Nature Notes from Argyll
(and occasionally other places)
Mon 1 Oct 2007 Inverinan
A sunny day, warm for October. Walked down a forestry track to a strip of natural woodland at the edge of Loch Awe.
Native trees such as Oak, Alder and all three species of Sallow had grown up in numbers between the track and the forestry. This is a Sessile Oak tree towering above the planted conifers. The Alder leaf in the RH pic is host to the autumnal rust fungus Melampsoridium hiratsukanum, which covered the leaves on every Alder for some distance alongside one of the tracks.
The Ergot fungus is common here in Argyll, though I never saw it in Skye. On Kerrera last week I found some on Perennial Ryegrass, but it seems to be commonest on Purple Moor-grass as seen here beside the forestry track. Down at ground level, the yellow-flowered Lesser Trefoil was plentiful, a more upright form than usual, with leaves a nice autumnal red.
We had the female Black Darter recently, here is the male, basking on a rock - if it was very hot he'd be lined up with the sun but here he's side-on to it to absorb as much heat as possible. They are easy to photograph as they usually return to the same spot, so if you disturb them you only have to wait. This is a dragonfly of bog pools, and was close to a boggy clearing in the forest. Later in the day I saw a female on Bracken. Probably the last dragonflies I'll see this year.
Down into the natural woodland beside the loch now, and an interesting Horsetail which I'm almost sure is the hybrid between Water and Marsh, but will go back to check next year when it's in its prime. Neither parent was in the vicinity. It was by the loch edge among stones that must often be under water, but shaded by Alders which grow right out into the loch here.
The caterpillar was noticed at the same spot, but as it was on my coat it could have travelled some distance. I placed it on the stone for its photo. It turned out to be the Coxcomb Prominent, which feeds on many common deciduous trees.
Several of the Alders in or near the water are dead or dying, which allows the Alder Bracket fungus to take hold. Those in the LH pic are remarkably steeply angled, perhaps because of the shady conditions. The RH pic shows a dead Alder well out in the water, with a couple of the Brackets atop a long straggly coating of Water Moss (Fontinalis sp). The two species Fontalis antipyretica and F squamosa are supposed to be easy to tell apart by the folded and rounded backs to the leaves respectively, in which case I can only say that both species were present here, but I'm not convinced. There is more of the moss in loose dark cushions on the loch bottom, interspersed with mats of Shoreweed which is brighter green and easier to see in the picture.
A view along the loch from this rather special place. A pair of Cormorants were on a rock near here when I arrived, but flew off pronto as birds do when there are humans around.
This is the gall and larva of the gall-midge Dasineura hygrophila. I found several of these on Marsh Bedstraw and brought this one home. The books say the gall is white and the larva yellow, but I sent it to Dr Keith Harris, the gall-midge expert, and he confirmed the ID, so future books must allow for it having red galls and orange larvae.
There was a lot of Skullcap in the marshy woodland near the
loch, but it was well past flowering. Beside the forestry track, however,
it was still in flower. No sign of any autumn mushrooms, perhaps because
of the recent frost and the lack of rain.
All photos and other content copyright © Carl Farmer