Posts Tagged ‘Moths’

Skye Botany Group at Brothers’ Point

September 23, 2021

A couple of days ago, we went to Brother’s Point on Skye to try and find Gentianella campestris (Field Gentian), last seen there in 1964 and last seen in the 10 km square NG56 in 1985. In this we succeeded though only one plant was found and that, unsurprisingly by late September, was somewhat past its prime.

We took a break from botany to check out the dinosaur footprints and the putative quernstone quarry, finding large numbers of Blue-rayed Limpets on the kelp, in passing.

We added four taxa to the NG56 list: Atriplex glabriuscula (Babington’s Orache), Atriplex prostrata (Spear-leaved Orache), Polygonum aviculare s.s. (Knotgrass), though there were records for P. aviculare agg. (1997) and P. depressum (previously P. arenastrum) (2019) and Spergularia marina (Lesser Sea-spurrey).

Polygonum aviculare on a promontory at Brothers’ Point

As well as the gentian, the following had not been recorded in NG56 since before 2000: Carex lepidocarpa (Long-stalked Yellow-sedge) (1997), Hydrocotyle vulgaris (Marsh Pennywort) (1997), Isolepis setacea (Bristle Club-rush) (1999) and Neottia ovata (Common Twayblade) (1958).

We also added Ervilia (Vicia) sylvatica (Wood Vetch) to one of the two tetrads we looked at, which is not common on Skye.

Both here and at Borve (see previous post) and also in the garden at home there were lots of Nettle-taps about.


Aquatics & Caterpillars

September 10, 2021

A sub-group of Skye Botany Group went to Loch Connan and Loch Niarsco, principally to look for Potamogeton berchtoldii (Small Pondweed), which had been recorded in the NCC Loch Survey in 1989 but not since in the 10 km square NG34. We succeeded in Loch Connan, but not in Loch Niarsco:

Potamogeton berchtoldii (Small Pondweed)

We found Potamogeton alpinus (Red Pondweed) at an old site in Loch Niarsco and also this unusual looking Sparganium that is probably the S. emersum x S. angustifolium hybrid, Sparganium x diversifolium, though a specimen has been sent for expert determination. This would be new to VC104. Later: Determined as most likely diminutive S. emersum – though there was a big patch like this. Disappointing.

On the shore I spotted some leaf mines on Caltha palustris (Marsh-marigold) which Seth determined as being caused by Phytomyza calthophila. This was confirmed by the national scheme recorder as a first for the Inner Hebrides.

And, for something different, recent moth larvae from the garden:

From the top: Angle Shades, Bright-line Brown-eye, Brimstone Moth and Knot Grass

New Moths

September 1, 2021

A moth trap at home a few days ago yielded five moths I haven’t had here before:

Thanks to Keith and Mark for some of the identifications. So far this year I have added 31 moths to my list of adult moths found here in West Suisnish, making a running total of 232.


July 20, 2021

I see that it is nearly two weeks since I last posted. Here are a few items from that period. John has found Luzula luzuloides (White Wood-rush) by a woodland path on Eigg. This is a neophyte that is grown for ornament, naturalised in woods and by shady streams, scattered throughout most of Britain, but mainly in Scotland. However, this is the first record for vice-county 104.

Luzula luzuloides from Eigg

Seth, Joanna, Caroline and I have been surveying Portree for the Urban Flora of Scotland project. Seth has found a patch of Ligustrum vulgare (Wild Privet) which has either been missed before or overlooked as Ligustrum ovalifolium (Garden Privet), the commoner of the two on Skye.

Frustratingly, the Philadelphus he found last autumn is not flowering this year, presumably because it is shaded. It is luxuriant enough, just not flowering. I may have to grow some on.

Joanna has re-found the Vicia orobus (Wood Bitter-vetch) in NG25, last recorded in 1958 but now with a precise grid reference.

Vicia orobus at Coral Beach Image: J Walmisley

I have been finding new fungi on various plants:

July has been good for moths. I had 44 in the trap about a week ago and then on Sunday I moved it about 200m to a spot with various trees, Bog Myrtle, Bell Heather, Purple Moor-grass etc. and caught over 100. They have taken a lot of sorting out but I have had lots of generous help from various folks. New to my West Suisnish list of adult moths:

Barred RedHylaea fasciaria
Scalloped OakCrocallis elinguaria
Dark Pine Knot-hornDioryctria abietellaR
Mountain PearlUdea uliginosalisR
Inlaid Grass-veneerCrambus pascuella
Satin Grass-veneerCrambus perlellaR
Straw DotRivula sericealis
Welsh WaveVenusia cambrica
Marsh Oblique-barredHypenodes humidalisR
Species in green are micro-moths. Species marked “R” have few records in VC104

Two Days in July

July 8, 2021

On Tuesday I visited Phil at Drumfearn who is managing his croft for wildlife. He has changed areas of Molinia into havens for a large variety of plants, invertebrates, birds and other vertebrates. This has been achieved largely by natural regeneration plus native tree and shrub planting from locally-sourced material.

There were lots of Greater Butterfly-orchids (Platanthera chlorantha) and I saw my first Golden-ringed Dragonfly (Cordulegaster boltonii) of the year. He showed me where Galeopsis speciosa (Large-flowered Hemp-nettle) had emerged from disturbed ground a few years back and there were quite a few specimens of Malva moschata (Musk-mallow), both pretty rare on Skye.

Afterwards, I walked the southern shore of Loch Eishort from Drumfearn to where the Abhainn Ceann Loch Eiseoirt feeds the loch in the east. Much of this is in a tetrad (NG61T) that did not get well covered in the Atlas 2020 recording but it is quite rich botanically and I increased the vascular plant taxon count from 131 to 184. I found this bug, which is not rare but was new to me:

Neolygus contaminatus

Then yesterday, half a dozen of us went to inspect Ophioglossum azoricum (Small Adder’s-tongue) on Raasay. The main site we visited had over 1000 plants and another known site still had about 10 – not too different from when I last checked these two sites in 2008. Nick and Seth each discovered new sites not far away and are now inspired to look for them on Skye. This was a particularly large specimen:

Ophioglossum azoricum (Small Adder’s-tongue)

We also found two different Plume Moths, Thyme Plume and Twin-spot Plume, Satyr Pug and a micromoth that is Bryotropha sp., a Gelechid. Later: B. boreella (Mountain Groundling) Not the greatest moth pictures, but for the record:

Early July

July 4, 2021

I have made a start in Portree on recording for the Urban Flora of Scotland project. Last week I surveyed one of the five 1 km squares that Portree spreads into. In the process I made a number of new tetrad records, so that cheered me up when I was wondering whether daisies were frequent or occasional. One was Petrosedum (previously Sedum) forsterianum (Rock Stonecrop) growing on top of a cemetery wall:

Petrosedum forsterianum

whilst others included Blysmus rufus (Saltmarsh Flat-sedge) and Puccinellia maritima (Common Saltmarsh-grass) on the shore below houses.

Away from the urban fringe I went looking for leaf mines on Sea Aster (Tripolium pannonicum, these days) hoping for the moth Bucculatrix maritima which would be new to VC104. Instead, I found fly mines which are made by Chromatomyia asteris – also new to the vice-county.

I have found a couple of small but colourful bugs on nettles in the past few days, Eupteryx urticae and Eupteryx aurata, the former having very few records this far north, but I suspect it is seriously under-recorded.

Near home I swept a small moth off a stand of Carex remota (Remote Sedge). It is an elachistid, perhaps Elachista humilis, which would be new to VC104. There is a single plant of Deschampsia cespitosa (Tufted Hair-grass) amongst the sedge, which is good as this is the food plant for E. humilis.

Elachista humilis maybe

It had to be there

June 27, 2021

Triglochin palustris (Marsh Arrowgrass) is a fairly common plant locally, found in many stretches of wet ground. By the end of recording for Atlas 2020 the only 10 km square from which there were no recent records was NG42 in the centre of Skye. NG42 is one of only two hectads in the vice-county with >99% land/freshwater. A couple of pre-2000 records were too vague to refind, the grid references being just “NG42”, which covers nearly 100 km2. Towards the end of the Atlas recording, I was actively looking for it when in that area.

Triglochin palustris

Yesterday, with no such thoughts in mind, I fell over a single plant in Coire na Creiche – see image on left.

Otherwise, the highlights were a couple of micromoths – not uncommon, but nice to add to the list of of ones I have a chance of recognising another time.

Late June

June 25, 2021

By far the most exciting find was by Lynn, who has dicovered a new site for Arabis alpina in a new tetrad (the third ever) and about 1.5 km from the nearest previously known site.

Arabis alpina at its new station

In the moth arena I have successfully reared another Argyroploce arbutella (Bearberry Marble) this time from Skye rather than Raasay, added Nemapogon cloacella (Cork Moth) to my home list and today found Apotomis sororculana (Narrow-winged Marble) on Raasay, only the second or third VC104 record.

Early June

June 9, 2021

A trip up Beinn Edra with Neil, Seth and two of his friends allowed us to show them, and refresh records for, Epilobium alsinifolium (Chickweed Willowherb), Gnaphalium supinum (Dwarf Cudweed), Juncus triglumis (Three-flowered Rush), Koenigia islandica (Iceland-purslane), Salix herbacea (Dwarf Willow) and Sibbaldia procumbens (Sibbaldia).

Steve has been productive in the Broadford area with the first vice-county record of Buddleja globosa (Orange-ball-tree) and the second for Ornithogalum umbellatum (Star-of-Bethlehem), while Seth has the third VC record for Viola x wittrockiana (Garden Pansy).

Neil, Debbie and I went to investigate the clumping of leaves on Acer platanoides (Norway Maple) in a garden at Dunan, but this was inconclusive, so we walked a stretch of the Broadford River. We found second VC records for Euphorbia griffithii (Griffith’s Spurge) and Rodgersia podophylla (Rodgersia). The previous records for both are near Armadale Castle and both are grown within those grounds. There are lots of garden escapes/throw-outs/planted species between the Broadford River and the road including at least one I must go back for when it is in flower.

Back in April I collected a sample of Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry) where some leaves had been spun together and a few days ago I discovered that I have successfully reared Argyroploce arbutella (Bearberry Marble). The only previous record in the vice-county was from 1937, which I dug out of the literature a couple of years ago and sent to the County Moth Recorder. Like this one, that was from Raasay, though over 9 km away to the south.

I also have a determination for a Long-horn Moth from the garden in May: Nematopogon schwarziellus (Sandy Long-horn), a first for the vice-county. The arrow shows the pale tornal spot typical of schwarziellus.

Nematopogon schwarziellus (Sandy Long-horn)
Nematopogon schwarziellus (Sandy Long-horn)

As ever, I am grateful to Nigel Richards for identifying micro-moths for me.

Actually, Make that Six

June 2, 2021

I had another look at images of this moth from the same period as those shown in my last post:

Udea decrepitalis

I realised it looked like Udea decrepitalis (Scotch Pearl) and this was confirmed by Mark Young. Another local rarity!