Nature Notes from Argyll
(and occasionally other places)
Tue 15 May 2007 Oban
Another day, another dry stone wall. I immediately recognised Red Banana Moss and Smoky Wall Moss. Here you can clearly see the bunches of red bananas on Polytrichum piliferum, to give it its proper name. Racomitrium lanuginosum turns out to be a famous moss that covers the ground on stony mountain tops. No doubt it finds bare stone wall-tops a similar kind of habitat, exposed to the elements, lacking any obvious nutrient source, and without much competition, at any rate from plants of its own size. As it's been on mountains for millenia before walls ever existed, I'm changing its name to Smoky Mountain Moss.
I found two other Racomitrium species on this wall. The LH pic shows them both, Racomitrium fasciculare on top of the wall and Racomitrium heterostichum on the side, looking darker and as if it's peeling away from the stone. The 2nd pic shows R fasciculare in close-up, a fuzzy warm golden-green moss lacking the white hair-points to the leaves that occur in both R heterostichum and R lanuginosum.
Another species I managed to identify was Hypnum cupressiforme (s.l.), forming flat patches on the top slabs, seen here looking directly down onto the wall. The grey patch in it is Racomitrium heterostichum again. The second pic shows a closer view of both plants.
A couple of fruticose lichens from the wall. Cladonia diversa, showing both the basal squamules and the knobbly podetia. The mosses with it are, once again, Racomitrium heterostichum and R fasciculare. The second lichen is Ramalina subfarinacea, spreading out from a dark crevice into the sunlight. This picture also gives some idea of just how many crustose lichens there are on these stones, but the survey will have to exclude the bulk of them.
Hmmm - must remember to take some flower pics some time. After all, I can do mosses and lichens in the winter.
Here's a summery scene anyway. From Druim Mor, SW of Oban, looking north towards the north end of the Isle of Kerrera (left) and the north end of Oban (right) with the hills of Morvern in the distance.
There were huge numbers of St Mark's Flies everywhere today. Wonder if it's close to St Mark's day? (hunts on Google) - 25 April, hmm, they're a wee bit late.
Tue 22 May 2007 Taynuilt
Two Swallows and a Sparrow (Sparrow is in top left), taken
through my window.
All photos and other content copyright © Carl Farmer