Nature Notes from Skye
(and occasionally other places)

Wed 19 Jan 2005

Spider in bath   Rabdophaga rosaria

No spiders outdoors at this time of year, but found this one in the bath.

Fri 21 Jan 2005

At last a bit of sunshine.  The only leaves still on the trees are those affected by the Willow Cabbage Gall Midge, Rabdophaga cinerearum (= R rosaria).  This causes the shoot tip to stop growing so that the leaves are bunched together, and they remain that way all winter.  It is a common sight on Eared, Grey and Goat Willows.

Ochrolechia parella   Peltigera horizontalis

Two lichens from an old Elm tree.  On the left, the Perelle, Ochrolechia parella, which used to be collected to make a purple dye, and on the right the Horizontal Dog Lichen, Peltigera horizontalis.

Sat 22 Jan 2005

A beautiful sunny day, after overnight frost.  Thought I'd get a bit of exercise after the long layoff by climbing Ben Tianavaig.

Parmelia saxatilis   Parmelia exasperata

Here are a couple of very knobbly lichens.  On the left is Parmelia saxatilis, another lichen that used to be collected for dyeing wool.  This species is often known as Crotal, though actually Crotal is the Gaelic word for lichen in general, and several kinds were used.  This is a very common lichen on rocks and trees, but its fruit-bodies are not all that common.  They are in the top right of the picture, and start off orange before turning dark brown.  The right-hand picture shows Parmelia exasperata, which grows on twigs.  It was on one of the topmost twigs of a Birch which had been blown down by the recent storm.  Like the previous species, the rims of the fruit-bodies and most of the thallus are covered with tubercles, but these apparently have some kind of aerating function, whereas in P saxatilis their function is reproductive, as they can grow into new plants when rubbed off.

Degelia plumbea   Degelia plumbea

Rather more neat and tidy is this rosette of Degelia plumbea (= Parmeliella plumbea).  The close-up on the right shows the red-brown fruit-bodies.

Aegithalos caudatus   Aegithalos caudatus

While taking the lichen pics a small group of Long-tailed Tits came zitting through the trees, and came much closer to me than I could have got to them if I'd been the one who had to move.  But they never keep still so photography is impossible and all I could do was focus the camera on a bit of ground at a suitable distance and then just point and shoot whenever a bird stood still for a moment, hoping I'd have the luck to get something in focus.  As it turned out I didn't do very well, but what the heck, the pictures go in anyway.  Any excuse to show a bit of blue sky, it's been a long time since we had any!

Well, time to leave the trees and the lichens alone and head off up the hill...

Sphagnum capillifolium   Unknown tracks in snow

Raspberries and sugar?  No, Sphagnum and frost.  (In the following three pictures the snow is shown darker so as to make the tracks visible.)  Not far below the summit I found these footprints.  Does anyone know what they are?  It's hard to measure them precisely but their width (i.e. vertically in the picture) is about 18 mm.  That is the base of the "triangle", beyond which the imprint becomes too vague to make out.  The animal must have gone back on its tracks since they pointed in both directions, as the picture shows.

Footprints of Corvus cornix   Bird tracks - snipe?

In the same area were these bird footprints.  The ones on the left are Hooded Crow.  I think the ones on the right may be Snipe.

Ben Tianavaig summit

Ben Tianavaig summit, with the Storr in the distance

Shadow of Ben Tianavaig

The shadow of Ben Tianavaig, pointing to the tip of Raasay



All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer