Posts Tagged ‘Birds’

Odds & Ends

March 9, 2021

This little rove beetle was on the outside of the house. It is Tachinus subterraneus (thanks Bruce and Stephen M) and amazingly not recorded by Richard Moore during his years of beetle recording on Raasay. There are curiously few Scottish records on NBN, too.

Tachinus subterraneus

This moth-fly today is Psychoda sp. but going further than that requires checking the genitalia and/or antennal tip – not for me nor even for my bug/beetle/general entomology expert friend!

Psychoda sp

In the bay outside there are two Canada Geese – numerous enough to be a pest in places but a real rarity on Raasay.

Canada Goose on Raasay

Early February at Home

February 9, 2021

There is a lone curlew on the shore. I think there was just one this time last year – perhaps the same individual. Recently, there have been a flock of Purple Sandpipers, Turnstones and a pair of Goosanders to add to the usual Red-breasted Mergansers, Mallards, Eider, etc.

I have recorded Rhododendron Bud Blast before. Then it was called Pycnostysanus azaleae, but now it is Seifertia azaleae.

Seifertia azaleae

Several galls are present on small sallows along the road. I opened one up and found it to be caused by the gall midge Rabdophaga salicis.

Early one morning, I found this little chap in the bathroom, Amaurobius similis or perhaps A. fenestralis :

Amaurobius cf similis

We are having a period of cold weaher but escaping the serious snow affecting much of Scotland.

The Garden Safari Continues

April 10, 2020

Soon, I shall write something about plants, given the title of this blog. Meanwhile here is a Square-spot Rustic larva from leaf litter below the Blackcurrants:

Square-spot Rustic

Square-spot Rustic Larva

Two Hebrew Character moths from the moth trap:

Hebrew Charcter x2

Hebrew Character x2

I get lots of these looking like the right-hand specimen, but the larger brown form on the left had me baffled.

As last April, there is a Black-headed Gull on the sea in front of us:

Black-headed Gull

Black-headed Gull

In the Garden

March 28, 2020

Recent days have been fine and sunny so I have spent a lot of time gardening. More digging and tidying have resulted in several more caterpillars but they have looked too difficult to identify for me to try. A single click beetle larva (wireworm) in one of the vegetable beds does not concern me  – 100 would be different! Anyway, I like click beetles with their spine and notch system that produces the click and bounces them into the air.

There have been many flies about, mostly small, but some larger like this Eudasyphora (likely E. cyanella or E. cyanicolor) (Thanks, Seth):

Eudasyphora sp.

Eudasyphora sp.

The moth trap yielded four moths, one each of Hebrew Character, Early Grey, Clouded Drab and Red Chestnut.

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The annual plague of white-legged snake millipedes has started. I see I wrote about these a year ago.

MIllipedes on outside wall

MIllipedes on outside wall

There was a chiffchaff in the garden a few days ago (reported to Skye Birds) and a raft of eider singing in the bay. The Herring Gulls were at ease awaiting the tide:

Herring Gulls

Herring Gulls

Beyond Glen Caladale

November 29, 2019

I have just spotted that this was never posted at the end of May, so for the record…..

One of the few remaining tetrads with no records ever was NG32H to the west of Eynort and south of Talisker Bay. On Tuesday Neil and I chose to walk in from Eynort and sorted that out with 136 records.

We found no great rarities but Asplenium marinum (Sea Spleenwort) on the shore and Silene acaulis (Moss Campion) on the cliffs were nice.

Silene acaulis

Silene acaulis

On the way we saw some fine examples of animal topiary with the gorse:

Gorse topiary

Gorse topiary

We startled a barn owl off the cliffs and a peregrine flashed pass at one point. We also spotted a fine Argent & Sable:

Argent & Sable

Argent & Sable



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

Those Red Squares

May 18, 2019

Neil has now paddled to the east side of Longay to record in NG63Q and in passing had a look at the northern tip of Pabay where NG62U features on the list of VC104 tetrads. The latter, as shown on the OS map, has no land above the high water mark and unsurprisingly, Neil found it to contain no plants. There are several like this in the vice-county and in future editions of my tetrad numbers map I shall turn these another colour meaning there really are zero vascular plants.

Yesterday Neil kindly shared his double kayak with me and we went to Griana-sgeir off Fladday (itself off Raasay) as this is the only land in NG55Q and never recorded before. We found 23 plants in this small outpost, normally the domain of seals and seabirds.



There is an area of shell sand but it lies entirely below the high water mark, so does not influence the vegetation. The major environmental factor apart from the exposed coastal location appears to be the seabirds, adding nitrogenous material to the area.

Gull nest

Gull nest

I spotted this fly on a dandelion and await Murdo’s verdict, though it may not be possible to determine from an image. I had no net or containers with me, but I did capture some ants….

Fly on Griana-sgeir

Fly on Griana-sgeir

We did not land on Glas Eilean as there is a large tern colony – we estimated about 200 birds, but we did go to Fraoch Eilean which was very different from Griana-sgeir, having rowan trees and bracken – but still only 28 plant species recorded.  Both these islands are in a tetrad that has been well recorded on Raasay but I had never been to them before.

Neil spotted a fabulous little moth Pammene rhediella (Fruitlet Mining Tortrix) on the rowan (there were quite a number of them):

Pammene rhediella

Pammene rhediella on rowan


Catch-up: Non-botany at Home

April 23, 2019

Our first cuckoo of the year woke me up at 0450.  April 23rd is a popular date for the first cuckoo at West Suisnish.

For those living further south, a black-headed gull will be a common sight, but not here:

Black-headed Gull190409

Black-headed Gull at West Suisnish

This little spider is Textrix dendiculata, the toothed weaver (thanks for i.d. Gemma) and was basking on the outside of the house:

Textrix dendiculata

Textrix dendiculata (Toothed Weaver)

The moth trap has been out a few times with Hebrew Character moths being by far the most frequent but this Early Thorn was nice:

Early Thorn

Early Thorn

and Seth has kindly determined this carabid beetle from the bathroom basin as Pterostichus nigrita:

Pterostichus nigrita

Pterostichus nigrita


Corncrakes – Talk on Wednesday

November 28, 2017

A bit late but…..


Flying Eagle, Other Matters

November 9, 2017

The day started well with a golden eagle flying slowly past the window during breakfast, pursued by a heron and squads of hooded crows and herring gulls.

Last Saturday was the Scottish Annual Meeting of the Botanical Society of Scotland and the Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland, held at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh. It was an excellent day with 150 participants. For me the highlight was being able to compare herbarium specimens of Agrimonia eupatoria (Agrimony) and Agrimonia procera (Fragrant Agrimony). This confirmed my view that the Skye plants are the latter – see e.g. this previous post. To be even more certain, I have today sent a specimen to Douglas McKean at RBGE. Images of Skye specimen by Steve Terry:


Tuesday saw the second Skye Nature Group expedition which seems to have gone well – slugs and snails, pseudoscorpions, centipedes and white disco fungi featuring amongst other finds. I was sorry to miss it but had a better offer!

This coming Saturday (11th) is the Highland Biological Recording Group’s autumn meeting at Strathpeffer Community Centre, 10.30 for 11.00. The main talk is

Rare Invertebrates in the Cairngorms – A lesson in treasure hunting.

Gabrielle Flinn, Rare Invertebrates in the Cairngorms Project Officer

Also coming up soon: