Nature Notes from Skye
(and occasionally other places)

Sun 15 Feb 2004

Sunny in the morning and much warmer than yesterday.  Clouded over in the afternoon but remained dry.

Small birds very active in the trees around Portree, including Chaffinch in full song.

Two pictures today.  The Sea Campion grows among coastal rocks.  This is last year's calyx, with its 20 ribs and 5 teeth, which has somehow survived the winter.  Fresh leaves can be seen to the left.

Silene uniflora   Unknown fly

Few insects around so far.  The most frequent are flies like this one (above right) which looks like the kind that comes into houses.  Here it's trying to get into my lunch.

Tue 17 Feb 2004

Was in Inverness, weather was dull.  At this time of year Goosanders come quite close to the shore of the River Ness.  Took these two very poor pictures but it shows how close you can get - pictures would have been excellent if the sun had been out.  Male on left, female on right, about to dive.

Mergus merganser male   Mergus merganser female

Wed 18 Feb 2004

The vegetation definitely seems less advanced than this time last year.  In many other parts of the country this year is ahead of last year, owing to the mild weather.  We too have had mild weather since Christmas, but it has been very cloudy with hardly any sun, until last weekend.  I wonder if plants judge the time of year not only by temperature but by day-length, and are fooled into thinking it's earlier in the year than it is by the effect of grey skies on apparent day-length.  Most other parts of the country have had some bright days to put the plants' internal calendars right.


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