Posts Tagged ‘Moths’

Loch na Feithe Seilich, Loch Glac Mairi Nic Colla & Allt Choire nan Clach

August 24, 2018

Tetrad NG72A was visited by a party from the 2005 BSBI Field Meeting on Skye. They visited the eastern side – Allt nan Con and Loch an Ime. This was clearly not a rich area as they recorded only 75 taxa. Memory suggests it was a pretty wet day, too. (I was leading another party at the time.) These were the only records for this tetrad.

Yesterday I went to see if I could improve matters. I intended to visit the western side but starting over at the eastern edge as that is the nearest road.  However, the Allt Mòr was in full spate and despite being in wellies, the depth and flow persuaded me not to cross it. So I collected a Hieracium specimen and drove round to the Sleat road so as to approach from other side. This, it turned out, meant navigating an enormous sea of Molinia.

Once I reached Loch na Feithe Seilich and Loch Glac Mairi Nic Colla I added a few aquatics including Utricularia stygia (Nordic Bladderwort) (confirmed once home by examining the quadrifid hairs on the bladders).

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Utricularia stygia (Nordic Bladderwort)

However, the Allt Choire nan Clach turned out to be one of those pleasing Skye burns with rocky gullies and a diverse flora such as Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry), Juniperus communis subsp. nana (Dwarf Juniper), Populus tremula (Aspen), Rubus saxatilis (Stone Bramble) and so on, such that the taxon count now stands at a much more respectable 144.

There was a fine group of polypore fungi on a dead tree (probably Birch Polypore)

bracket fungus 180823

Polypore

and a fine Black Slug (Arion ater) enjoying a piece that had dropped off:

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Arion ater

I also spotted several different hairy caterpillars including these two, which I do not see frequently (thanks to Nigel for idents):

I really love your tiger feet.

Ullinish

August 14, 2018

A few days ago I discovered that a batch of records from the 1987 NCC Freshwater Loch Survey had an incorrect grid reference, putting them in tetrad NG33J rather than NG33Z. NG33J had looked moderately well recorded in terms of numbers of species and had not got onto my To Do list. However, once these incorrect records were reassigned it looked pretty poor, so yesterday I went to do something about it and recorded 213 taxa – with a couple of Atriplex specimens still to check.

Dun Beag lies within the tetrad and is the best preserved of the 50 or so brochs on Skye but I had never made the short walk from the road to inspect it.

It wasn’t much fun botanically, however. But the rest of the tetrad was: Cakile maritima (Sea Rocket), Carex otrubae (False Fox-sedge), Equisetum x litorale (Shore Horsetail) and Juncus ranarius (Frog Rush) were all new to the 10km square NG33, as were the planted Prunus avium (Wild Cherry), Saxifraga x urbium (London Pride) and Sorbus intermedia (Swedish Whitebeam).

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Cakile maritima

The Cakile is rare on Skye.

Asplenium ruta-muraria (Wall-rue), Bolboschoenus maritimus (Sea Club-rush) and Lycopus europaeus (Gypsywort) were the first NG33 records since before 2000, in the case of the Bolboschoenus, the first since 1915.

Additionally there were new sites for the locally uncommon Glechoma hederacea (Ground-ivy) and Sparganium erectum (Branched Bur-reed), though the latter has arguably lost that status owing to recent discoveries:

On the moth front there was a fine Knot Grass caterpillar on Salix repens (Creeping Willow) and I got a distant shot of a Shaded Broad-bar (Thanks, Nigel for i.d.), something I do not recall seeing before.

Penifiler Lochs and Camas Bàn

July 19, 2018

On Tuesday Skye Botany Group went to Penifiler Lochs and Camas Bàn. We found Drosera anglica (Great Sundew) and Sparganium natans (Least Bur-reed) for the first time in NG44 since before 2000 – where they had been reported back then.

When I got home I realised that I hadn’t taken any photographas but here is one of Druim Loch from Caroline, showing Lobelia dortmanna (Water Lobelia) and Nymphaea alba (White Water-lily):

Water lobelia

Druim Loch       Photo: C Dear

We failed to find others I had hoped for: Melampyrum pratense (Common Cow-wheat), Plantago coronopus (Buck’s-horn Plantain) and Salsola kali subsp. kali (Prickly Saltwort). The last was recorded at Camas Bàn from 1963 to 1974 but not since, so it was a bit of a long shot – and Storm Hector last month probably cleared the sand of any plants, anyway.

However, there was Carex laevigata (Smooth-stalked Sedge) and Saxifraga hypnoides (Mossy Saxifrage), so a useful visit.  Nick  had an excellent time in the calcareous sandy bryophyte-rich turf at the back of Camas Bàn, including a new vice county record, Leiocolea gillmanii, a rare liverwort that was abundant there, and Brachythecium glareosum, known from only one other site in the vice-county, and last seen in Skye by Birks in the 70s.

We also spotted this moth larva on Myrica gale (Bog-myrtle) which we believe to be Light Knot Grass:

Light Knot Grass larva

Light Knot Grass Photo: S Terry

Gob na h-Oa

July 14, 2018

Gob na h-Oa (The Tip of Oa, if that helps) is a point west of Fiskavaig partly in tetrad NG33C, which until yesterday had a mere 29 plant taxa recorded. There are now 138. It is 92% sea but the land has some nice cliffs with Anthyllis vulneraria (Kidney Vetch) and Rubus saxatilis (Stone Bramble) and there are good colonies of Honckenya peploides (Sea Sandwort) and Populus tremula (Aspen).

The sea caves are good:

and there were moths about including lots of Yellow Shells:

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Yellow Shell

I dropped down into Camas Aird an t-Sabhail to look for Carex arenaria (Sand Sedge), a rare plant on Skye and last recorded there in 1977. I am pleased to report a thriving population:

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Carex arenaria (Sand Sedge)

On the way home I stopped at Sligachan to look for Hammarbya paludosa (Bog Orchid) – success: 9 plants – and Rhynchospora fusca (Brown Beak-sedge) – total failure.

There were also more grasshoppers about than we usually see on Skye or Raasay. It seems to be a good year for them here.

Chorthippus parallelus ( Meadow grasshopper)

Chorthippus parallelus (Meadow grasshopper)

The short wings are useful in the determination. It was released after the photoshoot – no grasshopper were harmed in the making of this blog.

Eilean nan Each

June 27, 2018

Eilean nan Each (Horse Island) lies off northwest Muck and sits conveniently within a single 1 km square of the National Grid. The island was visited in the 1938 by King’s College, University of Durham (now Newcastle University), in the 1960/70s by the Dobsons who lived on Muck and wrote a flora, by my predecessor as vice-county recorder C W Murray plus two colleagues in 1996 and also by N Taylor in 1996.

However, no records have been made since then until yesterday when I travelled with Nick (bryophytes), Bob (birds) and Roger & Pat (mammals). It is quite floristically rich with several orchid species. We found large numbers of Platanthera bifolia (Lesser Butterfly-orchid) including some pretty robust specimens.

 

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Platanthera bifolia (Lesser Butterfly-orchid)

and added Gymnadenia borealis (Heath Fragrant-orchid) to the island list

Gymnadenia borealis (Heath Fragrant-orchid)

Gymnadenia borealis (Heath Fragrant-orchid)

but failed to find the previously recorded Coeloglossum viride (Frog Orchid).

As on other small islands it seems to me that Greylag Geese are changing the vegetation as evidenced by the addition of plants like Capsella bursa-pastoris (Shepherd’s-purse) and Matricaria discoidea (Pineappleweed) to the list.

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Capsella & Matricaria

As usual I recorded some rusts, galls and insects. We had a good selection of butterflies including Painted Ladies and I think this fungus on Caltha palustris (Marsh-marigold) may be Puccinia calthae, with few records on NBN and only one in VC104. I await Bruce’s verdict. Later: He says Puccinia calthicola. (No VC104 records on NBN).

Puccinia calthae maybe

Puccinia calthae maybe

This micro-moth, Keith tells me, is Chrysoteuchia culmella (Garden Grass-Veneer).

ENE Micro 2

Garden Grass-Veneer

Colonsay

June 24, 2018

I have just spent an excellent week outside my patch on Colonsay with David, Kevin, Pete and Simon. Colonsay is about 2/3rds the size of Raasay and the highest point 1/3rd that of Raasay, but the other major difference is the presence of sand, lots of sand. So its has several plants at I hardly ever see such as Anchusa arvensis (Bugloss) and Anagallis arvensis (Scarlet Pimpernel) and several that have never been recorded from VC104 such as Radiola linoides (Allseed). It also represents the northern limit (more or less) for the fen plants Epipactis palustris (Marsh Helleborine) and Juncus subnodulosus (Blunt-flowered Rush).

Interestingly, there was a great deal of Utricularia stygia (Nordic Bladderwort) in flower. Whilst this appears to be the only representative of the U. intermedia aggregate in  my patch, I have only once seen it in flower on Skye.

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Utricularia stygia (Nordic Bladderwort)

There were good insects too:

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Lowlands

June 13, 2018

Following my excursion into the heart of the Cuillin I have had a couple of shortish lowland trips. Firstly, I went into a tetrad with only two records (ever) southwest of  Mugeary. Secondly, in between the dentist in Kyle and a forestry meeting back on Raasay, I  visited Loch nam Madadh Uisge and Luib, principally to resolve the ridiculous position of having no post-1999 record of Eleocharis palustris (Common Spike-rush) for the entire 100km2 that is NG52. (Well, 92.8km2 that is land or freshwater, if anyone is counting.) There are 20 pre-2000 records in eight different tetrads.

The Mugeary tetrad was mostly pretty dull – forestry plantation or uninspiring moor, but to get there I passed though some really nice marsh/wet meadow and at the end of my time in the target tetrad (NG43I) I found a stretch of burn that had many of the common species I had not seen plus a splendid bog with Comarum palustre (Marsh Cinquefoil) and Carex canescens (White Sedge) which cheered me up and helped raise the taxon count for the tetrad to a magnificent 85.

There were also Large Heath (as well as Small Heath) butterflies and a fine Northern Eggar moth:

Moving on….. At Loch nam Madadh Uisge, finding Eleocharis palustris (Common Spike-rush) turned out to be harder than I expected. The loch is full of the similar Eleocharis multicaulis (Many-stalked Spike-rush), but I eventually found a few spikes in the wee burn at the north end. I had forgotten that this loch is a Pipewort loch and the flower stalks were now above water level – though the leaf rosettes alone are very distinctive.

I also spotted my first flowering Dactylorhiza incarnata (Early Marsh-orchid) and Platanthera bifolia (Lesser Butterfly-orchid) of the year:

Ruadh Stac

June 10, 2018

Yesterday I set off for Ruadh Stac as it sits in a tetrad with no post-1999 records. It is a tetrad that I intend to cover in two parts – the high part, Ruadh Stac itself, from the east and the low part from either the north (Sligachan) or the south (Camasunary). Most pre-2000 records appear to come from the lower area.

I walked up the Abhainn Ceann Loch Ainort and then the Allt Coire na Seilg and climbed out of the corry rather higher up Garbh-bheinn than I had originally intended – but the plants were of course changing as I got higher and I wanted to add what I could to this tetrad whilst passing through.

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Oxyria digyna

Some of the Arabidopsis petraea (Northern Rock-cress) had light purple petals which is not unknown but not frequent on Skye:

Arabidopsis petraea (Northern Rock-cress)

Arabidopsis petraea (Northern Rock-cress)

Despite being at nearly 600m I resisted the temptation to carry on to the top at 808m and descended to 330m in order to head up Ruadh Stac at 493m. The views were great in all directions, if slightly hazy.

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Lochan Dubha and the Black Cuillin

I watched a Golden-ringed Dragonfly take a Large Red Damselfly in mid-flight and carry it off. The LRDF had been in cop so all in all not a great result for any of them except the GRDF.

Couple of random critters:

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Boreraig & Creag an Daraich

June 7, 2018

I walked in from the east, parking at Heast. There were 1996 records of Eupatorium cannabinum (Hemp-agrimony), Saxifraga aizoides (Yellow Saxifrage) and Ulmus glabra (Wych Elm) from the Allt na Peighinn waterfall. They were all still present, as were Carex remota (Remote Sedge) and Geum urbanum (Wood Avens).

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Allt na Peighinn waterfall

Up on Creag an Daraich I refound Carlina vulgaris (Carline Thistle), though just over the border from the tetrad where it was recorded in 1998. I didn’t manage Ophioglossum vulgatum (Adder’s-tongue), also 1998, but I ran out of time at that end of the trip having spent too long peering at things on the way.

Vulpia bromoides (Squirreltail Fescue) was plentiful on one of the old houses at Boreraig – and new to NG60.

I saw my first Six-spot Burnet imago of the year:

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Six-spot Burnet

my first definite Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary of the year:

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Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary

this fly, which is probably Chrysopilus cristatus (Black Snipefly):

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Black Snipefly probably

and Phragmidium rosa-pimpinellifoliae on Rosa spinosissima:

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Phragmidium rosa-pimpinellifoliae

 

 

Lòn Salach, Braes

June 5, 2018

Yesterday I had a look at the lower reaches of Lòn Salach near Gedintailor in Braes. It turned out to be quite a nice burn with a long wooded gorge. It sits in tetrad NG53C which previously had just three records from when I dipped into the very edge to the north of Ben Lee and recorded three alpine species in 2012.

There was Trollius europaeus (Globeflower) in flower and as is so often the case in these gorges, a great deal of bird-sown Cotoneaster simonsii (Himalayan Cotoneaster). Some of this is reaching tree-like proportions.

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Cotoneaster simonsii (Himalayan Cotoneaster)

There were lots of moths about and I managed to photograph a few including the Broken-barred Carpet (thanks Keith for i.d.) which does not have many Skye records:

Other plants typical of these gorges included Galium boreale (Northern Bedstraw), Orchis mascula (Early-purple Orchid), Polystichum aculeatum (Hard Shield-fern) and Rubus saxatilis (Stone Bramble).