Posts Tagged ‘Plants’


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.


Utricularia stygia (Nordic Bladderwort)

There were good insects too:

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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.


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.


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).


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:


Six-spot Burnet

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


Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary

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


Black Snipefly probably

and Phragmidium rosa-pimpinellifoliae on Rosa spinosissima:


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.


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).

Garden Veronica

June 5, 2018

Steve has found a large speedwell growing by the roadside in Broadford:

(Top two photos S. Terry, bottom photo SJB.)

We have decided it is the hybrid rather than pure Veronica longifolia (Garden Speedwell) as it is really quite hairy. First record for Scotland – though far from established yet being a single plant near other plants of garden origin like Lysimachia punctata (Dotted Loosestrife).


Gleb Dibidal, Skye

June 3, 2018

Yesterday was a long haul – away on the 0755 ferry, back on the 2100 and, apart from driving to and from Ramasaig and a bit of time at Sconser waiting for the late ferry, walking all the time. But a lot of fun was had and a lot of useful record made.

I had two main objectives, firstly to update records for NG13 and secondly to improve the record counts of 8 and 10 for tetrads NG23E and NG24A, all 18 being down to Nick whilst bryologising in 2015.

Having made over 600 plant records in total, I could go on at some length.  However, here are a few highlights. Carex paniculata (Greater Tussock-sedge) in NG13 was recorded once before, by a BSBI field meeting in 1958.


Carex paniculata (Greater Tussock-sedge)

Carlina vulgaris (Carline Thistle) was new to NG13


Carlina vulgaris (Carline Thistle)

The mouth of the Dibidal River is lovely:

The gorge is botanically rich with e.g. Rubus saxatilis (Stone Bramble) and Viburnum opulus (Guelder-rose); there is a large patch of Blysmus rufus (Saltmarsh Flat-sedge) and a steeply sloping “grassy” bank containing saltmarsh/coastal rock plants like Carex distans (Distant Sedge), Glaux maritima (Sea-milkwort), Juncus gerardii (Saltmarsh Rush) and Plantago coronopus (Buck’s-horn Plantain).

Lots of insect interest too e.g. Tipula maxima. I was going to say this appears to be the first for Skye but Seth had two in his moth-trap the same day which I suspect he opened a few hours earlier than I found this one.


Tipula maxima

I saw two dragonfly and three damselfly species plus a variety of moths and butterflies.


Scotch Argus Larva      (Thanks Seth for i.d.)



Edinbane Wind Farm Again

June 1, 2018

Four years ago I went to the Edinbane Wind Farm area and found what turned out to be Senecio inaequidens (Narrow-leaved Ragwort). On Wednesday I went into another part of the wind farm and found some more in a different tetrad, NG61N. This tetrad had only three earlier records of which I re-found two and upped the total against all odds to nearly 100 taxa. Against all odds because this is mostly pretty tedious moorland and a large area had been burned quite recently. The wind farm road added a few ruderal species.

Being a glutton for punishment, instead of walking to the tetrad up the wind farm track from Edinbane, I followed the Abhainn Choishleadar which allowed me to add a few taxa to two other tetrads.

This hoverfly feeding on Cardamine pratensis (Cuckooflower/Lady’s-smock) is Sericomyia silentis, not rare but the first of the year for Murdo as well as for me:


Sericomyia silentis

Lonicera nitida and Insects

May 26, 2018

The Lonicera nitida (Wilson’s Honeysuckle) at Dunvegan is now in flower:


Lonicera nitida (Wilson’s Honeysuckle)

At home I have spoilt my record of one per year by finding another two-banded longhorn beetle (Rhagium bifasciatum) this morning. I am also getting a lot of this cranefly, Tipula vittata, which was thought to be scarce on the west but seven of the 25 crane flies I have caught this year are this.

Tipula 180525

Tipula vittata

A Day of Surprises

May 25, 2018

John told me recently that there was now a (vehicle-grade) track all the way though Waternish Forest so today I used this to walk to NG35D, a tetrad with no records that before the track was built looked like a serious matter to get into. It is still a fair walk but the track goes right through the tetrad.

Unsurprisingly the new track is something of a botanical desert but once onto the adjacent crags and along the burns I managed a total of 117 taxa. The best thing in the target area was Orthilia secunda (Serrated Wintergreen):


Orthilia secunda (Serrated Wintergreen)

Elsewhere along the route I encountered several surprising plants:

The first Skye record for Erodium cicutarium (Common Stork’s-bill) since 1988. There were seven plants by the track and this was also the only spot I saw Sedum anglicum (English Stonecrop) making me think this is probably natural colonisation as also present were Aira praecox (Early Hair-grass) and Sagina procumbens (Procumbent Pearlwort), the whole assemblage being similar to coastal habitats where I might have expected to find the Erodium.


Erodium cicutarium (Common Stork’s-bill)


Erodium cicutarium site

Also by the track was this:


I can only think it is Epipactis helleborine (Broad-leaved Helleborine), a very rare plant locally. I would be grateful for any other ideas (See comments below) but will probably have to go back later in the year. It is a heck of a long way for one plant that may have been eaten by deer or flattened by a forestry lorry….

And there was this Acaena:


Acaena sp.

The upper leaf surfaces are devoid of hairs leading one to Acaena inermis (Spineless Acaena), the one that is quite widespread on Raasay and slowly moving onto Skye BUT the distal leaflets are longer than broad leading one more into Acaena anserinifolia (Bronze Pirri-pirri-bur), the one Seth found at Uig. I shall have to go back later. It is only May and my Go Back And Check list is getting longer and longer……

In passing I did some good to tetrad NG25Y, improving the taxon count from 78 to 120 and also mad records in passing in NG25T, U and Z which I have yet to process.

This still leaves the nearby NG35E with no records, but it is only 6.3% land whereas NG35D is 69.2 % and was taxon with zero records with the largest land area. That accolade now falls on NG41T with 48.1% land.