Ullinish

August 14, 2018

A few days ago I discovered that a batch of records from the 1987 NCC Freshwater Loch Survey had an incorrect grid reference, putting them in tetrad NG33J rather than NG33Z. NG33J had looked moderately well recorded in terms of numbers of species and had not got onto my To Do list. However, once these incorrect records were reassigned it looked pretty poor, so yesterday I went to do something about it and recorded 213 taxa – with a couple of Atriplex specimens still to check.

Dun Beag lies within the tetrad and is the best preserved of the 50 or so brochs on Skye but I had never made the short walk from the road to inspect it.

It wasn’t much fun botanically, however. But the rest of the tetrad was: Cakile maritima (Sea Rocket), Carex otrubae (False Fox-sedge), Equisetum x litorale (Shore Horsetail) and Juncus ranarius (Frog Rush) were all new to the 10km square NG33, as were the planted Prunus avium (Wild Cherry), Saxifraga x urbium (London Pride) and Sorbus intermedia (Swedish Whitebeam).

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Cakile maritima

The Cakile is rare on Skye.

Asplenium ruta-muraria (Wall-rue), Bolboschoenus maritimus (Sea Club-rush) and Lycopus europaeus (Gypsywort) were the first NG33 records since before 2000, in the case of the Bolboschoenus, the first since 1915.

Additionally there were new sites for the locally uncommon Glechoma hederacea (Ground-ivy) and Sparganium erectum (Branched Bur-reed), though the latter has arguably lost that status owing to recent discoveries:

On the moth front there was a fine Knot Grass caterpillar on Salix repens (Creeping Willow) and I got a distant shot of a Shaded Broad-bar (Thanks, Nigel for i.d.), something I do not recall seeing before.

Shieldbug and Diving Beetle

August 12, 2018

Two recent visitors to our garden: a Spiked Shieldbug (Picromerus bidens)

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Picromerus bidens

not all that common in the northwest, and a Diving Beetle (Dytiscus semisulcatus)

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Dytiscus semisulcatus

that appeared to mistake our black car for a dark peaty pool. It took off and flew around for a while but came back for another try.  This is a species I have recorded before on Raasay, but not at home.

Plant Updates 2

August 5, 2018

Back in June, Joyce and I found Inula Hookeri (Hooker’s Fleabane) at Knott and now, in addition to the clump by Storr Lochs, Seth has found a third colony at Uig.

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Inula Hookeri

There were no previous records for VC104.

Martin has been finding Cryptogramma crispa (Parsley Fern) around Glamaig and Carmen, Fred and friends visited a number of botanical hotspots on Skye. From my point of view their best new find was Drosera anglica (Great Sundew) in NG26 where it had never been recorded before – though I suspect they were more impressed by Koenigia islandica (Iceland-purslane), Arabis alpina (Alpine Rock-cress) and Saxifraga cespitosa (Tufted Saxifrage).

There was a report on iRecord of Gunnera tinctoria (Giant-rhubarb) on the Aros Nature Trail with a grid reference, but I failed to find it yesterday. However, there is a patch of 13 plants by the road near Aros. Gunnera is new to NG44. (Sale of Gunnera tinctoria in Europe is now banned. See here.)

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Gunnera near Aros, Portree

Records for the year to date now exceed 10,000. I have stopped producing plant notes for the Raasay Community Newsletter but may start again in the autumn. My half-year report (Jan-Jun 2018) is available here, as it has been for some time but I forgot to mention it….

 

Plant Updates

August 3, 2018

John has found Acaena inermis (Spineless Acaena) on the Quiraing path – a totally new area:

Seth, Tony and I went to the Storr yesterday to check out some of the rarities but on the way back Tony spotted a large yellow fleabane by the roadside which turns out to be Inula hookeri (Hooker’s Fleabane), described by Skye Shrubs who identified it for me as a thug.

They also identified this which Tony and Seth brought from Uig:

Pratia pedunculat

Pratia pedunculata (Matted Pratia)

Whilst it has gone rampant through a lawn, it is not (yet) known to have reached the wild in Uig. RHS call this one a thug

 

Snozcumbers

August 3, 2018

If I could get our cucumber to do this all the time, I reckon they would be worth a fortune

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Cuke 1

Surely chefs would love this:

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cuke 2

Strange Fruit

July 29, 2018

My granddaughter Amy found this on the beach:

It is near-spherical, 6 cm diameter, rock-hard and the inside is highly (and pleasantly) aromatic but not citrus-like. Petrified orange? Escape from pot-pourri (probably too large for that)? Exotic fruit that has travelled by sea?

Recent Insects and a Tar-spot Fungus

July 29, 2018

I’ve not been plant-hunting as such this last week but here are a few recent sightings:

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Dark Arches found in the house

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Map-winged Swift

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Barred Yellow

From Acer campestre (Field Maple), a planted specimen on Raasay, a flower bug:

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Anthocoris nemoralis, not the commoner A. nemorum

And from the top of Dun Caan, Raasay:

Willow Tarspot on Salix herbacea

Willow Tarspot on Salix herbacea

Sròn nan Aighean and Beinn a’ Sga

July 19, 2018

This is the ridge running east-west as a spur of the Trotternish Ridge that I had intended to cover a couple of years ago but then had to return to the top of Flasvein to retrieve my camera.

Yesterday’s visit was well worthwhile with Poa glauca (Glaucous Meadow-grass), four species of saxifrage, the Nationally Scarce Euphrasia ostenfeldii (Ostenfeld’s Eyebright) and oddly, my first record of the year for Botrychium lunaria (Moonwort). June is normally the peak month for Moonwort records on Skye, but maybe the extreme dry weather has held it back. Also: Carex bigelowii (Stiff Sedge) checked as having stomata only on the underside of the leaves at a modest altitude for this plant of c.450m and Luzula spicata (Spiked Wood-Rush).

Two patches of Epilobium alsinifolium (Chickweed Willowherb) were nice, and down below on the bank of a burn there was Lycopodium clavatum (Stag’s-horn Clubmoss).

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I thought I had found Empetrum nigrum subsp. hermaphroditum (Mountain Crowberry) but close examination of fruits did not support this.

On the way home I went to see Morag’s find of Galium verum (Lady’s Bedstraw) in Portree – the first localised record and the first post-1999 record in NG44 (much commoner in the west of Skye):

Galium verum Portree

Galium verum in Portree

 

and I was shown this rather fine wasp nest in Portree:

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Wasp Nest Portree

Penifiler Lochs and Camas Bàn

July 19, 2018

On Tuesday Skye Botany Group went to Penifiler Lochs and Camas Bàn. We found Drosera anglica (Great Sundew) and Sparganium natans (Least Bur-reed) for the first time in NG44 since before 2000 – where they had been reported back then.

When I got home I realised that I hadn’t taken any photographas but here is one of Druim Loch from Caroline, showing Lobelia dortmanna (Water Lobelia) and Nymphaea alba (White Water-lily):

Water lobelia

Druim Loch       Photo: C Dear

We failed to find others I had hoped for: Melampyrum pratense (Common Cow-wheat), Plantago coronopus (Buck’s-horn Plantain) and Salsola kali subsp. kali (Prickly Saltwort). The last was recorded at Camas Bàn from 1963 to 1974 but not since, so it was a bit of a long shot – and Storm Hector last month probably cleared the sand of any plants, anyway.

However, there was Carex laevigata (Smooth-stalked Sedge) and Saxifraga hypnoides (Mossy Saxifrage), so a useful visit.  Nick  had an excellent time in the calcareous sandy bryophyte-rich turf at the back of Camas Bàn, including a new vice county record, Leiocolea gillmanii, a rare liverwort that was abundant there, and Brachythecium glareosum, known from only one other site in the vice-county, and last seen in Skye by Birks in the 70s.

We also spotted this moth larva on Myrica gale (Bog-myrtle) which we believe to be Light Knot Grass:

Light Knot Grass larva

Light Knot Grass Photo: S Terry

Gob na h-Oa

July 14, 2018

Gob na h-Oa (The Tip of Oa, if that helps) is a point west of Fiskavaig partly in tetrad NG33C, which until yesterday had a mere 29 plant taxa recorded. There are now 138. It is 92% sea but the land has some nice cliffs with Anthyllis vulneraria (Kidney Vetch) and Rubus saxatilis (Stone Bramble) and there are good colonies of Honckenya peploides (Sea Sandwort) and Populus tremula (Aspen).

The sea caves are good:

and there were moths about including lots of Yellow Shells:

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Yellow Shell

I dropped down into Camas Aird an t-Sabhail to look for Carex arenaria (Sand Sedge), a rare plant on Skye and last recorded there in 1977. I am pleased to report a thriving population:

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Carex arenaria (Sand Sedge)

On the way home I stopped at Sligachan to look for Hammarbya paludosa (Bog Orchid) – success: 9 plants – and Rhynchospora fusca (Brown Beak-sedge) – total failure.

There were also more grasshoppers about than we usually see on Skye or Raasay. It seems to be a good year for them here.

Chorthippus parallelus ( Meadow grasshopper)

Chorthippus parallelus (Meadow grasshopper)

The short wings are useful in the determination. It was released after the photoshoot – no grasshopper were harmed in the making of this blog.