Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Raasay: Old & New

November 22, 2018

The weather has been so good recently that I have been tempted out to wander on Raasay. Two days ago I spotted two plants of Glebionis segetum (Corn Marigold) in flower on a road verge near Inverarish.


Glebionis segetum (Corn Marigold)

To quite my own words (lightly edited) “Reported in oat fields on Raasay and Fladday in 1930s and near Balachuirn in 1969. Lost with the cessation of arable farming. One plant emerged from soil brought in from Alness in Easter Ross for road repair purposes in 2006.”

These could have arisen from long-dormant seed following forestry operations, but seem more likely to be the result of scattered wildflower seed.

Yesterday I discovered about a dozen plants of Leycesteria formosa, (Himalayan Honeysuckle, Flowering Nutmeg, Himalaya Nutmeg or Pheasant Berry) near the dog kennels. This is a first in the wild for Raasay though it has been spreading rapidly on Skye and the adjacent mainland. Apart from Kinloch Castle on Rum, all vice-county records are in the 2005 to 2018 range and it is now known in 13 tetrads in Skye and Raasay. This is likely to be an underestimate given that Seth and I added a tetrad in Uig ten days ago and I added the one on Raasay this week.


Leycetseria in November

Micromoths (2)

November 8, 2018

Following my last post I went looking for Knopper galls on the oaks near the Old Manse here on Raasay but as usual there were no acorns – so no galls (and yes, I know these are caused by a gall wasp not a moth)  However, in the beech hedge there was a green-island leaf mine:

Phyllonorycter maestingella on Beech

Phyllonorycter maestingella on Fagus sylvatica

I was interested to see that the green-island effect induced by leaf-miners is mediated by bacterial symbionts, at least in the closely related Phyllonorycter blancardella:                  

“Curing leaf-miners of their symbiotic partner resulted in the absence of green-island formation on leaves, increased compensatory larval feeding and higher insect mortality. Our results suggest that bacteria impact green-island induction through manipulation of cytokinin levels.”

On another note, the 1952 paper referred to in the last post does not appear to have any micromoths in it.


November 6, 2018

Recently, this Nettle-tap was on the outside of the house:


Common Nettle-tap

A few days later I went toward Oskaig to look for Ectoedemia argyropeza (Virgin Pigmy) on fallen aspen leaves which Seth had found on Skye. It makes a green island on the leaf:

Ectoedemia argyropeza

Ectoedemia argyropeza                          Photo S. Gibson

I failed to find that one but did find leaf mines caused by moth larvae on hazel and rusty sallow leaves:


Stigmella floslactella and Parornix devoniella mines on Hazel

Caloptilia stigmatella

Caloptilia stigmatella on Salix cinerea subsp. oleifolia

Thanks to Seth and Tony for help with identification.

Meanwhile, I dug out the following paper which lists 329 species of butterflies and moths including 98 micromoths, details of which I extracted to a spreadsheet and sent to Keith the County Moth Recorder:

HARRISON J W HESLOP (1937) The Lepidoptera of the Isle of Raasay and of the adjacent Islands of Scalpay, South Rona, Fladday and Longay. Proceedings of the University of Durham Philosophical Society 9  305-328

Nine of these have been accepted as new to the vice-county:

Acleris logiana Grey Birch Button
Apotomis sauciana Bilberry Marble
Argyroploce arbutella Bearberry Marble
Cnephasia incertana Light Grey Tortrix
Dichrorampha plumbagana Silver-Lined Drill
Dichrorampha plumbana Lead-Coloured Drill
Philedone gerningana Cinquefoil Twist
Phyllonorycter scopariella Broom Midget
Teleiopsis diffinis Large Groundling

Now I am looking out this paper to see if there are more I can add:

HARRISON J W HESLOP & J K MORTON (1952) Lepidoptera in the Isles of Raasay, Rhum (vc104), Lewis and Harris (vc110) in 1951. The Entomologist 85 6-13

Hawkweeds 2018

October 29, 2018

Spoiler alert: Special Interest only!

I collected 11 specimens this year around VC 104 and sent them to David McCosh who says they are nearly all new 10km square records.

The most interesting was Hieracium ascendentidens  from near Colbert Point  for which David had only one previous record from VC 104.

Others were H. beebyanum, H. caledonicum, H. cerinthiforme, H. orimeles, H. rubicundiforme, H. strictiforme and 2 H. triviale (previously H. vulgatum).

Two could not be determined. One from the Druim na Ciche area is close to H. lagganense “but is ruled out by having obtuse rather than narrowly acute phyllaries.” A plant from Gedintailor “has some elements in common with H. uistense but not enough to be acceptable”.


October 26, 2018

We don’t usually see snow in October:


View from the garden

But the weeds are still flowering in the vegetable garden at sea level:

(All of these are rare locally.)

Where we are

October 20, 2018

I have been away for a month and since my return the weather has not been great. And there is lots to do in the garden. During the low season I have a number of small projects that I intend to undertake but first, here is an interesting map:


This shows the number of taxa not re-found since before 2000 by tetrad in vice-county 104. The pink/brown colour indicates the worst cases. I really need to spend more recording time on Raasay next season. The reason that Raasay comes out so badly in this analysis is twofold. Firstly, it was extremely well recorded before 2000 and secondly, I have been concentrating on the rest of my patch in recent years.

Rare Fungi

September 6, 2018

I found this on dead stems of Schoenoplectus lacustris (Common Club-rush) at Loch Lonachan last month:


Fungus on Schoenoplectus lacustris

Bruce says it “seems to be the imperfect stage of Myriosclerotinia scirpicola.  This is rare and most interesting.”

The Crinodendron hookerianum (Chile Lantern Tree) at Dunvegan has leaf spots and these just may be new to science – they have certainly floored Bruce even after a literature search.


Fungus on Crinodendron hookerianum

Seth has kindly agreed to get a specimen to Bruce who will send it to Kew.

Update: Bruce thinks it is Phyllosticta crinodendrin, apparently not previously recorded outside South America.


September 2, 2018

On Thursday I joined Skye Nature Group’s excursion to look for fungi, though as usual we looked at other things as well. Near the Crinodendron hookerianum (Lantern Tree) we found a fairly mature Cupressus macrocarpa (Monterey Cypress) and a Laburnum looking pretty sick with fungi growing out of it. This one is clearly not the hybrid as it had many seeds per pod and I think it is Laburnum alpinum (Scottish Laburnum). In an ideal world I will go back a bit earlier next season to make sure.

I also spotted Erica vagans (Cornish Heath):


There must be something about SNG meetings as it was at the very first one last October that we made the first localised record for this plant in the vice-county.

The fungi were many and various and Seth has written the visit up here. Here are just a couple to whet your appetite (or not):


Afterwards I went to the Knott area to check a few things and found Origanum vulgare (Wild Marjoram) – the herb sold as Oregano – by the roadside, obviously escaped or thrown out from a garden. I find it spreads rapidly by seed in my garden.


Origanum vulgare (Wild Marjoram)

I took my grapnel to a nearby loch to find out what the pondweed was in the middle of it. Even from the shore back in June it was clearly not the usual Potamogeton polygonifolius (Bog Pondweed) or Potamogeton natans (Broad-leaved Pondweed). It turned out to be Potamogeton perfoliatus (Perfoliate Pondweed), so nothing exotic.

I also took a specimen of the Inula hookeri (Hooker’s Fleabane) to check whether it is actually I. orientalis (Georgian Fleabane) as Mike had pointed out that they are very similar. However, both his and my searches for glandular hairs have been inconclusive – the relevant key in Sell & Murrell being ambiguous. It may be possible to sort this out later from achenes.

Inula hookeri leaf edge, stem & involucral bracts

Inula hookeri leaf edge, stem & involucral bracts

Inula glands underside 3a

Inula glands underside of leaf     Image: M. Wilcox


September 2, 2018

Glenmore, south-west of Portree, is in a tetrad that needed more work so yesterday I had a go. The Glenmore River joins the Abhainn an Acha-leathain to form the River Snizort within the tetrad of interest and there is the roadside and an extensive area of bog, so even though it is now September I came away with 159 vascular plant records including Utricularia minor (Lesser Bladderwort) still in flower (or in flower again):


Utricularia minor (Lesser Bladderwort)

This leaves 14 tetrads in VC104 that are >5% land but have fewer than 50 post-1999 records. A further 28 have 50 to 79. (“Land” includes freshwater bodies.)

Also, there was Pustula tragopogonis on Cirsium heterophyllum (Melancholy Thistle) which I have only seen once before:


Pustula tragopogonis on Cirsium heterophyllum


Glen Scaladal, Strathaird

September 2, 2018

Both Steve and I visited Glen Scaladal, Strathaird during August and whilst there was a fair bit of overlap in what we recorded, we both found plants that the other didn’t. Two tetrads with rather few post-1999 records are now well recorded.

We both found Scutellaria minor (Lesser Skullcap), something that is always easier to spot late on when in flower:


Scutellaria minor

And I found a rose that I think can only be Rosa x margerisonii (Rosa spinosissima x caesia):

Rosa x margerisonii

Rosa x margerisonii probably

There was Osmunda regalis (Royal Fern) in several places on the sea cliffs:


Osmunda regalis

and Belemnite guards galore in the rocks:



Matt tells me the near vertical Belemnite shows the guard with the alveolus at the bottom where the chambered phragmocone would sit.