Posts Tagged ‘Birds’

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:


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:


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.


April 24, 2017


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.


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.