Posts Tagged ‘Birds’

Caol Rona

September 3, 2017

We walked to the north end of Raasay on Friday – about 4 miles from Arnish.  The weather was good – that was why we chose Friday – and we had encounters with Red Deer, Common Dolphins and a flypast by a fine Golden Eagle.

Some plant recording refreshed records from NG65; ideally more should be done before the Atlas 2020 cut-off in two years’ time.

Curiously, there were quite a lot of Chevron moths flying, though these are not noted daytime fliers.  Also a fine Knot Grass caterpillar:

Isay

July 5, 2017

Today I went with the SWT Skye Region Group to Isay in Loch Bay. We last went there in 2008 – and before that visit there was only one vascular plant record and no bryophyte records. Isay falls into two tetrads NG25D and NG25I. Today I added 26 taxa to the vascular plant list for NG25I bringing the total to 102 and 27 to the list for NG25D bring the total to 193.

Nick was reasonably happy with NG25D but fears NG25I may be the dullest tetrad on Skye bryologically. We may have to go to nearby Mingay and Clett to help. Actually there are the remains of a lime kiln on the east side of Mingay which might augur well for bryophytes and vascular plants. Perhaps a Skye Botany Group excursion next year?

Several quite large areas of Matricaria discoidea (Pineappleweed) were found. These were not there in 2008. They mostly also contained Cerastium glomeratum (Sticky Mouse-ear) and Gnaphalium uliginosum (Marsh Cudweed). On Skye, these are all typically found in field entrances, waste ground, etc.  It seems likely that Greylag Geese are the cause of these new habitats, probably by a combination of bringing in the seed, fertilisation and grazing. These three species were all new to Isay.

Gnaphalium & Matricaria

Matricaria & Gnaphalium

Carex distans (Distant Sedge) was a first record for NG25, as was Castanea sativa (Sweet Chestnut) – I spotted 4 rather stunted, planted specimens which I obviously missed in 2008.

Castanea 2 LR

Castanea sativa (Sweet Chestnut)

Other things:

Hyacinthoides LR

My last Hyacinthoides of the year?

Sagina subuata & Plantago coronopus LR

Sagina subulata and Plantago coronopus looking a little unusual

Otherwise, I saw my first Meadow Brown butterfly of the year plus Common Blues and Green-veined Whites. And a pair of Great Skuas defending territory. And Grey Seals. And Eider……….

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.

SWT Skye AGM

April 24, 2017

SWT AGM

The evening will also feature short talks from 3 speakers

Robin Harper – Chair of the SWT Council of Trustees

Bob McMillan – Skye Birds

Stephen Bungard – Local botanical finds in 2015/16

Broadford to Loch Loncahan

July 7, 2016

This week has seen the final round of my annual surveys at Loch Lonachan. It is still full of minnows.

On the way along the track from the Heaste road, put in by Scottish Water a couple of years ago, there was this cup fungus which I take to be a Peziza, but as these cannot be distinguished without microscopy and I did not take a specimen I shall not be bothering my mycologist friends with this one. Presumably there is something organic under the stones.

Peziza sp.jpg

Peziza sp.

There were a couple of sites for Eriophorum latifolium (Broad-leaved Cottongrass) by the path and one of these was accompanied by a good patch of Carex pauciflora (Few-flowered Sedge), a plant that is reasonably obvious for only a few weeks of the year and is in need of more old records being re-found.

Carex pauciflora LR

Carex pauciflora

Two days running there was a Hen Harrier in the area, which was nice.

Staffin Island

June 23, 2016

Bob, Nick and I took a dinghy to Staffin Island  today. I didn’t take my camera in case we ended up in the water but it was much more profitable than I had expected.

Staffin Dinghy

We made 132 vascular plant records on Staffin Island, the following (remarkably, in most cases) new to NG46: Atriplex glabriuscula (Babington’s Orache), Atriplex prostrata (Spear-leaved Orache), Juncus ranarius (Frog Rush) and Puccinellia maritima (Common Saltmarsh-grass). And there was another near the slip on Skye: Aira caryophyllea (Silver Hair-grass).

I have also taken a Euphrasia (Eyebright) specimen for expert determination – it looks like one of the uncommon ones to me. Later: Chris Metherell has determined it as Euphrasia foulaensis.

Bob recorded 21 bird species, 17 of them breeding.  This includes about seven pairs of bonxies.

557A5640 copy

Great Skuas on Staffin Island            Photo Bob McMillan

Nick found a small number of bryophyte species, but some rather good ones.

Miscellany

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.

Loch Niarsco

October 13, 2015

Yesterday I went to Loch Niarsco to update Elatine hexandra (Six-stamened Waterwort) and Subularia aquatica (Awlwort) records – successfully. I also found Sparganium erectum (Branched Bur-reed) but no sign of the Iris pseudacorus (Yellow Iris) recorded there by the NCC Loch Survey in 1989, which leaves me a little suspicious. I ended up trying to swim in the bog to inspect the Sparganium, only to find another patch within easy reach a few minutes later.

Overall I recorded 142 species in NG34Y, increasing the tetrad count from 49 to 156 and one record, for Potentilla sterilis (Barren Strawberry), was the first record in NG34 since 1995.

A lot of the washed-up Isoetes lacustris (Quillwort) was unusually curled:

Curly Quillwort

Curly Quillwort

There were Black Darters (Sympetrum danae) and larvae of Northern Eggar and Broom Moth.

On the way I went to look for Mentha x verticillata (Whorled Mint) beside the River Varragill south of Portree (successfully) and by the River Snizort near Skeabost Bridge (unsuccessfully). The problem with the latter site was that both parents were present, Mentha aquatica (Water Mint) in huge quantities, Mentha arvensis (Corn Mint) rather less so, making it very hard to find any hybrid plants – especially when it was all quite grazed.  The R. Snizort did have a nice Whooper Swan on it:

Whooper

Whooper

I collected a couple of Mentha specimens from Portree and Sligachan. One of these populations has been recorded as Mentha x rotundifolia (M. longifolia x suaveolens) in the past and they could both well be that, but I find the far end of Stace’s Mentha key where this plant keys out to be unusable, so I shall send specimens away to the Mentha referee.

I am beginning to see the light

July 18, 2015

It cost less than £100 but this Sony makes me begin to comprehend what these bird and photography buffs get out of it. These little fellows were half way down the garden and photographed through the kitchen window.

House Sparrows

House Sparrows

More Spring Snowflakes

May 6, 2015

It turns out that Bill & Deirdre have seen Leucojum vernum (Spring Snowflake) along the burn at Talisker Bay for some years where it has no doubt escaped from Talisker House. So the record from Sleat earlier this year will lose its precedence as a first vice-county record as soon as I can tie down a tetrad and date for Talisker.

The swallows are back on Raasay. The first Skye sightings were back on 9th April.

Tomorrow, weather permitting, a trip to Braes and next week I am on North Uist with other early season botanists.