An Extra from Tusdale

July 5, 2017

Seth spotted this Conopid (Thick-headed fly) Physocephala nigra which is a first for Skye. he explained how they catch bumble bees and lay an egg in them in flight. Not good news for the bee.

Physocephala nigra

Physocephala nigra    Photo: S. Gibson

Skye Botany Group’s July Excursion

July 4, 2017

We went to Tusdale (west of Eynort) yesterday and recorded 189 vascular plants and charophytes plus 119 bryophytes from tetrad NG32M for which there were no previous plant records.

Nitella flexilis sens. lat. (Smooth Stonewort) was new to the ten-kilometre square NG32. As we were running out of time we found an excellent gorge which could do with a revisit.

I accidentally left my camera in the car but Terry has sent loads of excellent images. Here are a few plants:

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and a few non-plants:

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July 4, 2017

My July contribution to Am Bratach, Raasay’s Community Newsletter, concerns Forget-me-nots and is available through a link on the Recording & Resources page of my website.

The End of the First Half

June 30, 2017

It is 30th June and there are over 7,700 records from 2017 in the database – and Joanna has several completed cards to give me from her time on Skye. With the aid of a grapnel, she found Nitella translucens (Translucent Stonewort) in Loch Corlarach, north of Dunvegan – only the second Skye record though known on Raasay, Rum and Soay. She also fished out a second charophyte which I am still fretting about.

Nitela translucens LR

Nitella translucens (Translucent Stonewort)

She also found a small sedge which we think is Carex caryophyllea (Spring-sedge) but I have sent it away for an expert view. I have also sent a Callitriche away for further assistance.

Meanwhile, Steve has sent nearly 600 records from June including Echium vulgare (Viper’s-bugloss) from the Aird of Sleat. Quite a few years ago, there was a lot in a garden in Harrapool along with other oddities from a wildflower seed mix.  I never recorded it as it didn’t escape from the garden. Where this one came from is currently unknown.

Echium vulgare

Echium vulgare Photo: S. Terry

He and Tim also found the Californian Phacelia tanacetifolia (Blue Tansy) planted at Tormore. There may be other strange things about from “native” wildflower seeds.

Steve has also found more Dactylorhiza traunsteinerioides (Narrow-leaved Marsh-orchid), Paris quadrifolia (Herb-paris) and re-found the Gentianella amarella (Autumn Gentian) at Torrin.

Gentianella amarella

Gentianella amarella Photo: S. Terry

Macleod’s Maidens and Beyond

June 30, 2017
Macleod's Maidens LR

Macleod’s Maidens

It is a fair old walk out to Macleod’s Maidens but Joanna and Julian were determined to get to tetrad NG23I which lies beyond this impressive group of sea stacks. Nick and I joined them on Thursday on what turned out to be the best weather of the week.

Previously there was a single record in the database for NG23I – Silene acaulis (Moss Campion) in 1990.  There was plenty of that:

Silene acaulis LR

Silene acaulis

but also we spotted nearly 50 specimens of Orobanche alba (Thyme Broomrape) an a few Carlina vulgaris (Carline Thistle):

Overall we recorded 132 taxa which was pretty good going given we could not get down to the shore and there is no woodland or body of fresh water.  Nick recorded over 80 bryophytes, which is unexciting but again pretty good considering the range of habitats.

On the way I spotted Juncus foliosus (Leafy Rush), a first for Skye, though known on Raasay, Rona and Rum.

Juncus foliosus

Juncus foliosus (Leafy Rush)



As well as broader leaves compared with J. bufonius (Toad Rush), J. foliosus has tepals with dark lines either side of the midrib.

It was a great day for insects, with many butterflies and moths

Chminey Sweepers

Chimney Sweepers on Trifolium repens

and I found the rust Melampsora lini growing on Linum catharticum (Fairy Flax).

Melampsora lini

Melampsora lini on Linum catharticum

There was also Nicrophorus vespilloides, the Sexton Beetle with black clubs on its antennae.

Nicrophorus vespilloides

Nicrophorus vespilloides – with added mites

On Friday morning Joanna and Julian joined me for a quick look at the tiny bit of land on Harlosh Point in NG24Q. We found 48 taxa in this tiny coastal strip including Carex distans (Distant Sedge), Cerastium diffusum (Sea Mouse-ear) and Galium verum (Lady’s Bedstraw).


June 27, 2017

Near East Suisnish on Raasay there is a little bit of land in NG5533. I chose not to record this separately for The Flora of Raasay. However, there is a slightly bigger area on the Moll peninsula of Skye that falls in the same tetrad and that is a different habitat, making a visit to the Raasay bit worthwhile in order to achieve a more complete picture of the tetrad. On Sunday I went to NG5535 and added 21 taxa to the tetrad. I also had a look in early April when I added five.

New things this time included Acaena inermis (Spineless Acaena), well-known nearby, and the always-nice-to-see Pinguicula lusitanica (Pale Butterwort).

I have found a lot of different rusts and leaf-mines recently but they do not generally make for interesting images.  However, the moth trap yielded 15 moths of 12 species the other night.

Nearby this ichneumon was on the wall, perhaps attracted by the light.

Ophionid parasitic wasp 1 LR

The moth trap had also attracted large numbers of non-biting midges and yesterday the garden was full of insects including Red Admirals and this Yarrow Plume Moth:

Yarrow Plume

Yarrow Plume

Curiously there are Flame Carpets everywhere at the moment but none ventured into the trap – or if they did, they got out again.

A Harvestman in the Garden

June 24, 2017

I think this is Leiobunum rotundum:

Harvestman 170624

Harvestman 170624 Body

It was on the outside wall of our house today. it looks like this species if one compares it with the images here.

It could be good to have  comment from someone more knowledgable about these…..

There is a 1979 record from Portree on the NBN.

Other Botanists’ Efforts

June 23, 2017

I have been away all week for family reasons but the great work continues…..

Nick has visited tetrad NG36Q near his home where there were only 11 previous records, all from before 2000.  He recorded 140 taxa yesterday, so that is one tetrad I do not have to worry about. He found Carex caryophyllea (Spring-sedge) which has rather few records on Skye and may be something for which I have a bit of a blind spot.

He also found what I think is Puccinia moliniae on Prunella vulgaris (Selfheal):

Puccinia moliniae on Prunella vulgaris

Puccinia moliniae on Prunella vulgaris Photo: N Hodgetts

P. moliniae.… guess the other host….

Also, Karen has sent me some nice pictures of the Saxifraga cespitosa (Tufted Saxifrage) and Woodsia alpina (Alpine Woodsia) from the Trotternish Ridge earlier in the month.


A Week on Muck

June 18, 2017

I have just spent a rather wet and windy week on Muck with the Inverness Botany Group. I decided to record on a monad (1 km square) basis as there are only 13 and none has 100% land. However, it spreads over four 10km squares, three of which have no other land in VC 104. We made over 1,800 records and as well as re-finding old records of many species, we added Carex extensa (Long-bracted Sedge), Carex limosa (Bog-sedge), Carlina vulgaris (Carline Thistle) and Valeriana officinalis (Common Valerian) to the Muck list.

Fumaria bastardii (Tall Ramping-fumitory), distinguished by its large flowers but small stipules, was a good find with only two previous sites (on Muck and Eigg) in VC104 and no record since 1999.

Fumaria bastardii Muck

Fumaria bastardii (Tall Ramping-fumitory)

Some Myriophyllum in  brackish pools led me to hope for M. spicatum for which there are no accepted records for VC 104, as this is the habitat in which it is found on Coll and Tiree and the Outer Isles.

However, the inflorescence being <3cm and the tip drooping in bud plus the basal whorl of flowers being in leaf-like pinnatisect bracts then others in pectinate bracts, tells me that it is the locally frequent M. alterniflorum.

Muck Myriophyllum 3

We also recorded a number of insects, mammals…..

The Belted Beauty has yet to be recorded on Skye.

Also fungi, some of which are awaiting identification….

Later: Bruce tells me the fungus on Silene flos-cuculi is Septoria lychnidis, or as NBN has it Caryophylloseptoria lychnidis, and that it is found on other members of the genus too.

Back Home

June 8, 2017

Bruce has identified this fungus on our Bay (Laurus nobilis) as Phomopsis lauri, which he says is surprisingly rare.

Laurus nobilis upper lf surface

Phomopsis lauri on Bay

I found this hoverfly in the conservatory which, subject to final inspection, Murdo says is Scaeva selenitica, and “I have found that only four times before, and not since 2012”.

The NBN distribution map looks like this:

Scaeva selenitica map

What one can find without leaving house and garden…..