Posts Tagged ‘Moths’

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….



More from Skye’s East Coast

June 8, 2017

The day before last Saturday’s Skye Botany Group outing, Ro went up Ben Tianavaig and added 45 taxa to the tetrad. I had been there at the beginning of April 2013 – see here and here hoping to re-find Saxifraga oppositifolia (Purple Saxifrage) and Dryas octopetala (Mountain Avens). I succeeded in the first but failed in the second. Ro also failed to find Dryas – maybe it has been lost in a rockfall. However, she did find a single plant of Arabidopsis petraea (Northern Rock-cress), previously recorded from this tetrad in 1967 by John & Hilary Birks.

Arabis petraea Ro Ben Tianavaig

Arabidopsis petraea Photo: R Scott

Yesterday, I visited the bits I failed to get to last week, NG54J and NG55F. They now have 105 and 135 taxa recorded respectively, and I added a few to NG55A and B while passing through. There was lots of Equisetum telmateia (Great Horsetail), Eupatorium cannabinum (Hemp-agrimony) and Hypericum tetrapterum (Square-stalked St John’s-wort) all of which have limited and essentially coastal distributions on Skye.

Some of the trees were covered in lichens and bryophytes. like this Goat Willow:

Salix caprea epiphytes

Salix caprea – epiphytic flora

Not that I am getting seriously into micromoths but I managed two yesterday that have been confirmed by Keith and Nigel:

The given vernacular names are Nettle Tap and Plain Gold.

This rust on Hypochaeris radicata (Cat’s-ear) is Puccinia hieracii var. hypochaeridis:

Coincidentally Steve sent me this image from Suisnish which is of a similar thing on Pilosella officinarum (Mouse-ear-hawkweed), Puccinia hieracii var. piloselloidarum:

Puccinia hieracii var. piloselloidarum

He also sent me a picture of Botrychium lunaria (Moonwort) that appears to have a fungus on it but that has yet to be identified:


May 4, 2017

I put the trap out a few nights ago and caught 33 moths including three species I hadn’t had before:

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Caterpillar & Fern

March 26, 2017

Nick reports Hymenophyllum wilsonii (Wilson’s Filmy-fern) from Allt Daraich where I failed to re-find it based on an old record, just over a year ago.

I found this moth larva whilst doing a bit of spring tidying in the garden:

larva 170324

Nigel tells me it is the larva of the Large Yellow Underwing – a moth I often get in the moth trap later in the season. It apparently comes in brown and green forms.

The Last Skye Botany Group Meeting of 2016

October 1, 2016

Yesterday we took a gentle stroll up Glen Sligachan from Sligachan itself. We managed to record 104 vascular plant taxa in a generally species-poor area very late in the season – the number being boosted by plants around the Sligachan Hotel. Nick also recorded bryophytes and we spotted a few invertebrates, fungi and a frog to add to the store of data collated by the Highland Biological Recording Group.

We found a single plant of Eriocaulon aquaticum (Pipewort) in the River Sligachan.  Whilst there is plenty about in nearby lochans, this is the first time I have seen it actually in a river.

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The last tetrad with 100% land and no records

August 26, 2016

Yesterday I went to NG34E in which part of the Edinbane wind-farm is located. It was the last tetrad in VC 104 with no records ever. It now has 122.

There are still four tetrads with 20 -80% land and no records, mostly a bit of a pain to get to, plus more with <7% land, and then there are tetrads with earlier records but none since before 2000 (nine with 100% land and five with >20% land).

The wind-farm roads added quite a few species such as Capsella bursa-pastoris (Shepherd’s-purse), Cerastium glomeratum (Sticky Mouse-ear), Spergularia rubra (Sand Spurrey) and Urtica dioica (Common Nettle). There was also a nice wet area with Comarum palustre (Marsh Cinquefoil), Menyanthes trifoliata (Bogbean) and Sparganium natans (Least Bur-reed).

However, the tetrad to the west, NG24Z was less fun: lots of Molinia tussocks and not many plant species. In 2012 I recorded 74 taxa. After several hours in it yesterday that total has risen to 97.

It was a good day for insects, however. Heather Flies everywhere – this is their time of year – and several species each of butterflies, dragonflies and moths including this one which I have yet to sort out:

Moth NG2848

Also a lizard. I doubt if I shall ever get a photo of one, they skedaddle so fast.


Bay Continued

August 22, 2016

John went back the next day and explored one of the burns that runs into the next tetrad to look for Orthilia secunda (Serrated Wintergreen) where I had found it in 2003/4.

Orthilia secunda Waternish LR

Orthilia secunda            Photo: J Hawell

He also spotted Pinguicula lusitanica (Pale Butterwort) which we hadn’t found the previous day:

Pinguicula lusitanica Waternish LR

Pingicula lustanica                             Photo: J Hawell

and this rose which seems to me to be classic Rosa mollis (Soft Downy-rose) with prickly hips and straight thorns on the stems.

Rosa mollis Watrenish LR

Rosa mollis     Photo: J Hawell

I went back to the area the following day, mostly to pass through to the next tetrad to the west. This was the penultimate tetrad in the vice-county with 100% land and no records ever.  I intend to knock off the last of these shortly.  The next sets to aim for are those with no records since before 2000, and tetrads with very few records. There are still 82 tetrads with <50 records ever – but a few of these really do not have many species as they contain only  small areas of land  e.g. I have been to tetrad NM19M and there are no plants as it is all below mean high water springs and no Zostera. Again, I have been to NG63E and there really are only 10 types of plant in it. And so on.

Anyway, I went back to the Honey Fungus to look for fruiting bodies but failed to find any. Growing on a dead standing conifer, it is most likely Armillaria ostoyae which is common in the Highlands. (It is a specimen of this fungus that is thought to be the largest organism on the planet.)

I visited the estuary area that John and I didn’t get to, where I re-found most of the relevant old records and added Bolboschoenus maritimus (Sea Club-rush).  I also re-visited the Sagina apetala (Annual Pearlwort) we found by the road, just to double-check my identification.

I found a patch of Montia fontana (Blinks) that I thought might be subsp. chondrosperma but when I looked at the specimen I took home, there were no seeds. All dispersed already. Here is a seed from Montia fontana subsp. fontana that I took at Bay: very shiny and without tubercles:

Montia fontana

Montia fontana subsp. fontana seed


Raasay SSSI Part 3

July 16, 2016

I returned to one of the two known Arabidopsis petraea (Northern Rock-cress) sites on Raasay where I had failed to find any plants last week. This time, armed with images from earlier years I succeeded, though the natural cycle of erosion and colonisation is putting this colony in danger. There again, another erosion event might provide bare rock with crevices that would be very suitable for Arabidopsis.


I returned to the proliferative deergrass and found much more. A specimen sent to Jeremy Roberts confirmed it as the hybrid Trichophorum x foersteri.

I also checked up on some Orthilia secunda (Serrated Wintergreen) in a site I hadn’t visited for over twenty years and nearby found a new site for Gymnocarpium dryopteris (Oak Fern).

There were several very fine specimens of Northern Eggar larvae around:

Northern Eggar Larva

Northern Eggar feeding on Calluna vulgaris

On Wednesday, members of the Skye Botany Group joined me to complete the southern part of the Raasay SSSI Site Condition Monitoring. We looked at two sites, one for Epipactis atrorubens (Dark-red Helleborine) and one for Dryas octopetala (Mountain Avens).

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Scottish Moth Caterpillars by Habitat

June 28, 2016

The East Scotland branch of Butterfly Conservation has been busy again. They now have pages of Scottish Moth Caterpillars by Habitat split into

Grassland & Marsh
Road verges & Woodland edges
Hedge, Scrub & Carr

Raasay, East of Arnish

June 13, 2016

It was ten years since I had last checked up on the Allium vineale (Wild Onion) on Sìthean Mòr. It looks much as it did in 1991 when I first found it and it remains the only known location in the vice-county.

Allium vineale Raasay

Allium vineale

Yesterday was a very pleasing day with lots of locally unusual but not rare plants such as Calamagrostis epigejos (Wood Small-reed), Carex otrubae (False Fox-sedge), Carex remota (Remote Sedge) and Vulpia bromoides (Squirreltail Fescue).

The butterflies are really out and about now with lots of Common Blues and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries.

There were quite a few moths too

plus other insects that I could identify like Common Green Grasshopper, Common Ground-hopper and Common Earwig. I don’t remember seeing a Ground-hopper on Raasay before but they are well camouflaged and leap quickly if disturbed.

There was a leaf mine on Sonchus asper (Prickly Sow-thistle) that I thought might lead to a useful record

Sonchus asper leaf mine In situ

but it turns out that there are two species of the dipteran genus Chromatomyia that might be responsible and the difference is visible only in interior details of the male genitalia so the only way to distinguish them is to rear the adult, hope for a male, and then have the skill and patience to check out the anatomy. Thanks for that, Murdo.