Posts Tagged ‘Amphibians & Reptiles’

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.


Sgùrr na Coinnich and Beinn Bhuidhe

August 9, 2016

Yesterday I ascended Sgùrr na Coinnich in the hope of finding some old records from the area. I had some successes: Luzula spicata (Spiked Wood-Rush) on Sgùrr na Coinnich and Parnassia palustris (Grass-of-Parnassus) by the Allt Beinn Bhuidhe, but also a number of failures: Gnaphalium supinum (Dwarf Cudweed), Oxyria digyna (Mountain Sorrel) and Persicaria vivipara (Alpine Bistort) last recorded around there in 1983, 1975 and 1967 respectively.

The plateau of Beinn Bhuidhe continues to harbour Arctostaphylos alpinus (Alpine Bearberry) as it has since at least 1772. Also Hieracium holosericeum (Shaggy Hawkweed), one of very few Hieracium species I am able to determine and that Lycopodium that I mentioned earlier in the year. Having had another good look at it, I think it is just environmentally stressed Lycopodium clavatum (Stag’s-horn Clubmoss).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I found a variety of leaf spots and other fungi and sawfly galls on Salix herbacea (Dwarf Willow), such as I have only seen on the Trotternish Ridge before.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On the way back to the road there was a single bush of Juniperus communis subsp. communis (Common Juniper) – unusual hereabouts compared with the dwarf subspecies.

Juniperus comm comm

and a bright yellow fungus, I am asking Bruce for help with

Later: He tells me this is Lichenomphalia alpina.

Yellow job

and a lizard – far too fast for me to obtain a useful image.


May 20, 2016

Today there is a two-banded longhorn beetle (Rhagium bifasciatum) on the house wall. I seem to see one of these per year here. A couple of days ago I spotted a larva of the Square-spot Rustic in the garden, again something I have found here before.

Square-spot Rustic Larva

Square-spot Rustic

There was the Scottish form of Common Pug in the polytunnel last week. It shot out of a hanging basket of strawberries as I watered it:

DSC01591a - Pug

Scottish form of Common Pug

This took a bit of debate amongst local moth folks but Roy Leverton has confirmed its identity.

Back at the beginning of May we had a Meadow Pipit in the garden for several days – presumably sheltering from the grotty weather before returning to its normal hunting ground on the moors.  Being right on the shore, I am more used to seeing Rock Pipits in the garden.

Meadow Pipit

Wet Meadow Pipit

Other things I haven’t mentioned include a Common Lizard on Raasay seen by Katherine and another near Healabhal Bheag (MacLeod’s Table South) seen by myself.


July 16, 2015

The SWT expedition yesterday was on probably the best day of the year so far weather-wise. I was able to do some good in the under-recorded 10 km square NG63 adding 10 new taxa:

Asplenium trichomanes subsp. quadrivalens (Maidenhair Spleenwort) – only new at the subspecies level

Cirsium heterophyllum (Melancholy Thistle) (This one was found by Bill & Deirdre)
Conopodium majus (Pignut)
Cystopteris fragilis (Brittle Bladder-fern)
Fraxinus excelsior (Ash)
Gymnadenia borealis (Heath Fragrant-orchid)

 Gymnadenia borealis

Gymnadenia borealis

Juncus bufonius (Toad Rush)
Melampyrum pratense (Common Cow-wheat)

Melampyrum as an epiphyte!

Melampyrum as an epiphyte!

Silene dioica (Red Campion)
Rosa caesia subsp. vosagiaca  (Glaucous Dog-rose)

Quite a few more plants were recorded for the first time in NG63 since before 2000 (often long before 2000) e.g. Allium ursinum (Ramsons), Chrysosplenium oppositifolium (Opposite-leaved Golden-saxifrage), Dryopteris filix-mas (Male-fern), Epilobium montanum (Broad-leaved Willowherb), Epilobium palustre (Marsh Willowherb), Pedicularis palustris (Marsh Lousewort), Polystichum aculeatum (Hard Shield-fern) and Selaginella selaginoides (Lesser Clubmoss).

Nick made two new county records of bryophytes: the hornwort Anthoceros punctatus on wet soil in Scalpay House garden and the leafy liverwort Calypogeia suecica on a decorticated rotten log.

I also enriched the list for tetrad NG62J, but pressing on…..

There were two places where the Holcus mollis (Creeping Soft-grass) was infected by the gall-causing fungus Epichloë clarkii:

Epichloë clarkii

Epichloë clarkii

This is a “choke” fungus that prevents flowering. Kew has no recent collection from Scotland so I am sending them a specimen.

I saw my first Carex smut of the year – the relatively common Anthracoidea karii on Carex echinata (Star Sedge) and the intertidal pools at one point had the alien seaweed Codium fragile:

Codium fragile

Codium fragile    “Green Sea Fingers”

Part of the shore with cliffs and caves had a nice collection of ferns including Asplenium scolopendrium (Hart’s-tongue), Asplenium trichomanes subsp. quadrivalens (Maidenhair Spleenwort), Hymenophyllum wilsonii (Wilson’s Filmy-fern), Osmunda regalis (Royal Fern) and Polystichum aculeatum (Hard Shield-fern).

Osmunda regalis on Scalpay

Osmunda regalis on Scalpay

Jean, Marie, Bill & Deirdre found the Nuphar lutea (Yellow Water-lily) doing well at its known site and Jean has a nice picture of a flower with Enallagma cyathigerum (Common Blue Damselfly) on it. Other damsels and dragons were seen including Pyrrhosoma nymphula (Large Red Damselfly, Cordulegaster boltonii (Golden-ringed Dragonfly) and Aeshna juncea (Common Hawker)

A couple of adders had been seen the previous two days on the path that I walked but I missed them. David and Jeanette saw a common lizard and toads (or at least, toad tadpoles).


July 14, 2014

In the end, the Fladaigh Chuain lists featured 35 bryophytes and 92 or 93 vascular plants (Atriplex seen from the boat was probably A. glabriuscula seen on land, but it was impossible to be certain). Also recorded were 29 species of bird, some in large numbers and including a single peregrine. We managed a few other records including rabbit, grey and common seals, the first ant record from the islands, Myrmica ruginodis, our commonest red ant locally, and Arion ater (Great Black Slug).

There was some distinctive-looking Ranunculus flammula (Lesser Spearwort) on Fladaigh Chuain with small flowers and glossy bright green leaves. I would like to make it R. flammula subsp. minimus which is known not far away in the Outer Isles, but it doesn’t seem right. The lowest leaves are key but it is possible that I just don’t have them on my specimen, which has now grown roots – so I will attempt to overwinter it.

Jean has found Stellaria graminea (Lesser Stitchwort) in the Dunvegan area, the first record for 50 years in the 10 km square NG24.

John reports that the Ononis repens (Restharrow) is flourishing:

Ononis repens

Ononis repens          Photo: J Hawell

This remains the only plant ever found in the vice-county.

EPOs and Other Things in Sleat

May 3, 2014

Today I set out to improve this in Sleat:

Orchis mascula before today

Orchis mascula before today

and did. So it now looks like this:

Orchis mascula now

Orchis mascula now

Two old sites given as Gillean Burn, NG50 and Allt na Beiste, Cruard, NG61V were both re-found.


Orchis mascula

Orchis mascula


That big yellow square NG60 refers to a record from Knock. I had a go for it last year but failed. It is surely somewhere in NG60.

Other highlights included a well-naturalised clump of Dicentra formosa (Bleeding-heart) looking perfectly at home amongst Corylus avellana (Hazel), Veronica montana (Wood Speedwell), Allium ursinum (Ramsons), Luzula sylvatica (Great Wood-rush), Ficaria verna subsp. fertilis (Lesser Celandine) and Circaea lutetiana (Enchanter’s-nightshade):



Now that I am home I realise that I should have checked carefully (i.e. measure the size of the flowers) to check whether it is in fact Dicentra eximia (Turkey-corn).  Ho-hum, I shall have to return.

The Prunus padus (Bird-cherry) was coming into flower on some bushes, but many were still tightly in bud or even barely coming into leaf.

Prunus padus

Prunus padus

This beautiful but sadly lifeless male adder was by the roadside near Achnacloich:IMG_3146a

More Tidying Up

September 10, 2013

The  P. gramineus (Various-leaved Pondweed) in Loch Dubhar-sgoth is definitely that, rather than Potamogeton x nitens (P. gramineus x perfoliatus)). All the pondweeds in this loch were covered in small nodules:

Potamogeton berchtoldii with nodules

Potamogeton berchtoldii with nodules

Potamogeton perfoliatus with nodules

Potamogeton perfoliatus with nodules

Chris Preston tells me they are probably colonial cyanophyta (Nostoc or similar) or (less likely) algae.

It turns out that there was another, earlier sighting of an adder during the Skye Botany Group meeting. Those who saw it kept quiet about it.

Tidying Up

September 10, 2013

Nick has sent a very useful list of plants from his land at Earlish. Most interesting were Mentha arvensis (Corn Mint) and Viola arvensis (Field Pansy), both featuring in the Rare Plants Register. It is almost embarrassing that the only two extant sites known to me for V. arvensis are in the gardens of the vascular plant Vice-county Recorder and the bryophyte VCR,

Coming back from the SBG walk Linda was”hissed at by a very fresh young Vipera berus! Slithered off into the seaweed at the top of the shore.” This looks like the first adder record for NG61 since before 2000.

At the meeting I gave Jean two micro-moths for Keith which I had found dead in the house. He says: “The large one is Brown House-moth  Hofmannophila pseudospretella. The smaller one is a particularly small example of White-shouldered House-moth  Endrosis sarcitrella.” Both of these are rather short of records in VC104 but as Keith says, “I’ve no reason to suspect that they would be uncommon here.”

Returning to yesterday’s aquatics, the large Sparganium looks very close to Sparganium emersum and I am sending it to Kay Fuhrmann in Germany for further examination. It would be amusing if I have found it a few days after my saying in effect that I didn’t believe it to be here.

Curiously, when the 1989 NCC Freshwater Lochs Survey visited Loch Dubhar-sgoth they recorded no Potamogetons at all. I feel this must have been a transcription error from the original data as some had been recorded there before their visit and there is no shortage now. The loch seems unlikely to have undergone significant change in the intervening years. It turns out that P. berchtoldii was a first for NG46 as indeed were Dactylorhiza incarnata (Early Marsh-orchid) which was still determinable to the species if not the subspecies in a Schoenus flush, Eriophorum latifolium (Broad-leaved Cottongrass) which was also in a Schoenus flush and Gnaphalium uliginosum (Marsh Cudweed) in its usual roadside/ruderal habitat.

Skye Botany Group – First Meeting

July 12, 2013

We treated ourselves to a limestone fix and explored the tetrad that includes Camas Malag, to the south of Torrin. The weather was kind, the company convivial and nine of us recorded the flora of the area, coming up with a total of 217 taxa on the day, 58 of which were new to the tetrad and one of those (Vaccinium vitis-idaea, Cowberry) was new to the 10 km square.

Limestone Country

Limestone Country

We found Samolus valerandi (Brookweed) at the mouth of the Allt nan Leac where it had previously been recorded from 1968 to 1989. This is one of only three localised records in the vice-county, one of which still needs to be re-found.

I didn’t take many photos as I was too busy manning the recording card, but I enjoyed this so much that I had to snap it:

Not-so-early-purple orchid

Not-so-early-purple orchid

What with an adder, red-throated divers and greenshank to add to the fun, most folks seem to have had a pretty good day. Planning for an August trip is in hand.