Archive for July, 2021

Urban Finds

July 26, 2021

The survey of Portree for the Urban Flora of Scotland continues to yield useful results. The following three garden escapes are new to VC104:

and this is the first Skye record for 52 years (though known on Rum):

Astrantia major


July 20, 2021

I see that it is nearly two weeks since I last posted. Here are a few items from that period. John has found Luzula luzuloides (White Wood-rush) by a woodland path on Eigg. This is a neophyte that is grown for ornament, naturalised in woods and by shady streams, scattered throughout most of Britain, but mainly in Scotland. However, this is the first record for vice-county 104.

Luzula luzuloides from Eigg

Seth, Joanna, Caroline and I have been surveying Portree for the Urban Flora of Scotland project. Seth has found a patch of Ligustrum vulgare (Wild Privet) which has either been missed before or overlooked as Ligustrum ovalifolium (Garden Privet), the commoner of the two on Skye.

Frustratingly, the Philadelphus he found last autumn is not flowering this year, presumably because it is shaded. It is luxuriant enough, just not flowering. I may have to grow some on.

Joanna has re-found the Vicia orobus (Wood Bitter-vetch) in NG25, last recorded in 1958 but now with a precise grid reference.

Vicia orobus at Coral Beach Image: J Walmisley

I have been finding new fungi on various plants:

July has been good for moths. I had 44 in the trap about a week ago and then on Sunday I moved it about 200m to a spot with various trees, Bog Myrtle, Bell Heather, Purple Moor-grass etc. and caught over 100. They have taken a lot of sorting out but I have had lots of generous help from various folks. New to my West Suisnish list of adult moths:

Barred RedHylaea fasciaria
Scalloped OakCrocallis elinguaria
Dark Pine Knot-hornDioryctria abietellaR
Mountain PearlUdea uliginosalisR
Inlaid Grass-veneerCrambus pascuella
Satin Grass-veneerCrambus perlellaR
Straw DotRivula sericealis
Welsh WaveVenusia cambrica
Marsh Oblique-barredHypenodes humidalisR
Species in green are micro-moths. Species marked “R” have few records in VC104

Two Days in July

July 8, 2021

On Tuesday I visited Phil at Drumfearn who is managing his croft for wildlife. He has changed areas of Molinia into havens for a large variety of plants, invertebrates, birds and other vertebrates. This has been achieved largely by natural regeneration plus native tree and shrub planting from locally-sourced material.

There were lots of Greater Butterfly-orchids (Platanthera chlorantha) and I saw my first Golden-ringed Dragonfly (Cordulegaster boltonii) of the year. He showed me where Galeopsis speciosa (Large-flowered Hemp-nettle) had emerged from disturbed ground a few years back and there were quite a few specimens of Malva moschata (Musk-mallow), both pretty rare on Skye.

Afterwards, I walked the southern shore of Loch Eishort from Drumfearn to where the Abhainn Ceann Loch Eiseoirt feeds the loch in the east. Much of this is in a tetrad (NG61T) that did not get well covered in the Atlas 2020 recording but it is quite rich botanically and I increased the vascular plant taxon count from 131 to 184. I found this bug, which is not rare but was new to me:

Neolygus contaminatus

Then yesterday, half a dozen of us went to inspect Ophioglossum azoricum (Small Adder’s-tongue) on Raasay. The main site we visited had over 1000 plants and another known site still had about 10 – not too different from when I last checked these two sites in 2008. Nick and Seth each discovered new sites not far away and are now inspired to look for them on Skye. This was a particularly large specimen:

Ophioglossum azoricum (Small Adder’s-tongue)

We also found two different Plume Moths, Thyme Plume and Twin-spot Plume, Satyr Pug and a micromoth that is Bryotropha sp., a Gelechid. Later: B. boreella (Mountain Groundling) Not the greatest moth pictures, but for the record:

Stockval & Loch Sleadale

July 5, 2021

Ten members of Skye Botany Group visted Stockval & Loch Sleadale in NG32 a few days ago. This was partly a first go at looking for notable species not recorded since 2000 as per BSBI’s new SHARP Project. The target species for this in NG32 are

  • Atriplex praecox (Early Orache) – on the shore rather than where we were
  • Callitriche hermaphroditica (Autumnal Water-starwort) – probably a recording error
  • Carex vesicaria (Bladder-sedge) – probably a recording error
  • Hippuris vulgaris (Mare’s-tail) – probably a recording error
  • Pseudorchis albida (Small-white Orchid)

We didn’t find any of these. The only one I had hopes for was P. albida but we only had a six-figure grid reference from before the days of GPS. It was probably a single spike in 1993 and it is well known to come and go from year to year. So, a bit of a needle in a haystack job.

We did, however, re-find the following less notable species with no records in NG32 since before 2000:

  • Diphasiastrum alpinum (Alpine Clubmoss)
  • Eleogiton fluitans (Floating Club-rush)
  • Nymphaea alba (White Water-lily).

Also, Neottia cordata (Lesser Twayblade) was completely new to NG32, and just over the border Dryopteris expansa (Northern Buckler-fern) was new to NG33.

Skye Botany Group in Action Image I Moir

Early July

July 4, 2021

I have made a start in Portree on recording for the Urban Flora of Scotland project. Last week I surveyed one of the five 1 km squares that Portree spreads into. In the process I made a number of new tetrad records, so that cheered me up when I was wondering whether daisies were frequent or occasional. One was Petrosedum (previously Sedum) forsterianum (Rock Stonecrop) growing on top of a cemetery wall:

Petrosedum forsterianum

whilst others included Blysmus rufus (Saltmarsh Flat-sedge) and Puccinellia maritima (Common Saltmarsh-grass) on the shore below houses.

Away from the urban fringe I went looking for leaf mines on Sea Aster (Tripolium pannonicum, these days) hoping for the moth Bucculatrix maritima which would be new to VC104. Instead, I found fly mines which are made by Chromatomyia asteris – also new to the vice-county.

I have found a couple of small but colourful bugs on nettles in the past few days, Eupteryx urticae and Eupteryx aurata, the former having very few records this far north, but I suspect it is seriously under-recorded.

Near home I swept a small moth off a stand of Carex remota (Remote Sedge). It is an elachistid, perhaps Elachista humilis, which would be new to VC104. There is a single plant of Deschampsia cespitosa (Tufted Hair-grass) amongst the sedge, which is good as this is the food plant for E. humilis.

Elachista humilis maybe