Nature Notes from Skye
(and occasionally other places)

Sat 14 May 2005 Kinloch Woods

Pararge aegeria   Pararge aegeria

Speckled Wood butterflies are very numerous here.  The one in the first picture always insisted on settling with its wings closed and in the plane of the sun, as if it wanted to get a minimum of sunlight on its wings.  The second one, by contrast, exposed its wings fully to the sun every time it landed.  It is a female, but the majority of both sexes had the same preference.  I also saw one Green Hairstreak and several Green-veined Whites.

Anthoxanthum odoratum   Carex pilulifera

The first grass to flower is the Sweet Vernal Grass whose pollen-loaded spikes are abundant everywhere just now.  The Pill Sedge on the right is first sedge I've found in fruit this year.

Pinguicula vulgaris   Stellaria holostea

On a trackside bank overhung with heather the Common Butterwort stands ready to welcome insects to its leaves and flowers alike, while under the trees a patch of Greater Stitchwort makes space for itself among the Bluebell cover.

Polygala vulgaris and Lotus corniculatus   Bird's egg on path

Common Milkwort and Birdsfoot Trefoil are often found together on compacted gravelly ground such as this.  Here the Milkwort is in one of its many colour varieties rather than the standard blue, and the Trefoil is still red in bud with only a hint of the yellow to come.

The bird's egg, which I think is that of a Song Thrush, was in the middle of a broad track.  It was unbroken, and stuck to the ground by faeces.  Not sure how it could have ended up there.  Later: Gill Smith suggests that it was "laid" by a bird which was surprised by a predator, as part of the flight response.  Apparently it is common for birds to evacuate their bowels in such a case and sometimes an egg comes out as well.  The bird would have had to be on the ground when this happened, or the egg would have smashed, but of course Song Thrushes are often on the ground looking for worms or snails.

Philonotis fontana   Veronica chamaedrys

The moss Philonotis Fontana growing in a small slow burn, and the Germander Speedwell under Bracken, showing the two lines of white hairs down the stem which distinguish this species from other Speedwells.

Sound of Sleat

Sometimes there is a gap in the trees, allowing a glimpse of the world beyond.

Tue 17 May 2005

Phylloscopus trochilus
  Cardamine pratensis

This morning I did my first BTO bird survey of the year, visiting a square that consists entirely of forestry plantation, intersected with rides and firebreaks.  In such conditions it is largely a matter of hearing the birds rather than seeing them, but this Willow Warbler chose to sing from the top of a Spruce next to the ride.  In general Willow Warblers seemed less numerous than in previous years, and Robins seemed particularly plentiful.  I logged one species I hadn't seen in my previous 4 visits to the square: Redpoll.

After a bird from below, a plant from above.  A bird's eye view of the Cuckoo Flower.



All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer