Nature Notes from Skye
(and occasionally other places)
Sat 3 Jun 2006
As long as I gaze on
I am in paradise.
With apologies to the Kinks. View from my front door in Waterloo, looking across Broadford Bay.
Sun 4 Jun 2006 Dalavil. Dry but dull. Snipe chippering, Skylarks chirruping, Stonechats chacking. Misty late on.
Above: the Argent and Sable Moth.
Left: Male Golden-ringed Dragonfly just emerged from its larval skin. It is pale and dull in colour and remains in place for an hour or so until its wings are ready for flight. This is the only time that it rests with its wings in the closed position.
I can never resist taking photos of this glorious creature, even though he's been on the site before, and his iridescence is not at its best on a dull day. This is one of the most stunning sights of all Skye wildlife, and no photo can capture its beauty. The aptly named Beautiful Demoiselle. The only place in Skye where it occurs is Dalavil, but there it is common and approachable.
The Green Tiger Beetle, and two shots of a red Soldier Beetle, Cantharis pellucida. When it reaches the top of a grass blade it flies down to the base of another one close by and starts to climb that, repeating the process when it gets to the top, just like a miniature Treecreeper.
A couple of sedges that can be found along the Dalavil path. The Smooth-stalked Sedge (left) is found by (and on) the path in the wood, and the Pale Sedge (right) occurs where the track goes through wet ground out in the open.
Here is a close-up of the wee beastie visible in the Pale Sedge pic above. It could well be the Sheep Tick, Ixodes ricinus, but I can't rule out other species. The Ribwort Plantain on the right has all its leaves inrolled and distorted. Inside them among the hairs are large numbers of tiny mite larvae about 0.1-0.2 mm long and a quarter of that wide. They start off white or translucent and turn pale brown, starting with the head. This must be the gall of Epitrimerus coactus, which is said to be rare in "British Plant Galls".
Hawthorn in full bloom. The loch shores in winter acquire a thick layer of broken-up stems of either Reed or Common Clubrush, both are plentiful in the loch. In Spring rushes grow up through this layer and often grow right through one of the bits of dead stem, which they then proceed to elevate as their own stems lengthen. This one was about a foot off the ground, and has been utilised by a spider to good effect.
There are a lot of Small Heath butterflies about now. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard, but not seen, in the wood, and Reed Buntings were "singing" in the reeds. Cuckoos are still calling, and as you push homeward through the heather to keep ahead of the distant drizzle, a Whinchat rises up ahead of you and flits from bush to boulder sounding its mournful alarm call until you are gone. Mist and silence descend upon the glen. The Beautiful Demoiselle takes shelter in the bracken. You take comfort in your watch and your car keys. The Soldier Beetle ceases its struggle to find a blade of grass without an end.
All photos and other content copyright © Carl Farmer