Thursday, February 16, 2017

Skye - A Promise of Spring

Just a quick whizz out and about today. Spent a short while on the beach and found a couple of extra bits - Chainweed Catenella caespitosa fringing the base of a large rock near the high water mark, growing beneath Serrated Wrack just like it says in the book. Also managed some better pics of the marine lichen Verrucaria mucosa, these showing a nice olive colouration

A far better background than yesterday's image!
And although this next image will make your eyes swim, this was the best I could manage of the tiny Lichina confinis, one I've not seen before. Very similar to Lichina pygmaea but found below the mid-water mark as opposed to the upper levels. Still seems weird to me that we have marine lichens, I always assumed they'd die if immersed in saltwater!

Too glaring with flash, too dull without...grey lichen on a grey rock taken on a grey day!
This also was new to me, but definitely dead and hence not countable (despite what this article says!) This is Snail Fur Hydractinia echinata, an encrusting hydrozoan that settles on whelk shells inhabited by hermit crabs. Can't wait to find both living animals!

Dead colony of Snail Fur Hyrdactinia echinata on washed-up whelk shell
Back in the woods I had an explore at the back of a car park and found a flourishing patch of variegated Yellow Archangel, presumably originating from garden throw-out material

Should look spectacular when in flower
The woodland floor is covered in thousands of Ground-elder seedlings, Common Nettles are also starting to push through. The stream has had a sudden flush of life, this was just bare mud last week!

Marsh Marigold clumps. I love these plants - so good for insects!
Last thing of note was Ramularia gei, a microfungus that infects the living leaves of Wood Avens. The purple border isn't always present but it shows well here. This has been visible all through the winter, I've just kept missing it! 

Ramularia gei - a new one for me
333 - Catenella caespitosa (marine alga)
334 - Lichina confinis (lichen) - Lifer
335 - Yellow Archangel (plant)
336 - Common Nettle (plant)
337 - Marsh Marigold (plant)
338 - Ground Elder (plant)
339 - Common Scurvygrass (plant)
340 - Ramularia gei (microfungus) - Lifer

So that's the first third of the 1000 species under the belt. Should go a bit slower for the next month or so before the inverts burst into action - then it'll all go mental for a few months! I'm well ahead of my 2013 tally for the 7th week of the year. In 2013 I reached 300 species on 26th February and 400 on 17th April. Hopefully I'll hit 400 before March is out this year.

EDIT: 341 - Pied Wagtail (bird) on 17th Feb.

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