Nature Notes from Skye
(and occasionally other places)
Mon 8 Mar 2004
Sunny all day but decidedly chilly. Not much incentive temperature-wise for plants to put on any Spring growth, but at least with the cloudless skies they'll be aware that the day-length is getting well advanced.
In the woods the Bluebell shoots (left) are bursting through the leaf litter, and so are those of the Wood Anemone (right), which are not so easy to spot. These were in the Lisigarry woodland between the road and the shore, where there were several scruffy Celandine flowers, none of them fully open, and one Barren Strawberry flower that seemed to have had its petals chewed, perhaps by a sparrow.
Into the old churchyard next, to see what's growing in the wall. On the left, young growth of Cow Parsley, and on the right, the rootstock of Figwort. You can see the square brown stem of last year's growth arising from among the tubers.
Up onto the Lump now, and the Rooks are very noisily carrying sticks up to their nests in the pines. There are well over 100 of them living there, and every evening they circle over the area quite gracefully, but the rest of the time they are a raucous bunch.
At the bottom of the left-hand picture there is a rook with twigs in its beak, shown in close-up on the right. In the main right-hand picture two rooks watch from the top of a pine while another one whizzes past. I don't know if the white patch on the flying rook in the first picture is a trick of the light, but some of them do have areas of white feathering, while others are brownish with paler brown areas. There are many Jackdaws living among them as well.
On the left, the Ivy holds its fruits aloft. On the right, Ben Tianavaig through the pines.
The Great Woodrush is very abundant on the walk around the Lump, and here is a shoot with a young inflorescence which will later expand into an elegant waving panicle. The white hairs which are characteristic of Woodrush leaves can be seen. On the right, a Herring Gull surveys the world from the chimney tops. The grey winter streaking on the back of the head is long gone, and at last we have the weather to go with the bright new feathering. The bird is in at least its fourth year as it has no trace of immature plumage.
On to Scorrybreac now, and the various Dock species all retain some of last year's fruits, though they have shed a great many.
Deep into the wood now, and this is a Wood Mouse's hoard of Hazel nuts. There are both whole nuts and empty shells.
On the left below, an overwintering Foxglove rosette at the foot of a mossy boulder enjoys the sunshine, which reaches most of the woodland floor at this time of year while the trees are still bare. On the right - is this a gall? It's on Hazel, and is about 10 cm across, on a branch about 3 cm across. The picture was very difficult as the gall was in shadow, since only its underside was accessible to the camera, while the branches are in sun, and consequently the branches have to look far too pale in order for the gall to show any detail at all. It's a very warty knobbly thing. It could be just the way the tree deals with a "wound", but it seems a bit extreme for that. Later: Have had a suggestion that it may be a "canker".
Here are some more plants springing into life on the woodland floor. Top left, Woodruff and Bush Vetch. Top right, Primrose. Bottom left, Pignut. Bottom right, Wood Sorrel.
A bit late in the year for Scarlet Elf Cups, but these were still in prime condition. The two on the left had cramped each other's style somewhat.
In a clearing I discovered a group of Great Horsetail shoots, which make a nice backlit picture (left), and this strangely coloured leaf of Barren Strawberry (right)
Found another Drinker Moth caterpillar on moss. The previous one, on 14 Feb, was up in the hills, this one was at sea level.
There is no sign yet of leaf-buds opening on any wild trees or bushes, though a few willow catkin buds are beginning to show a bit of white. The Honeysuckle has been in leaf for weeks and is shown here climbing the trees to a height of about 4.5 metres.