs, give me a shout. Won’t add anything in the way of botanical expertise but it’s always nice to have someone to inform your next of kin!

  3. Neil Roberts Says:

    I’m happy to go in to 35I by kayak and give it a quick look. If I take lots of pictures you should be able to get a few ticks. It doesn’t look like vertical cliff.
    Sorry if I’m using this site incorrectly, I’m new to the format.

    • Stephen Says:

      Comments like this are fine. Delighted if you can get to places other botanists cannot reach. Did you mean 35I? – hardly any land (0.4%), looks pretty steep and I don’t think I mentioned it….? Having said that, anything you found there would be a new tetrad record 🙂

  4. Duisdale | Plants of Skye, Raasay & The Small Isles Says:

    […] and last month Jim did the same with Veronica arvensis (Wall Speedwell) at Kinloch Lodge. When planning for this season I said “It looks like NG71 deserves some attention” so now it has had some. It would be […]

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