Posts Tagged ‘Amphibians & Reptiles’

Loch Eadar dà Bhaile, Raasay

November 29, 2019

Seven members of Skye Nature Group circumnavigated (well, nearly) Loch Eadar dà Bhaile, the loch between the townships of Balachuirn and Balameanach on Wednesday. This is a rich loch where the vegetation is slowly covering the open water. We recorded 123 plants of which Fragaria vesca (Wild Strawberry), Hypericum androsaemum (Tutsan) and Sanicula europaea (Sanicle) were new to the monad (1km square). Additionally, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry) was spotted (in large quantities) for the first time since the 1990s.

We started up a woodcock and found a newt – not in the loch – and the fungi were good, including Birch Jelly (Exidia repanda), Green Elfcup (Chlorociboria aeruginascens) (probably) and Pipe Club (Macrotyphula fistulosa var. contorta).

Chlorociboria aeruginascens

Chlorociboria aeruginascens

Pipe Club Macrotyphula fistulosa

Macrotyphula fistulosa

Oh yes – and we inspected the 170m run of Crocosmia pottsii (Potts’ Montbretia) from Balameanach to the shore of Loch Eadar dà Bhaile that until this year had been recorded as Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora (Montbretia (C. aurea x pottsii)).

Crocosmia pottsii Balameanach

Crocosmia pottsii at Balameanach

Recent Activity

September 30, 2019

While I was away for three weeks, Skye Nature Group went to Trumpan and Halistra Loch. It was apparently a very wet day but in Halistra Loch they managed to re-find four species that had not been recorded in the whole of NG26 since last century: Eleogiton fluitans (Floating Club-rush), Potamogeton praelongus (Long-stalked Pondweed), Sparganium angustifolium (Floating Bur-reed) and Sparganium natans (Least Bur-reed).

Sparganium angustifolium

Sparganium angustifolium. A wet day at Halistra Loch           Image: S Gibson

The day after we got home I took the Skye Botany Group to a limestone outcrop near An -t-Sron, north of Camusunary. This was the last SBG outing of the year and a good time was had by all. In tetrad NG51J we made 116 records of which 59 were new and 10 were firsts since pre-2000. Dipping briefly into NG51E we made 62 records of which 29 were new and one was a first since pre-2000. (New and firsts are slightly overstated owing to a small number of subsp. records etc. e.g. Pedicularis sylvatica subsp. sylvatica cf. Pedicularis sylvatica.)

We found Vicia sylvatica (Wood Vetch), which is not common on Skye and even less so away from the coast, and also spotted an adder, a slow-worm, a couple of toads and this Rush Veneer:

Rush Veneer

Rush Veneer

Meanwhile, John has had a go at the Gesto square and added nearly 90 taxa to the tetrad including Castanea sativa (Sweet Chestnut), Nothofagus obliqua (Roble), Olearia x haastii (Daisy-bush) and the dreaded Cortaderia richardii (Early Pampas-grass). He has also started on NG25V near Fairy Bridge and is adding good species like Neottia cordata (Lesser Twayblade), Comarum palustre (Marsh Cinquefoil) and Drosera anglica (Great Sundew). I feel he has been lurking in the bog.

Reptiles and Amphibians Today

April 19, 2019

I went to the Loch Dhùghaill area of Sleat today – more on botany this week later. But in this post I can report a Common Lizard (alive), 1 frog alive and 20 dead plus an adder that had recently been run over. I first found it looking like this:

Adder 1


and forgetting just how black they can be on the underside, wondered what the heck I had found. However, I turned it over and it looked as I expected:

Adder 2

That “Paperdry” thingy is 35 cm across, so it was a good specimen.

Adder 3


All those bluish dead frogs in the loch weren’t good though. Perhaps a fungus record for Bruce?

Dead Frog

Dead Frog


August 26, 2018

Geary Ravine is one of our riches botanical sites on Skye but yesterday I reached the top end of it and turned my back so as to record what looked like a seriously dull tetrad. At different times Carl (2006) and I (2012) had made a few records whilst passing through. We had amassed a total of 47 taxa.  The best bet to improve that score seemed to be to walk up the Abhainn a’ Ghlinne and indeed after half an hour I had added a further forty. Four hours later the taxa count was up to 111.

I also made a foray into NG26K to the south and at the top of Ben Geary I found Salix herbacea (Dwarf Willow), new to NG26 and infected with Rhytisma salicinum (Willow Tarspot).


Rhytisma salicinum on Ben Geary

Additionally, some leaves had clearly been browsed by something small:

salix herb grazed

Salix herbacea grazed

There were masses of Twin-Spot Carpet moths but most pleasing was a Common Lizard making use of the only piece of litter I saw to warm up:


Common Lizard

It had clearly regrown its tail at some point.

I did quite well for invertebrate and fungus records, but nothing of great rarity.

Strath Mòr

July 12, 2018

Strath Mòr runs from Luib in the north to near Torrin in the south and contains lochs and marsh with interesting species. The highlight of my recent visit was a single flowering Hammarbya paludosa (Bog Orchid), the first record for NG52 since 1976.


Nor for the first time, I failed to find any Eriocaulon aquaticum (Pipewort) in Loch na Sguabaidh. My predecessor also failed to find it. The source of the records is the 1989 NCC Freshwater Loch Survey and I suspect rosettes of Isoetes lacustris (Quillwort) may have been mistaken for it. Either that, or a small population was there and has been lost.


Isoetes lacustris in Loch na Sguabaidh

Also, Schoenoplectus lacustris (Common Club-rush) is not to be found at “Abhainn an t-Sratha Mhoir, 1km length above NG562249” as reported in 1990. Again I have tried before and so did my predecessor. However, small colonies are missable – the only known Raasay site is a few chewed stems that were overlooked until 2000.

There were several sites for Utricularia stygia (Nordic Bladderwort). A single plant had flowered though was a little past is prime:

Utricularia stygia Strath Mor

Utricularia stygia (Nordic Bladderwort)

Otherwise….. lots of smuts on Star Sedge, various dragons and damsels, too many green-eyed Deerflies, a Brown China-mark moth and lots of toads.

Ruadh Stac

June 10, 2018

Yesterday I set off for Ruadh Stac as it sits in a tetrad with no post-1999 records. It is a tetrad that I intend to cover in two parts – the high part, Ruadh Stac itself, from the east and the low part from either the north (Sligachan) or the south (Camasunary). Most pre-2000 records appear to come from the lower area.

I walked up the Abhainn Ceann Loch Ainort and then the Allt Coire na Seilg and climbed out of the corry rather higher up Garbh-bheinn than I had originally intended – but the plants were of course changing as I got higher and I wanted to add what I could to this tetrad whilst passing through.


Oxyria digyna

Some of the Arabidopsis petraea (Northern Rock-cress) had light purple petals which is not unknown but not frequent on Skye:

Arabidopsis petraea (Northern Rock-cress)

Arabidopsis petraea (Northern Rock-cress)

Despite being at nearly 600m I resisted the temptation to carry on to the top at 808m and descended to 330m in order to head up Ruadh Stac at 493m. The views were great in all directions, if slightly hazy.


Lochan Dubha and the Black Cuillin

I watched a Golden-ringed Dragonfly take a Large Red Damselfly in mid-flight and carry it off. The LRDF had been in cop so all in all not a great result for any of them except the GRDF.

Couple of random critters:

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SNG in Dunvegan Woods

April 15, 2018

Skye Nature Group walked the Two Churches Walk at Dunvegan on Wednesday. We recorded various invertebrates – molluscs, insects, arachnids, myriapods – plus some birds, a frog plus many tadpoles and of course I made plant lists.

Gerris costae

The pondskater Gerris costae       Image S. Gibson

The route took us through two tetrads and we added 15 taxa to the northern one, NG24P, and 44 to the less well recorded southern one, NG24N.

The woods have various planted shrubs such as Olearia macrodonta (New Zealand Holly) and Griselinia littoralis (New Zealand Broadleaf), the latter making the first record in the wild in VC104.

Griselinia littoralis

Griselinia littoralis

Something we thought might be a Cotoneaster has leaves similar in shape to C. salicifolius (Willow-leaved Cotoneaster) but they are larger than reported in the literature and lacking a tomentose underside – both of which might be effects of shading. Once identified, the leafspot fungus will probably be straightforward! I shall have to go back in the summer – as I will to check putative Ulex minor (Dwarf Gorse) and Lonicera nitida (Wilson’s Honeysuckle).

Cotoneaster sp. maybe

Cotoneaster sp. maybe

Dwarf Gorse is thought always to be an introduction in Scotland where it is sometimes planted as an ornamental and can escape. Given the number of other planted/naturalised plants in this area, that would seem likely. It is not known from the NW Highlands or any of the islands and so I want to see it in flower before recording it. Well done Seth for spotting it!

The Plant-hunting Season Begins

March 27, 2018

Records are beginning to arrive

  • Saxifraga oppositifolia (Purple Saxifrage) in flower at sea level on 18th (Roger).
  • Huperzia selago (Fir Clubmoss) in a bog in a new tetrad (Seth).
  • Pinguicula lusitanica (Pale Butterwort) – only the second record earlier than June in VC104 – and only the 9th March record on the BSBI database for all of Britain & Ireland (Seth).
  • Hymenophyllum wilsonii (Wilson’s Filmy-fern) and a second site for Erica vagans (Cornish Heath) at Kinloch (Ro and Roger). This is interesting as it was not thought to spread this far north and the first plant could easily have been planted but the second in nearby woodland looks like naturalisation.
Wilson's FF - Kinloch - NG70950 15573 - 260318

Hymenophyllum wilsonii at Kinloch       Image R. Cottis

and they also found a female adder basking:

Female Adder Kinloch - 260318 - 1

Adder at Kinloch              Image R. Cottis

Next Friday, I have been tempted out by Seth – report in due course……

Skye Botany Group Trip – Updated

May 9, 2017

Nine of us, some from a considerable distance away, had a very pleasant day on the hill in the sunshine watching eagles but failing dismally to re-find 1982 records for Kalmia procumbens (Trailing Azalea).  Botanically the area was generally pretty thin but we added a few species to three tetrads.

The next day Ian went into the hills above Cluanie on the mainland and fell over the plant in question:

Kalmia procumbens

Kalmia procumbens   Photo: I Moir

In other news, Steve has added Sagina subulata (Heath Pearlwort) to the list for NG50 and Robin and Rachel spotted a male adder between Glen Brittle Beach and Rubha an Dùnain a couple of days ago.

The last tetrad with 100% land and no records

August 26, 2016

Yesterday I went to NG34E in which part of the Edinbane wind-farm is located. It was the last tetrad in VC 104 with no records ever. It now has 122.

There are still four tetrads with 20 -80% land and no records, mostly a bit of a pain to get to, plus more with <7% land, and then there are tetrads with earlier records but none since before 2000 (nine with 100% land and five with >20% land).

The wind-farm roads added quite a few species such as Capsella bursa-pastoris (Shepherd’s-purse), Cerastium glomeratum (Sticky Mouse-ear), Spergularia rubra (Sand Spurrey) and Urtica dioica (Common Nettle). There was also a nice wet area with Comarum palustre (Marsh Cinquefoil), Menyanthes trifoliata (Bogbean) and Sparganium natans (Least Bur-reed).

However, the tetrad to the west, NG24Z was less fun: lots of Molinia tussocks and not many plant species. In 2012 I recorded 74 taxa. After several hours in it yesterday that total has risen to 97.

It was a good day for insects, however. Heather Flies everywhere – this is their time of year – and several species each of butterflies, dragonflies and moths including this one which I have yet to sort out:

Moth NG2848

Also a lizard. I doubt if I shall ever get a photo of one, they skedaddle so fast.