Posts Tagged ‘Sea Creatures’

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.


Low Water

March 3, 2021

We have had some of the lowest tides of the year in the past few days, exposing the kelp beds in the bay by the house. Monday was the perfect day for exploring this habitat – the lowest tide of this period, not a cloud in the sky and not even a breeze. And all well before the midge season starts. The Eider were making their calls of faint astonishment and the Herring Gulls wanted to beat me to the animal life with intentions less pacific than mine.

Netted Dog Whelks had left tracks in the sand and Banded Chinks have laid egg rings all over the kelp.

Banded Chink: Adult and Egg Rings
Netted Dog Whelk

There was the usual array of starfish (Bloody Henry, Common, Spiny) though no Seven-armed which seem to be seasonal, appearing later in the year, and large numbers of Edible Sea Urchins – always worth another image!

Edible Sea Urchin

There were various crabs, hermit, spider and others, anemones and fish. I only caught one which appears to be a Five-bearded Rockling.

Five-bearded Rockling

There was a fair bit of this seaweed, which Seth suggests may be Desmarestia aculeata. An expert opinion is awaited. Later: confirmed.

Desmarestia aculeata?

James’ Videos

December 7, 2020

James Merryweather posts videos on YouTube under the AuchtertyreAcademy imprint that may be of interest e.g.

BLUEBELL deconstructing the English Jacinth. Part 1: Identity
BLUEBELL deconstructing the English Jacinth. Part 2: Life History
BRAINWAVE OR PIPEDREAM? will tree planting save us from climate change?
GORSE: NURSERY FOR WOODLAND an ecological process vs destructive management
IS IT A FERN? (part1)
IS IT A FERN? (part 2) Now I can tell that’s not a fern, but . . .


September 20, 2020

I was away for a couple of weeks, but here are a few items from before or after, mostly seen with Seth and/or Neil.

Acleris emargana Notch-winged Tortrix

Galls caused by the sawfly Euura venusta on Salix caprea (Goat Willow)

This Grey Dagger larva attached itself to me in the garden and then fell off onto the carpet. I took its picture before escorting it out again:

Grey Dagger larva

A seashore excursion to see Neil’s extensive Eelgrass (Zostera marina) meadows in the sea at Harlosh sadly did not lead to any seahorse sightings. (There are records this far north, but not from Skye.)

Zostera marina at Harlosh

It was the equinoctial tide and we found many interesting critters such as a Stalked Jellyfish Calvadosia campanulata, a Tube Anemone Cerianthus lloydii, Risso’s Crab (Xantho pilipes), Star Ascidian (Botryllus schlosseri) and the Small Brittlestar (Amphipholis squamata).

Risso’s Crab

Spar Cave and Surrounds

August 20, 2020

Ludicrously, I had never been to Spar Cave near Glasnakille on Skye – until last Tuesday. It is well worth a visit, but one needs to be prepared for a steep climb down, slippery rocks on the shore and total darkness in the extensive cave.

Spar Cave

Spar Cave

Unsurprisingly, there was no plant life apart from around the entrance. Hopes of finding the gametophyte of Trichomanes speciosum (Killarney Fern) remained unrealised even though it is known in a couple of sites not far away. Animal life was also thin on the ground but a few fungi may turn out to be of interest.

Just outside there were moth pupae on Asplenium scolopendrium (Hart’s-tongue) which Seth is checking whether the culprit is Psychoides filicivora or P. verhuella. (Later: Confirmed as P. filicivora from larval charcaters.)

Psychoides pupa

Down on the shore there was Devonshire cup-coral (Caryophyllia smithii)

Devonshire cup-coral Caryophyllia smithii

Away from the shore we found a patch of Calamagrostis epigejos (Wood Small-reed) together with Agrimonia procera (Fragrant Agrimony) and later on the roadside there was Linaria repens (Pale or Striped Toadflax) – only the third site in the vice-county. It has been known in Portree for getting on for 50 years and there is a single 1978 record from Kyleakin.

Linaria repens (Pale or StripedToadflax)


March 22, 2019

It being the time for equinoctal tides, I went to Eyre here on Raasay for another attempt to find the source of Zostera marina (Eelgrass) that washes up there. As last year, I failed. I am beginning to think the pieces washed up may come from Skye or Scalpay across the water. It would probably be better to search at the autumn equinox when the plants would be bigger – but I am not usually here at that time of year.

There were, of course, lots of these:

Edible Sea Urchins

Edible Sea Urchins

and these:


Seven-armed starfish

Seven always seems an odd number of limbs and it is, I think, pretty unusual.

Culnacnoc and Port Earlish

May 18, 2018

Skye Nature Group went rock-pooling yesterday at Port Earlish and beforehand I took the opportunity for a little botany in the adjacent area. I re-found Crepis capillaris (Smooth Hawk’s-beard) and Veronica arvensis (Wall Speedwell) in NG56 – firsts since before 2000 and added Rosa canina (Dog-rose), Rosa spinosissima (Burnet Rose), Aegopodium podagraria (Ground-elder) and Geranium macrorrhizum (Rock Crane’s-bill) to the NG56 list.

I am left wondering how this large block comes to be on the top of a very tall sea stack:

The SNG rock-pooling will be recorded elsewhere but here are a few images:

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The Shore

March 4, 2018

Yesterday Skye Nature Group went to Broadford Bay at low tide. We found lots of nice things such as the following – thanks to Seth Gibson for the images (see his blog of the event here):

and the Eelgrass (Zostera marina) was looking good:

Zostera marina LR

So today I went to Eyre on Raasay at low water to see if I could find the source of Zostera wash-ups there. I found a nice piece with root (apologies for image quality):


Unfortunately, it was not attached to the substrate. Today the tide was not as low as yesterday and there was quite a strong onshore wind driving the tide higher and making waves that beat wellies. I suspect that if I had gone yesterday and been able to wade a bit further out I would have found the source.

Anyway there were other things like several seven-armed starfish (Luidia ciliaris), something we didn’t see yesterday:

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A Spring Weekend on Skye

April 3, 2017

With other reasons to be on Skye, I took opportunities for a couple of modest excursions, one at Aird of Sleat and one along the north bank of Loch Sligachan from Peinnachorrain on Braes.

Spring seems to have come early on Skye this year at least at sea level. Not too surprising given the mild winter and recent warm days.

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The north side of Loch Sligachan had hazel with Glue Fungus (Hymenochaete corrugata) gluing sticks at odd angles to a Hazel::

Glue fungus

There was a great deal of Cotoneaster simonsii (Himalayan Cotoneaster):

Cotoneaster simonsii

The shore had several Horse Mussel shells and above the shore were many whelks, clearly a favoured food of local birds.  Both of these need further work to determine exactly.

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Egg Rings

March 22, 2016

Out on the shore recently there have been lots of small yellow tori on the kelp. George Brown tells me that they are the egg circles of the beautiful snail Lacuna vincta (Banded Chink Shell) and sent me this image of parents and eggs (plus one Gibbula cineraria (Grey Top Shell)).

DSC_0534 LR

Lacuna vincta – adults and eggs               Photo: G. Brown