Posts Tagged ‘Fish’


April 19, 2021

Last time I said I would write a separate entry about spiders, but I realise that I have already covered two of the three recent interesting finds. The third may be Philodromus emarginatus which would be an excellent record for the west coast of Scotland. However, it was immature when captured and so I have been rearing it. It has moulted once but is still not mature enough for a definitive i.d.

Philodromus emarginatus maybe

Some shore-work with two grandsons led to two useful fish records, Eelpout (Zoarces viviparus) which is unusual in producing live young, and Shore Rockling (Gaidropsarus mediterraneus). Both, but particularly the latter, are very useful additions to the local marine list.

Whilst on the shore we found a number of small flatworms that are probably Procerodes littoralis, which according to MARLIN: “Unlike similar species….moves like a leech when disturbed, rather than moving smoothly”. I actually thought they were leeches initially, but that didn’t seem likely in a salty pool at the top of the shore.

Procerodes littoralis Probably

Some interesting micromoth larvae have turned up – probable Eupoecilia angustana f. fasciella (Marbled Conch) swept off heather (Calluna vulgaris) and almost definitely Stictea mygindiana (Cowberry Marble) mines and larvae on Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi). The former has very few records locally; the latter is new to the vice-county. I am trying to rear adults from both.

This springtail may be Tomocerus sp. and this water cricket is Velia caprai:

Velia caprai is quite common on Skye & Raasay but the other species known in the Highlands, Velia saulii, has no records on NBN for this area. This picture from Bernard Nau’s draft Keys to Aquatic & Semi-aquatic Heteroptera shows how to tell them apart easily enough.

Thanks are due to Nigel Richards, Seth Gibson and Stephen Morean for help with identifications.

Catch-up Time

August 25, 2020

A family expedition to Brochel at low tide produced this fine fish under a rock:

Cornish Sucker (A Clingfish) Lepadogaster purpurea

The taxonomy of Lepadogaster was confused for many years but a 2003 paper sorted out the difference between this and L. lepadogaster using a combination of morpholgical and molecular characteristics. This diagram shows a reliable difference:

Yesterday, walking to the south of the River Drynoch I spotted this proliferative Dactylis glomerata (Cock’s-foot). This is a known phenomenon in this grass, see e.g. here.

Proliferative Dactylis gloerata

Nearby there were two Light Knot Grass caterpillars

Light Knot Grass Larva

and a couple of adult Shaded Broad-bar moths:

Shaded Broad-bar

Neither of these have large numbers of records locally.

In the Garden 15th May 2020

May 15, 2020

Last Sunday a young otter was exploring our garden – something we have never seen before, though we see them beyond the garden on the shore and in the sea. There has been a Great Northern Diver in the bay for some time and, as it is May, we can hear cuckoos.

I managed to identify a harvestman – probably the easiest to recognise with its spiky headdress:

Megabunus diadema

Megabunus diadema

and Bruce kindly identified a fungus for me that is growing on dead Euphorbia griffithii (Griffith’s Spurge) stems as Phomopsis euphorbiae. It is not the most photogenic of things, but there are only two records on NBN Atlas one of which is in Scotland by Murdo – identified by Bruce a few years ago.

Phomopsis euphorbiae

Phomopsis euphorbiae

Last night’s moth trap was very limited, but gave me my first Pale-shouldered Brocade of the year.

Pale-shouldered Brocade

Pale-shouldered Brocade

The Tutsan (Hypericum androsaemum) is nearly in flower:


Tutsan in bud

and I found evidence of sharks in the garden.

lesser-spotted dogfish

Lesser-spotted Dogfish Egg Case

The egg case of what is now officially known as the small-spotted catshark, will have been brought in with seaweed used to fertilise the vegetable beds, it has not decomposed over the winter as has most of the seaweed.

The Seashore at the Equinoctal Tide

March 9, 2016

A little early for the equinox we are seeing the extreme equinoctal tides. James took a group to see what we could find at low water today at Ardnish. Here are a few of the things we saw:

Zostera growing in maerl bed

Eelgrass (Zostera marina) growing in maerl bed

Marbled Swimming Crab.jpg

Marbled Swimming Crab (Liocarcinus marmoreus)


Gadoid fish

Feather Star

Rosy Feather-star

Bloody Henry Starfsh

Common Starfish

Peacock Worm

Peacock Worm

HBRG Meeting at Tain

December 9, 2014

This happened ten days ago and I was much enamoured of a talk on the Highland Seashore Project by George Brown. I am hoping he will give a talk on Skye next year.

Yarrell’s blenny in a scaffold tube below Kylesku Bridge   Photo: G. Brown

Yarrell’s blenny in a scaffold tube below Kylesku Bridge         Photo: G. Brown

Whiting not Sprats (Correction)

October 30, 2014

The shore is covered with dead whiting (Merlangius merlangus) after the storm:

Sprats 2Sprat 1Clearly they are not to the gulls’ taste. There was an otter along the shore this morning this morning though they did not seem to his taste either.

Thanks to Aisling Smith of the Marine Biological Association for the i.d.

Fish (Modified Version)

August 27, 2014

I was initially pleased to find minnows in Loch Lonachan as it looked like a new record not only for Skye but for the Inner and Outer Hebrides as well. NBN shows  no Hebridean minnow records and nor does the 1983 “Salmon & Freshwater Fishes of the Inner Hebrides” (Campbell & Williamson, Proc. Roy. Soc. Edin. 83B 245-265).

However, Ellie sent me a link to a report on twelve Skye rivers in 2005 that recorded minnows in several parts of the River Snizort system. What is more the author suggests that these are unlikely to be native, having probably been introduced as live bait by anglers. So it is likely that the same applies to Loch Lonachan.  On the bright side, the report also gives detailed records for Brook Lamprey, Eel, Three-spined stickleback and Flounder which I have transcribed and sent to HBRG from where they will be sent to NBN.

Furthermore…. Bill tells me that there are shoals of minnows in Loch Sleadale and that they are thought to be the cause of a catastrophic collapse of the brown trout population, perhaps because they they eat the small fry. There is no small tributary at Loch Sleadale  for the trout to breed where thay  might be safe. Possibly, the shrimp have been eaten as well.

So what we found in Loch Lonachan is probably the introduction of an unwanted locally non-native species that is harming the aquatic ecosystem.


Recent Sightings

August 16, 2014

I have spent several days at Loch Lonachan, surveying aquatic plants but in passing we spotted broom moth larvae and this insect which I wasn’t sure if it was a caddis fly or a moth. Keith suggests it might be the moth Rhigognostis senilella (Rock-cress Smudge) which has been recorded from VC104, though Loch Lonachan is a little way from the nearest Rock-cress whether it be Arabis alpina, A. hirsuta or Arabidopsis petraea, or indeed other known host plants. Later: Identified as a caddis fly of the genus Hydropsyche – see comments below.

Hydropsyche sp.

Hydropsyche sp.

The loch was full of what appear to be minnows, which is rather nice. There are Heather Flies everywhere at the moment with their long red legs dangling down as they fly.

Then, back to Trotternish before the weather breaks, to Càrn Liath in fact, to look at calcareous screes.  Càrn Liath is impressive

Càrn Liath

Càrn Liath

if less than 500m high, and the boulder scree to the north, equally so:

Càrn Liath

Càrn Liath

The lower parts of it have some trees – all Sorbus aucuparia (Rowan) giving an unusual landscape for Skye:

Lower scree

Lower scree

The rock is basalt, which is calcareous, so it is perhaps not surprising that the landscape is redolent of limestones areas – though the flora is not a limestone flora.

There was a curious Vaccinium that I think is just V. vitis-idaea (Cowberry) with unusually crenate leaves:



I found the Cryptogramma crispa (Parsley Fern) where it has been known for over 50 years – and perhaps much longer, earlier records being a bit vague. This is a strangely rare plant on the Trotternish Ridge.

Cryptogramma crispa

Cryptogramma crispa

On the way back towards the car this Common Hawker obligingly stayed still for a photo:

Aeshna juncea

Aeshna juncea

Driving home through Portree I spotted a large and handsome specimen of Lythrum salicaria (Purple-loosestrife) by the roadside – a plant with rather few Skye records.

Loch Leathan

August 7, 2014

The delayed SWT trip to Loch Leathan took place yesterday and as soon as we were out of the car we spotted a new site for the locally uncommon Campanula rotundifolia (Harebell or Scottish Bluebell):

Campanula rotundifolia

Campanula rotundifolia

There were various pondweeds in the loch and some interesting potential Equisetum hybrids to look at. Parnassia palustris (Grass-of-Parnassus) was around the loch in good numbers:

Parnassia palustris

Parnassia palustris

We found lots of dead Three-spined Sticklebacks in the loch.  They seem unlikely bait and in any case the loch is fly-fishing only, so assuming that they belong there (and they have been recorded there in the past) the mystery is why there were so many dead ones.

Three-spined stickleback

Three-spined stickleback