Nature Notes from Skye
(and occasionally other places)
Wed 19 Jan 2005
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.
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.
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.
Rather more neat and tidy is this rosette of Degelia plumbea (=
Parmeliella plumbea). The close-up on the right shows the red-brown
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...
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.
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, with the Storr in the distance
The shadow of Ben Tianavaig, pointing to the tip of Raasay
All photos and other content copyright © Carl Farmer