Archive for August, 2021

Plants, Moths & Flies

August 24, 2021

Joanna found Cornus alba agg. (White or Red-osier Dogwood) in Portree, which made me re-examine plants on Raasay and at Flodigarry that had been recorded as C. sanguinea (Dogwood). They both turn out to be C. alba agg. too. It is not clear that C. alba and C. sericea, the two taxa that make up the aggregate, are in fact different species. Fruit is needed to separate these two reliably. The Flodigarry plant is not flowering so there is no hope of sorting that one out this year.

In Portree we also have a Filago/Logfia, which I think is Logfia (previously Filago) minima as the leaves are very small.

Logfia minima Small Cudweed. Divisions are mm.

This is a first for the vice-county. In the same area there are both Centaurium erythraea (Common Centaury) and Vulpia bromoides (Squirreltail Fescue), both infrequent locally.

Nick has found Euphorbia peplus (Petty Spurge) in his garden at Earlish, the only other localised records on Skye are from Kyleakin. I was less than delighted to spot Gunnera tinctoria (Giant-rhubarb) by the Allt Mòr north of Totador. It can become a monstrous invader.

Gunnera by the Allt Mòr

Ian S has re-found the Hammarbya paludosa (Bog Orchid) on Beinn Airean, Muck, previously recorded in 2007. This something I have looked for but failed to find.

On the moths front, the most interesting find was Prochoreutis myllerana (Miller’s nettle-tap or Small metal-mark). I found mines and pupating larvae on the host plant Scutellaria galericulata (Skullcap) and raised one to adulthood. Whilst that was going on I spotted two on flowers of Tripleurospermum maritimum (Sea Mayweed), just near the Skullcap. New to VC104.

Prochoreutis myllerana

I spotted Manchester Triple-bar in marshy moorland near Flodigarry. There are not that many records for the vice-county though Seth has also been finding it recently. Poor image taken through less than perfect plastic pot prior to release:

Manchester Treble-bar

I found and identified a fly mine on Filipendula ulmaria (Meadowsweet) that turns out to be new to the vice-county:

Agromyza filipendulae mine on Meadowsweet


August 13, 2021

In early June I took a piece of Prunus padus (Bird Cherry) that had some leaves tied together with silk in the hope of rearing a moth form the larva responsible. So far no moth has emerged, but a few days ago I found this nymph in the pot, which is Anthocoris sp., very probably A. nemorum (Common Flowerbug), though bright red is unusual.

Anthocoris nemorum nymph

A quick sweep with a net along the shore near the house a couple of days ago produced a number of different bugs, four of which I have identified:

The Philaenus spumarius is an unusual colour form and I have been baffled by the variation in this species before. I am grateful to Petro for sorting out the Lygus – a difficult group.

The Atriplex glabriuscula (Babington’s Orache) at the top of the shore is heavily galled; the leaves are rolled and some bracteoles are also galled by large numbers of this waxy green aphid:

Hayhurstia atriplicis

Mountain Sorrel & Hawkweeds

August 9, 2021

Last year a visitor to Skye reported Oxyria digyna (Mountain Sorrel) from Greshornish Point, just above sea level. This was an unusual site, this plant being found at least moderaely high up or else where it has been washed down along the course of a river. In the absence of an image or specimen, I didn’t add it to the database until it could be confirmed. A week or two ago Skye Botany Group went to look for it, but despite pretty clear instructions as to its location, we failed. However, Catherine, the original recorder, has now produced a photo of it and I am convinced she was right all along.

Oxyria at Greshornish Image C. Mowat (edited)

So, apologies to Catherine for ever doubting her – and congratulations on a new 10 km square record!

Fourteen Hieracium (Hawkweed) specimens from VC104 have been determined by David McCosh. Hieracium grampianum (Grampian Hawkweed) from Coire na Creiche on Skye, appears at first glance to be a first record for VC104 but a deeper look at the database shows that a 1979 record from Braes has recently been marked as rejected because “it is outside the known range”. This will need to be reviewed – and perhaps the plant should be looked for at the 1979 site: Balmeanach, Braes. I am grateful to Dave G for spotting this as something unusual when we were that way a couple of weeks too early to take a specimen.

Hieracium grampianum from Skye

Joanna found a hawkweed that has been determined as Hieracium beebyanum (Beeby’s Hawkweed), only the second post-1999 record. The following were all worthwhile in the sense of there being few recent records:

  • Hieracium cerinthiforme (Clasping-leaved Hawkweed) from The Storr
  • Hieracium eucallum (Spreading-toothed Hawkweed) from Stockval
  • Hieracium langwellense (Langwell Hawkweed). from Glenbrittle and The Storr. Plenty of pre-2000 records for this one.