Nature Notes from Skye
(and occasionally other places)
Tue 6 Jun 2006 Suardal. Sun and cloud. Rain later on.
Here's a much better picture of Mountain Avens than the 22 May one. The plant is plentiful on the western slopes of Ben Suardal, carpeting areas of broken rock and flowering profusely. Not only does the hill have limestone scree, grikes and flushes to keep the botanist on the alert, but even the heathery bits are packed with woodland flowers, particularly Wood Anemones. Everything you'd expect to find in a Skye wood, apart from the trees, is there among the heather.
There are also closely-grazed grassy areas and here we find the form of Lady's Mantle known as Alchemilla filicaulis ssp vestita. The one in the picture has the leaf cut to almost halfway and has silvery edges reminiscent of Alpine Lady's Mantle (which grows there with it) but I ruled out a hybrid on close examination.
Limestone grikes also have most of the common woodland flowers, including Primroses, as well as specialities such as the Green Spleenwort fern.
The Early Purple Orchid has mostly finished flowering in its coastal sites, but here on the hill it is in prime condition and quite numerous. This is a rather pale one. Saw this creature on the rock where I stopped to have lunch and thought it might be a Pill Millipede or something of the sort, but it is actually a beetle larva. It has three pairs of legs near the front and just drags its rear along. The thick end is the front. The body armour is made of overlapping plates just like with woodlice and slaters.
On the far side of the Ben one comes to Glen Suardal with its wooded burn. This is a good place to look for insects when it's too windy up above. One of the most noticeable was the Large Stonefly (Dinocras cephalotes).
All photos and other content copyright © Carl Farmer