Nature Notes from Argyll
(and occasionally other places)

Sun 15 Jul 2007 British Plant Gall Society Meeting - Day 3 of 3 - The Black Isle

We parked at Rosemarkie and walked along the shore and adjoining footpath.

Eriophyes similis gall on Prunus spinosa   Cecidophyopsis psilaspis gall on Taxus baccata

It was an excellent choice of site as the vegetation was very varied.  Near the start there were a lot of trees and shrubs, so we soon notched up a good tally of galls.  Here are Eriophyes similis, a mite gall along the edges of Blackthorn leaves, and Cecidophyopsis psilaspis, another mite gall causing Big Bud on Yew.  There are two galls in the lower half of the picture and an unripe Yew berry at the top.

Hemp Agrimony was prolific along the tree-lined part of the shore near the village, and Sea Rocket grew on the sand.  Later on the ground flattened out and there was band of dune vegetation behind the shore grading into a strip of thorny scrub.  Burnet Rose was common here.

Diplolepis spinosissimae gall on Rosa pimpinellifolia   Janetiella frankumi gall on Rosa pimpinellifolia

As well as the fungal gall Phragmidium rosae-pimpinellifoliae, shown on Friday's page, the Burnet Rose population had the two insect galls shown above: on the left that of the gall-wasp Diplolepis spinosissimae, and on the right that of the gall-midge Janetiella frankumi, a species first discovered in 1999.

Hayhurstia atriplicis gall on Atriplex prostrata agg   Arenaria serpyllifolia ssp serpyllifolia

The aphid gall Hayhurstia atriplicis on Spear-leaved Orache (agg).  Other galls seen included Bradycolus stellariae on Greater Stitchwort, Dasineura viciae on Bush Vetch, Dasineura lathyricola on Meadow Vetchling, Dasineura pteridis on Bracken, Tetraneura ulmi on Wych Elm, Puccinia chaerophylla on Sweet Cicely and Puccinia aegopodii on Ground Elder.

Above right is Thyme-leaved Sandwort.  The flora was full of surprises for me considering I'd spent so long on the west coast at the same latitude and thought I knew the Inverness area pretty well.

Astragalus danicus   Astragalus glycyphyllus

I had no idea that there were wonders like these on the east coast so close to Inverness.  Both these plants belong to the genus Astragalus, and I had never seen either of them before.  On the left, Purple Milk-Vetch, a carpeting rock plant, and on the right, Wild Liquorice, a scrambling shrub which I confess I walked past the first time taking it for Honeysuckle until someone yelled "what's that!"  (Shows how dedicated I was to gall hunting!)

Geranium sanguineum   Sedum album

There was a lot of Bloody Cranesbill, which I hadn't seen before in the north of Scotland, though it's common on the east coast further south.  At the end of our walk there was yet another habitat in the shape of cliffs, and here we found White Stonecrop.  It is native to Britain but most populations of it are of introduced origin, including probably this one.  Common Rock-rose was also seen here.

Carex distans   Unknown noctuid, possibly Oligia sp

One of the female spikes (male at top) from a large tuft of Distant Sedge in a wet patch by the shore.  This neat little Noctuid moth was resting on a Meadowsweet leaf.  I can't ID it as there are so many similar kinds but I think it may be an Oligia species.

Ligia oceanica   Ligia oceanica

Two views of Britain's largest woodlouse, the Sea Slater (Ligia oceanica).

We then drove to a spot not far from the Kessock Bridge where we recorded some more galls, including Puccinia annularis on Wood Sage, Dysaphis ranunculi on Hawthorn and a good selection on Oak.

Andricus quercuscorticis gall on Quercus robur   Centaurea cyanus

Galls of Andricus quercuscorticis on the callus of a wound on Oak.  On our way home we stopped to look at a field of barley which had great drifts of Cornflowers in it.  This used to be a common cornfield weed but is not seen much nowadays.  As there were few other weeds among the crop, the Cornflowers must have been deliberately sown and allowed to grow.  I don't know the story behind this, but it was a highly unusual sight.

Field of barley with Centaurea cyanus



All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer