Nature Notes from Skye
(and occasionally other places)
Wed 8 Sep 2004
Another sunny day, but much more windy than of late.
This striking lichen (OK, so I can't make it look striking in the photo) is called Rock Tripe, and was on a rock bordering a freshwater loch. The whitish thalli are attached to the rock at a single point, and curve upwards at their edges, which are a mass of black granules.
This Water Scorpion was making its way to the loch edge to lie in wait for some prey. I noticed that when it walks it uses its pincers as well as the other two pairs of legs, but when it swims it only uses the back two pairs of legs.
The Many-stemmed Spike-rush is a common plant of Skye lochs. It sometimes produces viviparous flowerheads. This is the case with the stem on the left, which has bent down into the water and has young shoots coming from the head.
Away from the loch now and on to somewhere more sheltered where there might be some insects about. First up is this hoverfly on the right, Cheilosia illustrata, shown on a Birch leaf but was also visiting Hogweed flowers.
I rather like the picture on the left. It shows Devil's-bit Scabious complete with scary insect and gothic background. The same hoverfly is in the right-hand picture, showing off its red legs, on Knapweed.
There are very few Oaks in my part of Skye, and those that there are seem to all be young ones, so they've not had much chance to acquire the usual plethora of parasites. But the cynipid wasp Andricus curvator had managed to sniff this one out and create its glassy grey leaf galls.
On the right is a rolled leaf-tip on a Grey Willow tree. It had several of these, all similar, with the rolled bit red and the rest of the blade green. It looks to me as if there is some growth distortion, and the rolled bit is much firmer than the rest of the leaf, but I can't find it in the gall book so I guess it isn't a gall. I was too late to catch the occupants, the rolls were empty.
After studying all these small and similar-looking insects like hoverflies it is dazzling to see something as flamboyant as a Red Admiral flutter into view. They've been about for a week or two now but this was the first one that was prepared to pose for its photo - and that only after leading me a merry dance. It's on Knapweed, the flower is just visible behind its head.
The Fly Agaric was taken the next day, 9 Sept. I mean the photo was taken, not the mushroom...
On 10 Sep saw my first live Hedgehog in the Portree area, previously had only seen live ones in Sleat and Uig. It was far too dark to take a picture. I tried using flash but the results were useless.
12 Sep - another Hedgehog (or the same one) about 100 yards away from where the other one was. Maybe they're coming out earlier in the evening than usual to fatten up for hibernation.
Tue 14 Sep 2004
A good proportion of the UK web pages with an ichneumon picture say "Possibly Amblyteles armatorius" and I am going to do the same. In the absence of a book that describes them all one can't be sure. I can't be sure of the identify of this tiered fungus growing on an old Lime tree stump either, but I think it may well be the Sheathed Woodtuft, Galerina (= Kuehneromyces) mutabilis.
All photos and other content copyright © Carl Farmer