Posts Tagged ‘Moths’

Beyond Glen Caladale

November 29, 2019

I have just spotted that this was never posted at the end of May, so for the record…..

One of the few remaining tetrads with no records ever was NG32H to the west of Eynort and south of Talisker Bay. On Tuesday Neil and I chose to walk in from Eynort and sorted that out with 136 records.

We found no great rarities but Asplenium marinum (Sea Spleenwort) on the shore and Silene acaulis (Moss Campion) on the cliffs were nice.

Silene acaulis

Silene acaulis

On the way we saw some fine examples of animal topiary with the gorse:

Gorse topiary

Gorse topiary

We startled a barn owl off the cliffs and a peregrine flashed pass at one point. We also spotted a fine Argent & Sable:

Argent & Sable

Argent & Sable



Recent Activity

September 30, 2019

While I was away for three weeks, Skye Nature Group went to Trumpan and Halistra Loch. It was apparently a very wet day but in Halistra Loch they managed to re-find four species that had not been recorded in the whole of NG26 since last century: Eleogiton fluitans (Floating Club-rush), Potamogeton praelongus (Long-stalked Pondweed), Sparganium angustifolium (Floating Bur-reed) and Sparganium natans (Least Bur-reed).

Sparganium angustifolium

Sparganium angustifolium. A wet day at Halistra Loch           Image: S Gibson

The day after we got home I took the Skye Botany Group to a limestone outcrop near An -t-Sron, north of Camusunary. This was the last SBG outing of the year and a good time was had by all. In tetrad NG51J we made 116 records of which 59 were new and 10 were firsts since pre-2000. Dipping briefly into NG51E we made 62 records of which 29 were new and one was a first since pre-2000. (New and firsts are slightly overstated owing to a small number of subsp. records etc. e.g. Pedicularis sylvatica subsp. sylvatica cf. Pedicularis sylvatica.)

We found Vicia sylvatica (Wood Vetch), which is not common on Skye and even less so away from the coast, and also spotted an adder, a slow-worm, a couple of toads and this Rush Veneer:

Rush Veneer

Rush Veneer

Meanwhile, John has had a go at the Gesto square and added nearly 90 taxa to the tetrad including Castanea sativa (Sweet Chestnut), Nothofagus obliqua (Roble), Olearia x haastii (Daisy-bush) and the dreaded Cortaderia richardii (Early Pampas-grass). He has also started on NG25V near Fairy Bridge and is adding good species like Neottia cordata (Lesser Twayblade), Comarum palustre (Marsh Cinquefoil) and Drosera anglica (Great Sundew). I feel he has been lurking in the bog.

Convolvulus Hawk-moth

August 31, 2019

Look what Ali next door brought home on his car (it hadn’t been off-island):

Convolvulus Hawk-moth

Convolvuus Hawk-moth

This is a big beast. There have been several in moth traps on Skye in the past couple of weeks.

Images from Colonsay – Insects

July 10, 2019
Belted Beauty larva Colonsay

Belted Beauty Larva

Celypha cespitana

Micro-moth Celypha cespitana

Omocestus viridulus

Common Green Grasshopper

Clouded Buff

Clouded Buff

Northen Eggar Larva

Northen Eggar Larva

Parasitic Wasp

Parasitic Wasp

Yellow Shell

Yellow Shell

To Ollach Lochs

June 6, 2019

South of Healabhal Beag (MacLeod’s Table South) there is a group of three lochs that had not been visited by a recording botanist for over fifty years. The tetrad they lie in had a few post-1999 records from when I dropped into the northern edge from Healabhal Beag in 2015, plus a few more from Nick and others. It now has 147 post-1999 species recorded.

Beinn Bhac-ghlais had the sort of things one might expect: Diphasiastrum alpinum, (Alpine Clubmoss), Salix herbacea (Dwarf Willow), Vaccinium vitis-idaea (Cowberry), etc.

One of the lochs had several of this large Caddis-fly which I fear will have to go unidentified:


Unidentified Caddis

and I spotted this micro-moth, the Yellow-Faced Bell (Notocelia cynosbatella) (thanks Keith for ID):

Notocelia cynosbatella

Notocelia cynosbatella

There were Clouded Borders and Chimney Sweepers too.

The area around Orbost turned out to be rather more poorly recorded than I had realised and I added lots of records to adjacent tetrads. Bromus hordeaceus (Soft-brome) is pretty infrequent on Skye and Schedonorus arundinaceus (Tall Fescue) even more so, but both were present along the main track:

When Skye Nature Group was at Uig last week we noted some Alopecurus pratensis (Meadow Foxtail) where the lower part of the inflorescence seemed to be eaten away. There was more like that at Orbost and a similar effect on Anthoxanthum odoratum (Sweet Vernal-grass). I tried to take some photos but they didn’t turn out well enough to share. I am interested to know what causes this, though.

There was also a planted shrub that I haven’t yet managed to identify:

Later: It is a Spiraea, perhaps Spiraea hypericifolia. There is the same thing in Dunvegan Castle grounds and Ingrid has promised to check their records for an ID.

I spotted a fly mine on Atriplex prostrata (Spear-leaved Orache) which Seth tells me is probably Pegomya sp. but one has to rear the fly for a firm ID.

There was also this on Populus tremula (Aspen), which I am hoping will turn out to be caused by an interesting moth:


Those Red Squares

May 18, 2019

Neil has now paddled to the east side of Longay to record in NG63Q and in passing had a look at the northern tip of Pabay where NG62U features on the list of VC104 tetrads. The latter, as shown on the OS map, has no land above the high water mark and unsurprisingly, Neil found it to contain no plants. There are several like this in the vice-county and in future editions of my tetrad numbers map I shall turn these another colour meaning there really are zero vascular plants.

Yesterday Neil kindly shared his double kayak with me and we went to Griana-sgeir off Fladday (itself off Raasay) as this is the only land in NG55Q and never recorded before. We found 23 plants in this small outpost, normally the domain of seals and seabirds.



There is an area of shell sand but it lies entirely below the high water mark, so does not influence the vegetation. The major environmental factor apart from the exposed coastal location appears to be the seabirds, adding nitrogenous material to the area.

Gull nest

Gull nest

I spotted this fly on a dandelion and await Murdo’s verdict, though it may not be possible to determine from an image. I had no net or containers with me, but I did capture some ants….

Fly on Griana-sgeir

Fly on Griana-sgeir

We did not land on Glas Eilean as there is a large tern colony – we estimated about 200 birds, but we did go to Fraoch Eilean which was very different from Griana-sgeir, having rowan trees and bracken – but still only 28 plant species recorded.  Both these islands are in a tetrad that has been well recorded on Raasay but I had never been to them before.

Neil spotted a fabulous little moth Pammene rhediella (Fruitlet Mining Tortrix) on the rowan (there were quite a number of them):

Pammene rhediella

Pammene rhediella on rowan


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


Catch-up: Botany

April 21, 2019

As well as filling the gaps i.e. visiting tetrads with no or few records, this year’s theme will be to look for missing hectad records i.e. those known in a 10km square before 2000 but not re-found.

Last Wednesday Neil, Seth and I walked the Osdale Burn and went two-thirds of the way up Macleod’s Table North looking for four such old records. We re-found Anemone nemorosa (Wood Anemone), though on a different burn from that of the original record, and Equisetum pratense (Shady Horsetail) sort of where it was known from previously. One version of the 1991 record said “above the gorge” whilst another said “west of gorge”. Taking these two together  I had taken above to mean upstream, which is also west.  However, it turned out to be above the gorge (in altitudinal terms) but north of the gorge. Ah well, modern technology means there is now an 8-figure grid reference for future searchers.

We failed to find Alchemilla alpina (Alpine Lady’s-mantle) or Trollius europaeus (Globeflower) at the 1990 grid ref for both. Indeed there was no suitable looking habitat. Neither could we find them on the more likely looking cliffs nearby.

We had a couple of day-flying moths – our first Common Heath of the year and Philedonides lunana (Heath Twist) which is a good record for Skye.

On Friday I went to Sgùrr na h-Iolaire and Loch Dhùghaill in Sleat as reported a couple of  days ago. Here I was hoping for missing hectad records for Galium boreale (Northern Bedstraw), Galium verum (Lady’s Bedstraw) and Hymenophyllum tunbrigense (Tunbridge Filmy-fern) but failed on all three. I also failed to find an old site for Osmunda regalis (Royal Fern).

However, it was a good day with a new tetrad record for Orchis mascula (Early-purple Orchid) which is not all that common in Sleat and a re-find of Rubus saxatilis (Stone Bramble).   Sean on Rum had beaten me to the first flowering Early-purple Orchid by three days, finding one at Kilmory on the 16th.

There were Common Heath on the wing again. Some plants in flower:

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Steve has sent pictures of a poplar which we think is Populus x jackii (Balm-of Gilead) (Thanks, Mike) planted at Skinadin:

Poplar hybrids always need a bit of care, so a little more checking is in order.

At Borve, Neil tells me that Daphne mezereum (Mezereon) has escaped along the road.

D. mezereum is new to Skye, there being an old record from Kinloch Castle on Rum, and P. x jackii is the first VC104 record since 1987.

After a Bit of a Gap….

March 2, 2019

Quite a long gap really, since I last wrote on this site.  However, a review of plant recording in VC104 for July-December 2018 is on my BSBI page. With Jim McIntosh I have recently completed a country round-up for Scotland for the next BSBI News due out in April.

I have started on plans for this year’s recording and will publish some thoughts here soon. Members of Skye Botany Group can expect an e-mail some time this month.

The mild weather has brought out the insects with a white-tailed bumblebee in the garden in February and many moths being recorded on Skye. I put out the trap a couple of nights ago and had 5 Dotted Border, 1 Early Grey, 1 Common Quaker and 1 Chestnut.


Micromoths (2)

November 8, 2018

Following my last post I went looking for Knopper galls on the oaks near the Old Manse here on Raasay but as usual there were no acorns – so no galls (and yes, I know these are caused by a gall wasp not a moth)  However, in the beech hedge there was a green-island leaf mine:

Phyllonorycter maestingella on Beech

Phyllonorycter maestingella on Fagus sylvatica

I was interested to see that the green-island effect induced by leaf-miners is mediated by bacterial symbionts, at least in the closely related Phyllonorycter blancardella:                  

“Curing leaf-miners of their symbiotic partner resulted in the absence of green-island formation on leaves, increased compensatory larval feeding and higher insect mortality. Our results suggest that bacteria impact green-island induction through manipulation of cytokinin levels.”

On another note, the 1952 paper referred to in the last post does not appear to have any micromoths in it.