Nature Notes from Skye
(and occasionally other places)
Sat 12 Jun 2004
Suddenly all the tall herbs have shot up, Foxgloves, Figwort, Fireweed, creating wonderful jungles wherever there is no grazing. The wild roses are out too...
It was hard to find flowers that weren't weather-beaten on the roses, but on the left is a newly opened Northern Downy Rose, its leaves totally non-downy as is often the case here. It may have a few genes from elsewhere but has most of the characters of Northern Downy. The Dog Rose on the right was even harder to find a respectable flower on, but the one in the picture makes up for being tatty by having 6 petals instead of the usual 5.
Up on the moorland the Common Bog-cotton is now waving merrily in the wind and turning areas of bog white from a distance. Less common is the purple-flowered subspecies "pulchella" of the Early Marsh Orchid. On 8 June we had a picture of the pink-flowered subspecies "incarnata", which is the most frequent form in this part of the world. (but see note on 21 June as to the accuracy of that id)
We had a picture of the beautiful Copse Snail, Arianta arbustorum, recently, but it was one that was hiding in its shell. Today's was out for a walk. I didn't know until recently that there were any large land snails apart from the two Banded Snails and the Garden Snail, and am pleased to have discovered this one. Similarly coloured, but much smaller, is this fly on the trunk of an Aspen.
On the left, our second Meadowsweet gall of the season, totally different from the one on 30 May. This one is the young stage of the larval chambers of the fly Dasineura ulmaria. The reason I include so many galls is simply that I have a very good book for identifying them (British Plant Galls, Aidgap series) The distorted Angelica leaf on the right turned out not to be a gall. The individual leaflets were folded in half with webbing of the sort made by caterpillars or spiders, and then the folded leaflets were themselves webbed together. There was something that looked like black caterpillar droppings inside, but no living creatures. I suspect that eggs of some insect were in there originally and that they have all hatched out. These "nests" were common on Angelica leaves in the area where I was today. On the unaffected Angelica leaf is a bit of "Cuckoo spit" which is a protective froth made by the larva of the Common Froghopper, Philaenus spumarius.