Archive for May, 2019

June Skye Botany Group

May 31, 2019

We are going to Torrin on Tuesday 18th June – a nice limestone area with some previously recorded plants that are missing post-1999. If you are not on the mailing list and would like to join us, please get in touch. (Comment here initially or e-mail me – see here.)

Other Plant News

May 31, 2019

Ged did the Four Tops of Mhadaidh and Bidein Druim nan Ramh last week and sent images of various plants adding five to the tetrad, an increase of 26% on the existing post-1999 list for tetrad NG42L!

The new records were for Blechnum spicant (Hard-fern), Dryopteris dilatata (Broad Buckler-fern), Luzula sylvatica (Great Wood-rush), Phegopteris connectilis (Beech Fern), Rubus saxatilis (Stone Bramble) and Thymus polytrichus (Wild Thyme)

I may try a walk in from Loch Coruisk having got the boat from Elgol, to add some low-altitude species.

Meanwhile in Waterloo, Linda has found Ornithogalum umbellatum (Star-of-Bethlehem) as an established alien  – a first for VC104

Ornithogalum umbellatum (Star-of-Bethlehem)

Ornithogalum umbellatum (Star-of-Bethlehem)         Image S. Terry

Skye Nature Group – Uig Woods

May 31, 2019

Seth led an excellent walk concentrating on invertebrates in his home patch on Wednesday. I am sure he will be writing this up on his blog so here is just one item that I liked, a gall on Prunus spinosa (Blackthorn) caused by the fungus Taphrina pruni.

Taphrina pruni

Taphrina pruni on Blackthorn


Aliens Day

May 31, 2019

I spent some time in the Prabost area and across toward Borve recently and apart from new sites for Carex canescens (White Sedge) and Equisetum pratense (Shady Horsetail), most of the interest was from garden escapes or throw-outs. My predecessor as vice-county recorder lived in Prabost and there are a number of plants that have escaped along the road from her garden such as Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. argentatum (Garden Yellow-archangel),  Lunaria annua (Honesty),  Meconopsis cambrica (Welsh Poppy), Ribes nigrum (Black Currant) and Tolmiea menziesii (Pick-a-back-plant).

Lamiastrum & Tolmeia

Lamiastrum & Tolmiea

Not far away there was a new site for Acaena inermis (Spineless Acaena) and in a couple of lay-bys on the main Portree to Uig road there was Aquilegia vulgaris (Columbine), Ligustrum ovalifolium (Garden Privet), Persicaria bistorta (Common Bistort) and Symphoricarpos x chenaultii (Pink Snowberry).

Symphoricarpos x chenaultii (Pink Snowberry)

Symphoricarpos x chenaultii (Pink Snowberry)

Five new hectad records in that lot.  And then there was a crack willow that I haven’t managed to pin down yet – 5m tall but with small leaves for this group.

Crack Willow

Crack Willow

Records Received

May 21, 2019

Various folks have sent interesting records recently:

The day after the Skye Botany Group outing, Ro went to Loch Beag and the surrounding area in tetrad NG45E to re-find Carex limosa (Bog-sedge) and Eleogiton fluitans (Floating Club-rush) not recorded in NG45 since before 2000. She succeeded in both and also made a major improvement to records in that tetrad more generally.

Seth had sent records from near Borve and Rubha Phòil adding a number of tetrad records and adding Thuja plicata (Western Red-cedar) to the Skye list (though known from Raasay and with older records from Rum and Eigg).

Neil has spotted Tellima grandiflora (Fringecups) near the main road through Glen Varragill, a new 10km square record.

Up in the hills, Paul sent me pictures of plants in Coire na Banachdich in 2016 and added Arabidopsis petraea (Northern Rock-cress) and Saxifraga stellaris (Starry Saxifrage) to the tetrad, while Rob sent me various plant images from high in the Cuillins last year.

Meanwhile, Birna had been to see the Potamogeton coloratus (Fen Pondweed) in Loch Cill Chriosd and the Eriocaulon aquaticum (Pipewort) in Loch nam Madah Uisge.

Potomageton coloratus LCC Birna Rørslet (1)

Potomageton coloratus © Birna Rørslett

Potomageton coloratus LCC Birna Rørslet (2)

Potomageton coloratus © Birna Rørslett

Many thanks to all for the records and for permission to use images. If I have missed someone out who made an important find recently, I apologise. Please tell me so that I can feature you later.

Those Red Squares

May 18, 2019

Neil has now paddled to the east side of Longay to record in NG63Q and in passing had a look at the northern tip of Pabay where NG62U features on the list of VC104 tetrads. The latter, as shown on the OS map, has no land above the high water mark and unsurprisingly, Neil found it to contain no plants. There are several like this in the vice-county and in future editions of my tetrad numbers map I shall turn these another colour meaning there really are zero vascular plants.

Yesterday Neil kindly shared his double kayak with me and we went to Griana-sgeir off Fladday (itself off Raasay) as this is the only land in NG55Q and never recorded before. We found 23 plants in this small outpost, normally the domain of seals and seabirds.



There is an area of shell sand but it lies entirely below the high water mark, so does not influence the vegetation. The major environmental factor apart from the exposed coastal location appears to be the seabirds, adding nitrogenous material to the area.

Gull nest

Gull nest

I spotted this fly on a dandelion and await Murdo’s verdict, though it may not be possible to determine from an image. I had no net or containers with me, but I did capture some ants….

Fly on Griana-sgeir

Fly on Griana-sgeir

We did not land on Glas Eilean as there is a large tern colony – we estimated about 200 birds, but we did go to Fraoch Eilean which was very different from Griana-sgeir, having rowan trees and bracken – but still only 28 plant species recorded.  Both these islands are in a tetrad that has been well recorded on Raasay but I had never been to them before.

Neil spotted a fabulous little moth Pammene rhediella (Fruitlet Mining Tortrix) on the rowan (there were quite a number of them):

Pammene rhediella

Pammene rhediella on rowan


Skye Botany Group at Kilmaluag

May 15, 2019

Yesterday Skye Botany Group went to Kilmaluag to record in a poorly recorded area and try to re-find Tea-leaved Willow last reported there in 1997. We added Chara virgata (Delicate Stonewort), Meconopsis cambrica (Welsh Poppy), Scrophularia nodosa (Common Figwort) and Cortaderia richardii (Early Pampas-grass) to the 10km square, found Senecio vulgaris (Groundsel) for the first time there since 1965 and had little trouble finding the willow. This was the first patch; later ones were much bigger:

Salix phylicifolia

Salix phylicifolia

We recorded a total of 191 taxa, something of an improvement over the 50 ever recorded there in the past. Some interesting invertebrates, too.

The next SBG outing will probably be in the third week of June to Torrin.

Coir a’ Ghrunnda

May 13, 2019

I had never been into tetrad NG41P at the southern end of the Cuillins and there were only 21 post-1999 records for it plus about the same from before. Yesterday I went with the intention of doing something about that by visiting the two lochans, the Allt Coir a’ Ghrunnda and the higher rocks for alpines. All this was achieved and the total taxon count now stands at 95.

This view from part of the way up shows Soay in the foreground then Eigg and Rum, and in the distance Muck:

Islands from Coir a' Ghrunnda

Islands from Coir a’ Ghrunnda

There were two plants recorded from the more southerly lochan that have not been recorded in NG41 since before 2000: Isoetes lacustris (Quillwort) and Sparganium natans (Least Bur-reed). I only found the former.

However, I added Salix x ambigua (S. aurita x repens)to NG41. It is quite widespread in the Black Cuillins in NG42 so it was no great surprise to find it just over the 10km square boundary. The first one I found was in open ground and grazed but as I worked my way up the corry there was quite a lot more, some fruiting:

Salix phylicifolia

I found that I had wandered so far up Coir a’ Ghrunnda that I was within 20m of the next tetrad north, NG42K, and not far inside it there was Loch Coir a’ Ghrunnda, so I made the extra effort.

Loch Coir a' Ghrunnda

Loch Coir a’ Ghrunnda

The only vascular plant I could see in the loch was Juncus bulbosus (Bulbous Rush) but there was a good colony of Saussurea alpina (Alpine Saw-wort) nearby.

Part way up I spotted this cranefly:



Thinking that pattern on the thorax like a gurning gargoyle would make it easy to identify, I didn’t take it. Doh! My friendly fly experts can’t do it from the image. On the bright side I did take a couple of crane-flies from 600-700m altitude so I am hoping that they turn out to be interesting.

Duisdale (Updated)

May 10, 2019

A walk along the shore and adjacent woodlands near Duisdalemore yesterday was very useful in terms of re-finding plants not recorded in the whole of NG71 since before 2000. Ceratocapnos claviculata (Climbing Corydalis), Mentha aquatica (Water Mint), Prunus spinosa (Blackthorn) and Suaeda maritima (Annual Sea-blite) all fell into this group yesterday 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 useful to re-find Eupatorium cannabinum (Hemp-agrimony) at Ardnameacan some time and I am planning a high-level wander from Ben Aslak to Beinn na Seamraig to pick up a few other missing taxa.

Ceratocapnos claviculata (Climbing Corydalis)

Ceratocapnos claviculata (Climbing Corydalis)

Near the shore there was Berberis julianae (Chinese Barberry). Thanks Seth! The pictures show the  yellow flower, the evergreen leaves with few spines and the tripartite stem spines:

This is the first record for the vice-county.

I was attracted to this ancient ivy on oak, blending in very well from a distance and clearly the big old tree is not suffering from being used as a climbing frame:

Ivy on Oak

Ivy on Oak

Things in flower recently:

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Skye Botany Group

May 8, 2019

We visited the eastern ridge of Sgùrr nan Gillean yesterday whh was a great day but we again failed to find the Kalmia procumbens (Trailing Azalea) recorded there in 1982. I am now wondering if we should have gone higher.

However, we did find Anthostemella alchemillae, a small fungus that grows on dead leaves of Alchemilla alpina (Alpine Lady’s-mantle). This is one of the fungi featured in the Lost and Found Fungi Project.

Anthostomella alchemillae

Anthostomella alchemillae

Last night Seth did a squash and checked the spores. See his blog.

Otherwise, we added a few plant taxa to this tetrad which still hasn’t quite reached a count of 100 – but that is the Cuillin for you.