Nature Notes from Skye
(and occasionally other places)
Wed 22 Sep 2004
After the storm...
Found this dead Fork-tailed Petrel in the Sconser Ferry car park. Was on my way to Dalavil for a Scottish Wildlife Trust walk, persuaded by the promise of slightly better weather, for the morning at least, though it was due to turn rainy again in the afternoon. This forecast proved correct. I think it was the lowest turnout I've ever seen for one of these walks, but we were soon finding items of interest. The above caterpillar looked at first glance like just another Northern Eggar, but it turned out to be the Fox Moth, a close relative. Like the Eggar and the Drinker, it overwinters as a caterpillar. I showed the very distinctive young caterpillar of this species on 1 Aug, but when it gets older it loses the yellow stripes and then looks as above; much harder to spot.
The living and dying Beech trees in Dalavil wood are home to many fungi. The bracket fungus on the left is Coriolus versicolor, or "Turkey Tails". On the right we have Helvella lacunosa, growing on a Beech root.
Most spectacular of all are these massive Hoof Fungi, Fomes fomentarius, which grow on decaying Beech trunks.
These Amethyst Deceivers were growing in Beech leaf litter. Among other fungi, a red Russula was particularly plentiful. After leaving the wood we went to look at an old Badger sett, dating from the early 1970s or before, as badgers were quite numerous in the area up to that time but then disappeared. Whether there are any badgers in Skye today is hotly debated. The vegetation covered the hole more than this, as you'd expect after 30 years, and was pushed back a bit prior to taking the photo.
This young newt was found in the entrance to the badger sett, where it probably intended to hibernate. We put it back, of course. We also found a dead Adder. There was not much bird life about, but a family of Stonechats was seen. It began to rain in earnest after the badger sett visit, so no more photos.
A new member for the Skye flora? - the Bristly Ox-tongue, first specimen ever recorded, shown to me by the finder and joint BSBI recorder Stephen Bungard in a layby on the way home. Just growing as a casual and won't really "count" if it soon disappears without leaving offspring, but if it does take hold and spread, well, you saw it here first. Leaves have scattered spiny pimples.
All photos and other content copyright © Carl Farmer