Posts Tagged ‘Mammals’

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.

Berraraig Bay and Beyond

May 26, 2017

Back in the last century Dryas octopetala (Mountain Avens) (1976) and Epipactis atrorubens (Dark-red Helleborine) (1996) were discovered on the cliffs of Berraraig Bay. Then in 2006 I added a third Nationally Scare species to the same habitat, Cephalanthera longifolia (Narrow-leaved Helleborine).

For several years I have been meaning to get there in May when the Cephalanthera is in flower and on Thursday I achieved it. I counted over 40 plants, over a 700m stretch. I will certainly have missed some non-flowering specimens as quite a few plants are a little way up a near-vertical cliff.

This was an exceptional day for me in that I added the three Nationally Scarce species above to tetrad NG55C (as well as other nice things like Neottia ovata (Common Twayblade), and two to NG55H, Dryas and Equisetum x font-queri (Font-Quer’s Horsetail) as well as Neottia ovata again, and Vicia sylvatica (Wood Vetch).

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Now I know Equisetum x font-queri, unlike Equisetum telmateia (Great Horsetail), is supposed to bear a cone at the top of fertile stems but this is ridiculous:

Equisetum font-queri Berreraig Bay Malformed

There were rusts and similar I haven’t found before:

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and all sorts of other things – generally a great day.

Orbost & Healabhal Bheag (MacLeod’s Table South)

July 31, 2015

I had an excellent walk from Orbost Farm, up the Orbost Burn and on to Healabhal Bheag yesterday. Tetrads NG24G & L had their recorded taxon count raised from 12 and 6 to 107 and 173 respectively and a very brief wander into NG24F improved the count there from 12 to 65.

MacLeod's Table South

MacLeod’s Table South

Ten species were found that had not been recorded in the 10km square NG24 since before 2000:

Botrychium lunaria Moonwort
Capsella bursa-pastoris Shepherd’s-purse
Diphasiastrum alpinum Alpine Clubmoss
Epilobium hirsutum Great Willowherb
Gentianella campestris Field Gentian
Neottia cordata Lesser Twayblade
Pilosella aurantiaca Fox-and-cubs
Salix pentandra Bay Willow
Saxifraga oppositifolia Purple Saxifrage
Vaccinium vitis-idaea Cowberry

and seven of these had never been localised to a tetrad before.

The preceding post shows Epilobium brunnescens (New Zealand Willowherb) on the south end of Healabhal Bheag, great swathes of it as one finds on the Trotternish Ridge.

Dwarfed Prunellla vulgaris (Selfheal) can look quite exotic once it loses its petals:



I had a close encounter with a fox in very fine condition and found this True Lover’s Knot

True Lover's Knot

True Lover’s Knot

drowned in this pool


which as well as the Sparganium angustifolium (Floating Bur-reed) had Large Red Damselfly and another moth that declined to stay still long enough to have its picture taken.

There were Magpie Moths everywhere. Brian says from Carr Brae “we never see [them] here on the mainland any more.  Very strange as it used to be very common.”

I may have found Vaccinium x intermedium (V. myrtillus x vitis-idaea) growing with both parents (Bilberry & Cowberry) but I am seeking expert opinion.

Rubh’ an Dùnain – Skye Botany Group

June 16, 2015

Yesterday the Skye Botany Group visited Rubh’ an Dùnain.  Loch na h-Airde is Skye’s only brackish loch. In fact, judging by its taste yesterday it is highly saline, and it has seaweeds growing in it. It is the only site in the vice-county for Ruppia cirrhosa (Spiral Tasselweed). There was a great deal of tasselweed in the loch but there was no sign of flowers or fruit yet making separation from Ruppia maritima (Beaked Tasselweed) difficult. I have brought a bit home to see if it will develop flowers but on the basis of the dark green obtuse leaves and the previous records, I am content that that is what we were seeing.

 Loch na h-Airde and Stone Canal

Loch na h-Airde and Stone Canal

We recorded in three tetrads (and made a few records in a fourth we walked through) and made a significant improvement to the numbers of plants recorded in two of them (previously only 8 and 28 taxa). The third was better recorded previously though records from 2000 onwards were only 35.

The Vicia orobus (Wood Bitter-vetch) that Carl found ten years ago was thriving with at least five plants in flower.

Vicia orobus

Vicia orobus

Steve spotted several Argent and Sable moths and there were both types of seal and a porpoise in the sea.

Talk in Portree Tonight – Mammals

March 4, 2015

Roger Cottis will be giving a talk on Mammals of Skye & Lochalsh tonight (Wednesday 4th March) at Tigh na Sgire, Portree starting at 7.30 pm. I don’t have a poster this time but the usual SWT prices obtain: Members £1, Non-members £2. All proceeds to Scottish Wildlife Trust.

Odds & Ends

November 12, 2014

It hardly seems worth mentioning the fine Humpback Whale that has been in the Sound of Raasay for a couple of weeks – it is all over the web – Facebook, BBC Scotland etc. But for the sake of completeness….

June tells me that she has a Snow Bunting on her bird feeder in Inverarish. There has also been one at Staffin see Skye Birds.

This ichneumon arrived last night:

IMG_4253aMurdo says “One of the Ophionidae parasitic wasps.  I think this is Netelia, from what I see of the venation, but like all the ichneumons species ID is desperately difficult.”


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.

Fladaigh Chuain

July 1, 2014

Fladaigh Chuain and associated islands lie to the north of Skye. Today a multidisciplinary team (with a distinct bias towards plants) made the trip from Uig thanks to Andi of SkyeXplorer.  We had a look at An t-Iasgair (Fisherman’s Rock) but did not land as it appeared that the number of bird species exceeds the number of plant species.

An t-I

An t-Iasgairgair

From there we went on to Gaeilavore Island where most of us  landed and made a somewhat better plant list – about 24 species.

Gaeilivore Island

Gaeilivore Island

Meanwhile the boat circumnavigated Thon Eilean and spotted six plant species.

Thon Eilean

Thon Eilean from Gaeilivore

The main event followed with 3-4 hours on Fladaigh Chuain and a plant list that has yet to be consolidated but is likely to number about 70 including lots of Ligusticum scoticum (Scots Lovage)

Ligusticum scoticum

Ligusticum scoticum

Several species such as Plantago lanceolata (Ribwort Plantain), Ranunculus acris (Meadow Buttercup) and Succisa pratensis (Devil’s-bit Scabious) showed the hairy character typical of exposed habitats.

Hairy Plantago lanceolata

Hairy Plantago lanceolata

There was Asplenium marinum (Sea Spleenwort), quite a lot of Ophioglossum vulgatum (Adder’s-tongue) and a dozen specimens of Dactylorhiza purpurella (Northern Marsh-orchid) in one spot.

We then toured Gearran Island and Lord Macdonald’s Table recording a few species and returned to Uig seeing porpoises on the way. In many ways the birds were the stars of the day with large numbers of some species, such as puffins, and a total species count of about 20.  The bryophyte count was about 15.

Mammal  records were restricted to seals and rabbits – apart from the porpoises. We also spotted jellyfish including a huge Lion’s Mane and collected an ant for Murdo.