Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Skye - Overdue Update

Been a wee while, 53 days apparently! Anyway...

As I mentioned on my blog at the start of this year, one big worry I had was spending too much time outside of my square - and that's exactly what has happened lately. So instead of slamming through the woods and shoreline with a net in each hand, I've been gallavanting around Skye seeing all kinds of amazing plants and have seriously neglected the patch. But I've still seen stuff, obviously!

Birds - only four additions, one being an injured owl in a mate's garden. He popped it in a box and called me for help, I opened the box fully expecting to see a Tawny and came face to face with the gleaming yellow eyes of a very angry Short-eared Owl!!!! The vet has set its broken wing and the prognosis is good. Dunlin, Kestrel and Greylag Geese were the remainder, all good birds locally.

Plants - 26 rather eclectic additions including Lesser Burdock, Garden Candytuft (new for VC), Apple Mint, Confused Michaelmas Daisy, Potato, Marsh Cudweed, Corn Spurrey, Horse Radish (also new for VC), Field Gentian and Lady-fern. (Pete, Ali and Tim - the small pale blue flower naturalising throughout the raised lawn downslope of the hotel is Blue Star Creeper  Pratia pedunculata).

Garden Candytuft with small, furry bee thing - pure class...
Purple Viper's Bugloss - a garden chuck out that's now seeding away quite merrily
White Campion - this is actually a proper decent plant up here!
Inverts - totally dominated by moths at the light trap, though I've managed a handful of flies plus various leafminers (dipteran, hymenopteran and lepidopterous) in the woods. Also a single beetle (whoop!), a wasp, a couple of spiders, a harvestman, a hopper and four butterflies. So yeah - not exactly pushing the boat out! 

Dotted Carpet - a very damn fine moth (and a lifer!)
Potamophylax cingulatus - luckily a male so I only had to check the unequalness of the claspery thingy bits
Phytomyza alnivora mine in Alder (also available with optional larva)
Manchester Treble Bar - this August my garden had two thirds of all Skye records - ever! 
Small Autumnal Moth - several of these in the trap one morning, yet another lifer for me
Fungi - the last couple of Skye Nature Group trips I've attended were fungus forays and they were pretty good. But my local woods are seemingly rather poor, it's a bit of an effort to find anything apart from some half-decent patches of The Deceiver. I've added another dozen species including one that I've seen before but had missed off my PSL

Brown Birch Bolete beneath Downy Birch
The Deceiver - lots of these, at least
Erysiphe alphitoides on a planted oak sapling
Entomophthora muscae on a not-very-well blowfly
Orange Peel Fungus - growing beneath a Wych Elm in the hotel grounds
Slime - just one addition, the gloriously named Dog's Vomit Slime Mould

All of which puts me on 1135 species, which is 81% of the way towards Andy's 2013 total of 1407 species and 84% towards my personal target of 1350 species. It also means that Tim has recorded an entire third more species than I have, even though I've already whupped my 2017 year end tally. That bloke puts us all to shame, lol. 

My aim is to reach 1200 species by end of September, which could be a hard target seeing as I'm heading down to England sometime later this month. Not sure when yet, but those 65 additions need to fall quickly. Happily, I cut my hand open last night and it's still a bit throbbo-throbbo, so to speak, so that won't affect my net-swiping skillz in the slightest....

Nurse Kathryn and her butterfly stitches to the rescue, bless her :) 


  1. Some very nice bits and bobs, and everybody needs to get out of their square once in a while! I've had a large influx of Greylags here interestingly. Sadly I now feel like I ought to unagg the Michaelmas daisies. Can I be arsed with that? Hmmm. Anyway. Vascular Plants +1 - cheers :) (I do still intend to send a list from Skye in case something got missed. I still have at least one pinned specimen too)

    1. The mass of Aster all along the top of the shore here is definitely 'Confused' (the BSBI recorder came down to check something and confirmed the ID whilst still on site) so yeah, unagg away! :)

  2. Good stuff Seth. Have you counted Pratia pedunculata on your list? It doesn't seem to be listed on NBN as a naturalised plant, but I'll count it if you have!

    1. Well I was the only one out of the four of us who felt a bit iffy counting it as tickable, so yeah go for it! Ignore the NBN (apparently they are FIVE YEARS behind on plant data inputting!!!) and check the BSBI's map here -

  3. Good update and thanks for the info about the Blue Star Creeper. Shame though about the blow fly!

    1. Shame about the other infected blowflies all around it too. This was at a bird carcass (think a Sparrowhawk took out one of the local Rock Doves) and I counted six flies 'spread and dead' though none as heavily furred up as the one in the pic. Interestingly, they were all upright on leaf litter/feathers rather than upside down on the underside of a leaf as is the norm. It's usually hoverflies and Bibionids that get attacked here, not blowflies. Weird.