A Christmas Visitor

December 23, 2016

An Orange Ladybird (Halyzia sedecimguttata) appeared in the lounge yesterday, presumably from the locally sourced Sitka Spruce Christmas tree. Athough not associated with conifers in the summer, Stephen M tells me that many ‘non-conifer’ ladybirds take to the shelter of pines, spruce and juniper in the winter.

Richard recorded this one from Raasay but only from NG54 as far as I can tell.

Raasay’s Saltmarsh Plants Again, etc.

December 2, 2016

My contribution to the Raasay Community Newsletter for December is a second look at saltmarsh plants. It is available through a link on the Recording and Resources page of my website.

My talk at the Scottish Annual Meeting of the Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland and the Botanical Society of Scotland was entitled  A year in the life of a Scottish Recorder and the slides are available via the link – though they are of limited use without the accompanying ad hoc chatter.

I quite liked the following two diagrams together. The first shows daylight hours in Portree in 2015:


The second shows records per month for VC 104 in 2015:


Quite apart from the unsurprising correlation between the two (with perhaps a slight lag in records to allow for growth in the plants), this means 3 plant records were made in VC104 for every daylight hour of 2015 (13,715 records/4504 hours). One member of my audience said that just listening to my talk made him feel tired.

Ardmore, Waternish

November 24, 2016

Encouraged by bits of Zostera marina (Eelgrass) in the seaweed washed up outside my house, yesterday I went to see if I could find any at Ardmore as it had been recorded there in October 1964. No luck. I have records for this marine angiosperm from almost every month of the year – often as wash-ups after rough weather.

I had thought of going on in search of another old record for it but found myself walking round Ardmore Point which took me into a different 10km square. The relevant tetrad is NG25E of which only 1.6% is land.  I have walked it before, in September 2007, and the taxon count was at 91. I added six more common species but was pleased to spot Orobanche alba (Thyme Broomrape) at this time of year.


Orobanche alba (Thyme Broomrape)

It was interesting to find several plants in flower such as these:

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and Ranunculus flammula subsp. flammula (Lesser Spearwort) – no photo. The primrose was amongst the small boulders at the top of the shore.

Some ferns and horsetails were looking OK, though the horsetail will die right back soon.

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Curiously, some of the Outer Isles appeared to be floating, Laputa-like:


Saltmarsh Plants

November 2, 2016

My contribution to the November issue of the Raasay Community Newsletter concerns some of Raasay’s saltmarsh plants and is available from the Recording and Resources page of my website.

BSBI / BSS Scottish Annual Meeting

October 28, 2016

5th November at SNH Battleby Conference Centre, Perth.

Click here to find out more and book NOW.

Everyone welcome.

PROGRAMME (Subject to change)

08.30 Exhibitors & organisers setting up

09.15 General Arrival – tea & coffee while viewing exhibits

10.15 Welcome & Introduction – John Faulkner, BSBI President

10.25 The BSBI Scottish Year – Robin Payne, BSBI Scottish Chair

10.50 The BSS Report – John Grace, BSS President

11.00 Morning coffee & tea

11.30 Atlas 2020 – Progress Report – Jim McIntosh, BSBI Scottish Officer

11.45 Atlas Recording in the Cairngorm National Park – Andy Amphlett, BSBI Recorder for Banff

12.00 Buffer Lunch and view exhibits

13.00 Mini-workshops – choice of:

  • Distinguishing Scaly Male-ferns, Fred Rumsey
  • An Introduction to Sedges, Chris Metherell
  • An Introduction to Stoneworts, Claudia Ferguson-Smyth
  • Microscope techniques, Sandy Edwards & Jay McKinnon
  • Identifying Bents (Agrostis), Arthur Copping
  • BSBI Review, Jane Houldsworth & John Faulkner

14.00 Afternoon short talk session

14.00 How I became a botanist – Michael Braithwaite, BSBI Recorder emeritus BSBI

14.15 The sunny sides of summits – Jay Mackinnon, Edinburgh Napier University

14.30 A year in the life of a Scottish Recorder, Stephen Bungard, BSBI Recorder Skye, Raasay & the Small Isles

14.45 The biggest problems in European fern taxonomy? – Fred Rumsey, NHM & BPS President

15.00 Afternoon tea/coffee

15.30 Mini-workshops – repeat of above selection

16.30 Question & Answer session – a chance to have your say!

17.00 Main talk: Aliens in the British Flora, Professor Mick Crawley

18.00 Photographic Competition Results & Close

18.15 Conference Dinner – in the foyer


October 23, 2016

John has spotted tomato plants growing out of the pavement in Portree:


Tomato in Portree            Photo: J Hawell

Today I went to take a photograph of Ruppia maritima (Beaked Tasselweed) at Oskaig for a forthcoming article as I did not seem to have one. It is looking a bit brown but otherwise pretty much as it would earlier in the year:


Ruppia maritima in late October

Crossing the road a little to the south of Oskaig, and >600m from open fresh water was  this fine female Black-bellied Diving Beetle (Dytiscus semisulcatus):

Richard recorded it on Raasay “very irregularly”.

Nothofagus alpina (Rauli), is a Southern Beech and ours has done rather well at autumn colour in the garden this year:


Rauli at night

Raasay’s Plants from New Zealand

October 4, 2016

This is the subject of my contribution to the  October edition of the Raasay Newsletter available here.

The Last Skye Botany Group Meeting of 2016

October 1, 2016

Yesterday we took a gentle stroll up Glen Sligachan from Sligachan itself. We managed to record 104 vascular plant taxa in a generally species-poor area very late in the season – the number being boosted by plants around the Sligachan Hotel. Nick also recorded bryophytes and we spotted a few invertebrates, fungi and a frog to add to the store of data collated by the Highland Biological Recording Group.

We found a single plant of Eriocaulon aquaticum (Pipewort) in the River Sligachan.  Whilst there is plenty about in nearby lochans, this is the first time I have seen it actually in a river.

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In Memoriam Richard Moore

September 29, 2016

Sadly, Richard Moore, author of “The Beetles of the Isle of Raasay in the Inner Hebrides” has passed away. He first came to Raasay in 1972 and returned pretty much every year to record the beetle fauna.

Usually coming twice a year for several weeks and staying at Arnish, he had become part of the Raasay scene and will be much missed.

Almost single-handedly he took the list of Raasay beetles, which stood at 129 in 1983, to well over 700, the longest list for any island of the Inner Hebrides.

Fungi, Bugs and a Beetle

September 19, 2016

Steve has found this choke fungus near Broadford which is probably Epichloë typhina – though this “species” probably contains more than one entity. A specimen has gone to Kew for further investigation


Epichloe typhina                     Photo: S Terry

Meanwhile in my lawn this fruiting body appears to have turned itself inside-out.


I have trapped several bugs in the garden recently including Anthocoris nemorum, the Common Flower Bug. The books say it can pierce human flesh and I can testify to that – but it does help control aphids.


Anthocoris nemorum

A duller version which is well coated in erect hairs, Anthocoris sibiricus has only been recorded once in Britain – from Scalpay in the 1930s.

From further afield John has sent me an image of Carabus nitens, a fine, Nationally Scarce ground-beetle which he found on Ben Lomond.  Within the limits of the NBN gateway this appears to be only the second Scottish record in the years 2000-2016.


Carabus nitens        Photo: J Poulter

Thanks to Stephen Moran for insect determinations.