Nature Notes from Skye
(and occasionally other places)

Thu 16 Mar 2006 Ardnish

I've had to give Nature Notes a miss this winter as I've been working very intensively on a project to computerise the Skye and Small Isles botanical records.  These records date back over 200 years and are held on species index cards, BSBI record cards, survey forms, letters, compilations of published data, and various scraps of paper.  When the project is finished they will be held in a centralised database accessible through the NBN gateway.  This is part of a national effort to get all wildlife records into one central register so that any interested bodies can easily monitor changes and undertake environmental assessments.

I have also moved house, from Portree to Broadford, and am now fortunate enough to be living in Waterloo, overlooking Broadford Bay with fantastic views across to Beinn na Caillich and the Red Hills.  This is the best birdwatching bay on Skye so I hope I'll be able to get some worthwhile bird photos during the forthcoming Spring migration period.

At the end of Waterloo begins the Ardnish peninsula, a place with a truly wild feel despite being close to houses...

Remains of predated bird

We finished last year with some dead stuff so let's start this year in the same vein.  The only flight feathers patterned like these in "Tracks and Signs of the Birds of Britain and Europe" are those of Golden Plover and Woodcock, and both match the feathers for size but not really for shape.  Both are just about possible but are hardly the commonest of birds in that particular locality, so I'm a bit dubious.  The predator may have been a Peregrine.

Cratageus monogyna with old bird's nest

This lone Hawthorn contains a large bird's nest just 5 ft off the ground.  It is made of twigs and lined with moss, and contains sheep bones and wool.  I'm not very good on nests but imagine it is that of a Hoodie Crow.

Tue 21 Mar 2006 Ardnish

And now for some seriously dead stuff.

Arnioceras semicostatum fossil   Ammonite fossil, possibly Arietites bucklandi


Pecten fossil   Gryphaea incurva fossil

These fossils are roughly 190 million years old, from the early Jurassic period.  The top two are Ammonites, the first being Arnioceras semicostatum and the second possibly Arietites bucklandi.  The third is a fragment of a Pecten, a kind of scallop shell, and the fourth is a cross-section through Gryphaea incurva, a kind of oyster.  Many thanks to Gill Smith for help in tracking down the fossils and the substrate and to Prof. John Wright for the identifications.

But with the sun shining and a Skylark singing overhead it's time to look for signs of new life.  Spring flowers are probably well underway in more sheltered places by now (haven't had time to look) but Ardnish is totally exposed and the winds sweep across it from every direction; it has also been grazed by hungry sheep all winter.  So flowers are very few and far between this early in the season, but I did find these...

Bellis perennis   Ranunculus ficaria


Primula vulgaris   Potentilla sterilis

Daisy, Celandine, Primrose and Barren Strawberry.

Spring is here!!!

On the way home it started to snow.



All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer