Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Mid-July

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

It had to be there

June 27, 2021

Triglochin palustris (Marsh Arrowgrass) is a fairly common plant locally, found in many stretches of wet ground. By the end of recording for Atlas 2020 the only 10 km square from which there were no recent records was NG42 in the centre of Skye. NG42 is one of only two hectads in the vice-county with >99% land/freshwater. A couple of pre-2000 records were too vague to refind, the grid references being just “NG42”, which covers nearly 100 km2. Towards the end of the Atlas recording, I was actively looking for it when in that area.

Triglochin palustris

Yesterday, with no such thoughts in mind, I fell over a single plant in Coire na Creiche – see image on left.

Otherwise, the highlights were a couple of micromoths – not uncommon, but nice to add to the list of of ones I have a chance of recognising another time.

Late June

June 25, 2021

By far the most exciting find was by Lynn, who has dicovered a new site for Arabis alpina in a new tetrad (the third ever) and about 1.5 km from the nearest previously known site.

Arabis alpina at its new station

In the moth arena I have successfully reared another Argyroploce arbutella (Bearberry Marble) this time from Skye rather than Raasay, added Nemapogon cloacella (Cork Moth) to my home list and today found Apotomis sororculana (Narrow-winged Marble) on Raasay, only the second or third VC104 record.

Some Difficult Specimens

June 11, 2021

Yesterday was pretty wet and windy but in a short dry interlude I walked a stretch of the nearby Arish Burn. One plant of Angelica sylvestris (Wild Angelica) was covered in a downy mildew which I didn’t expect to identify but it turns out that it was not difficult. It is Plasmopara angelicae, descibed by Ray Woods as “widespread but not at all common”.

Plasmopara angelicae on Angelica sylvestris

The day before, I found this little barkfly in the garden. It is a Mesopsocus sp. and I have sent it away for expert determination.

Mesopsocus sp

And before that, on Ben Chracaig near Portree, I spotted several items whose identity may never be resolved. This fungus on Rosa caesia subsp. vosagiaca (Glaucous Dog-rose) is probably Phragmidium mucronatum or P. tuberculatum: but even microscopically they are tricky to tell apart.

Phragmidium tuberculatum/mucronatum

This mine on Teucrium scorodonia (Wood Sage) is caused by a beetle of the genus Apteropeda. However, the larva had gone and it could be A. globosa or A. orbiculata as both use this plant as host. According to bladmineerders re the former “As far as known neither mine nor larva can be discriminated from that of related species. A. globosa is much less polyphagous than orbiculata” but Teucrium is a known host.

Mine on Teucrium scorodonia

And finally, the jury is out on what causes this on Centaurea nigra (Common Knapweed). I shall go back and open up one of the “galls” if that is what they are, and see what I can see.

Centaurea nigra “galls”

Early June

June 9, 2021

A trip up Beinn Edra with Neil, Seth and two of his friends allowed us to show them, and refresh records for, Epilobium alsinifolium (Chickweed Willowherb), Gnaphalium supinum (Dwarf Cudweed), Juncus triglumis (Three-flowered Rush), Koenigia islandica (Iceland-purslane), Salix herbacea (Dwarf Willow) and Sibbaldia procumbens (Sibbaldia).

Steve has been productive in the Broadford area with the first vice-county record of Buddleja globosa (Orange-ball-tree) and the second for Ornithogalum umbellatum (Star-of-Bethlehem), while Seth has the third VC record for Viola x wittrockiana (Garden Pansy).

Neil, Debbie and I went to investigate the clumping of leaves on Acer platanoides (Norway Maple) in a garden at Dunan, but this was inconclusive, so we walked a stretch of the Broadford River. We found second VC records for Euphorbia griffithii (Griffith’s Spurge) and Rodgersia podophylla (Rodgersia). The previous records for both are near Armadale Castle and both are grown within those grounds. There are lots of garden escapes/throw-outs/planted species between the Broadford River and the road including at least one I must go back for when it is in flower.

Back in April I collected a sample of Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry) where some leaves had been spun together and a few days ago I discovered that I have successfully reared Argyroploce arbutella (Bearberry Marble). The only previous record in the vice-county was from 1937, which I dug out of the literature a couple of years ago and sent to the County Moth Recorder. Like this one, that was from Raasay, though over 9 km away to the south.

I also have a determination for a Long-horn Moth from the garden in May: Nematopogon schwarziellus (Sandy Long-horn), a first for the vice-county. The arrow shows the pale tornal spot typical of schwarziellus.

Nematopogon schwarziellus (Sandy Long-horn)
Nematopogon schwarziellus (Sandy Long-horn)

As ever, I am grateful to Nigel Richards for identifying micro-moths for me.

Actually, Make that Six

June 2, 2021

I had another look at images of this moth from the same period as those shown in my last post:

Udea decrepitalis

I realised it looked like Udea decrepitalis (Scotch Pearl) and this was confirmed by Mark Young. Another local rarity!

Five New Moths

May 30, 2021

In the past couple of days I have found five moths that I have not knowingly seen before. All were on Raasay but only one here at home to add to my list of West Suisnish moths.

The Clouded Silver came to light at home and the Striped Twin-spot Carpet to light when I took my trap to Leac. The other three were caught on the way to or from putting the trap out. Both the Clouded Silver and the Small Argent and Sable are pretty rare locally. There are not that many records for Striped Twin-spot Carpet or Heather Groundling either, but at least in the latter case this is probably down to under-recording – it is small and fast moving and found on the moor.