Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Off With a Bang

February 14, 2020

The square-bashing for Atlas 2020 is over but yesterday Neil, Seth and I took a walk along the River Chracaig in Portree and made a cracking start to the new year’s recording. We started with a look at some snowdrops Seth had found. As well as the standard Galanthus nivalis (Snowdrop), as he had suspected there was also something else, which turned out to be G. plicatus subsp. plicatus (Pleated Snowdrop) and a hybrid swarm of G. x valentinei (G. nivalis x plicatus).

Galanthus plicatus

Galanthus plicatus ssp. plicatus (Confirmed by Aaron Davis at Kew)

Not long after that, we fell over a mature conifer which I am pretty sure is Cryptomeria japonica (Japanese Red-cedar): Later: Confirmed by Matt Parratt (BSBI Conifer referee).

Cryptomeria japonica.jpg

Cryptomeria japonica (Japanese Red-cedar)

That makes three things new to VC104.

Additionally, we added Berberis darwinii (Darwin’s Barberry) and a crocus to the list for the 10 x 10km square NG44.  I think the crocus is Crocus verna but have asked for expert advice. Later: Brian Mathew (BSBI Crocus referee) says “….the C. vernus agg….. is now split into several. I am sure the Portree Crocus is a form of one of these, the variable C. neapolitanus (Ker Gawl.) Loisel.” So another new VC record – sort of, as I have previously recorded C. vernus and C. neapolitanus is what used to be C. vernus subsp. vernus.

Crocus

Crocus neapolitanus

We added a further eight taxa that were new to the tetrad including Carex sylvatica (Wood-sedge) and Sanicula europaea (Sanicle).

We found this interesting fungus (Onygena equina) growing on a sheep horn – Neil had found it near here a few months ago:

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Onygena equina

an Orange Ladybird

Orange Ladybird

Orange Ladybird

and a variety of other insects, fungi and lichens. Today the weather is back to gale force with no ferry running – and set to be that way for a few days – so no more excursions for now.

Restoring Peat Bogs

January 27, 2020

Restoring Peat Bogs

2019

January 19, 2020

A summary of plant recording in VC104 in the second half of 2019 is available here.

Post-2000 records per tetrad look like this:

Post-2000 records per tetrad

Post-2000 records per tetrad

The bright yellow squares have been visited and found to have no vascular plants (only bare rock above HWMS).

The bright red squares have not been visited but are likely to have no vascular plants for the same reason.

More Raasay News

December 4, 2019

A woodlouse found on the recent SNG outing turns out to be Philoscia affinis, a cryptic species only recorded in the UK in 2017 but likely to have been here for many a year as an undiscovered native. For now, this is the most northerly record on the planet.

Philoscia affinis

Philoscia affinis              Image N. Roberts

You can read much more about this here.

Whilst checking the only known duckweed site on Raasay a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a plant in that small garden pond that I thought was Ranunculus subgenus Batrachium i.e. a Water-crowfoot. I sent a couple of pictures to Chris Preston, aquatic plants expert, who agreed. Sadly neither he nor I can get it to the species level without flowers and late November is not the time to find those. The only accepted records for linear-leaved water-crowfoots in the vice-county are of Ranunculus trichophyllus (Thread-leaved Water-crowfoot) from Storr Lochs on Skye. The Raasay one may have been introduced with purchased pond plants.

Batrachium

Batrachium

Today I spotted this little fungus on a twig in the garden:

Fungus on twig

Fungus on twig

I am hoping that someone will advise as to what it is…..   Later: Looks like a Hymenoscyphus though the species would need more work. Thanks, Seth.

Beyond Glen Caladale

November 29, 2019

I have just spotted that this was never posted at the end of May, so for the record…..

One of the few remaining tetrads with no records ever was NG32H to the west of Eynort and south of Talisker Bay. On Tuesday Neil and I chose to walk in from Eynort and sorted that out with 136 records.

We found no great rarities but Asplenium marinum (Sea Spleenwort) on the shore and Silene acaulis (Moss Campion) on the cliffs were nice.

Silene acaulis

Silene acaulis

On the way we saw some fine examples of animal topiary with the gorse:

Gorse topiary

Gorse topiary

We startled a barn owl off the cliffs and a peregrine flashed pass at one point. We also spotted a fine Argent & Sable:

Argent & Sable

Argent & Sable

 

 

Loch Eadar dà Bhaile, Raasay

November 29, 2019

Seven members of Skye Nature Group circumnavigated (well, nearly) Loch Eadar dà Bhaile, the loch between the townships of Balachuirn and Balameanach on Wednesday. This is a rich loch where the vegetation is slowly covering the open water. We recorded 123 plants of which Fragaria vesca (Wild Strawberry), Hypericum androsaemum (Tutsan) and Sanicula europaea (Sanicle) were new to the monad (1km square). Additionally, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry) was spotted (in large quantities) for the first time since the 1990s.

We started up a woodcock and found a newt – not in the loch – and the fungi were good, including Birch Jelly (Exidia repanda), Green Elfcup (Chlorociboria aeruginascens) (probably) and Pipe Club (Macrotyphula fistulosa var. contorta).

Chlorociboria aeruginascens

Chlorociboria aeruginascens

Pipe Club Macrotyphula fistulosa

Macrotyphula fistulosa

Oh yes – and we inspected the 170m run of Crocosmia pottsii (Potts’ Montbretia) from Balameanach to the shore of Loch Eadar dà Bhaile that until this year had been recorded as Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora (Montbretia (C. aurea x pottsii)).

Crocosmia pottsii Balameanach

Crocosmia pottsii at Balameanach

Ducks & Monkeys

November 29, 2019

My tour of Duckweed (Lemna) sites on Skye was successful in that I re-found the plants in nine out of ten places. However, none of them was convincingly Lemna gibba (Fat Duckweed) – see previous post. I am keeping specimens for molecular work as and when a DNA test becomes available.

Skye Lemna samples

Skye Lemna samples

Seth checked the Lemna in the ponds at Armadale Castle and that turns out to be L. gibba. He also found two immature specimens of Araucaria araucana (Monkey-puzzle) that appear to have self-seeded. Previous records in the vice-county have been of planted trees.

Score Horan

November 18, 2019

Skye Nature Group went to Score Horan on Saturday. Emma captured this cranefly which Seth thinks may be Tipula pagana (Murdo also says probably, but reserves judgment until he sees it). If so, it is the first Skye record on NBN.

Tipula pagana

Tipula pagana probably

We also found the Common Striped Woodlouse, which neither Seth nor I had seen on Skye before, though there are a few records.

We re-found a 1968 record for Ligusticum scoticum (Scots Lovage) at Oans and rather more a short distance along the coast at Stac a’ Bhothain and made the first record for Dryopteris aemula (Hay-scented Buckler-fern) in the 10km square NG25.

Most interesting, to me anyway, was the Duckweed. It has recently been realised that Lemna minor (Common Duckweed) has been over-recorded for Lemna gibba (Fat Duckweed) that fails to be fat. What we found on Saturday is indeed flat Fat Duckweed.

Lemna gibba

Lemna gibba

It is possible that flat Fat Duckweed is an unrecognised taxon rather than just L. gibba that fails to fatten up. So this is a first record for the vice-county (Hoorah!) but may mean that all previous records of L. minor are in error (Boo!)

More, probably much more, after my Duckweed Safari planned for tomorrow…..

Oak-related Matters

November 13, 2019

Having found Quercus cerris (Turkey Oak)  I thought I had better check for knopper galls on the local oaks of other species as Q. cerris is required for the completion of the life cycle of the gall wasp. It was only discovered in the north of Scotland in 2010 when it was found in Moray, but last year it was found on Skye.

However, like most years on Raasay, there were no acorns to be seen and so no knopper galls.  There were Common Spangle Galls caused by the cynipid wasp Neuroterus quercusbaccarum – a common thing but according to NBN not recorded from Raasay.

Spangle Galls

Spangle Galls

On a dead, fallen oak there was this fungus, False Turkey-tail or Hairy Curtain Crust (Stereum hirsutum). Thanks, Neil & Seth for id.

New Trees for Raasay

November 11, 2019

A few weeks ago I discovered that the Forestry had planted some Chamaecyparis lawsoniana (Lawson’s Cypress) near Temptation Hill on Raasay. Then yesterday I spotted a single specimen of Quercus cerris (Turkey Oak) near Inverarish:

Quercus cerris Raasay 191110 2

Quercus cerris (Turkey Oak)

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Quercus cerris (Turkey Oak)

Both are new to Raasay and in fact, there is only one record for Q. cerris on Skye: NG51 1987-1999, which could be in Elgol, Glasnakille, Drinan, Kirkibost, Kilmarie…….