Nature Notes from Argyll
(and occasionally other places)
Sun 7 Oct 2007 Taynuilt
The field below my bedroom window was full of Redwings this morning. The LH pic shows how they space themselves out across the grass, and the RH one is a zoom shot through the window. As you can see, the ground is pretty wet...
...and from the living-room window the evaporating dew wafts up the hillside. A glorious sunny day was in prospect, and so it turned out.
Same day. Ganavan, just north of Oban. There's a sandy beach here, and good walks through a variety of countryside. I headed north along the coast, which soon loses its sandy character (bottom pic on this page shows how it looks).
I never thought of Harebell as a rock plant until today, but it was plentiful in crevices on the cliffs here. The first pic shows one of the few flowers not yet gone over, and you can see the round basal leaves which give it its Latin epithet "rotundifolia" as well as the narrow stem leaves which are all you normally notice when the plant is growing in grass. The second pic shows the unripe and ripe fruit capsules. The bright green leaves in the first pic are Wood False-Brome.
This Gorse bush was flowering exceptionally early; there were no signs of flowers on any others. I thought it might be the hybrid with Western Gorse, but the evidence is inconclusive.
In places the cliffs look like they're made of stones set in cement, but are perfectly natural. I'm told this is Lower Old Red Sandstone basal conglomerate, probably formed by an alluvial fan about 400 million years ago. Thanks to Gill Smith for this info. From the Mull Historical and Archaeological Society site: "The Dunollie Boulder beds near Oban represent a conglomerate of massive proportions deposited during desert flash floods when rare desert storms swept debris from the denuding mountains down wadis and out onto the desert plains."
The shady gullies along this coast provide a humid atmosphere for lichens such as Green Lungwort (Lobaria virens), here wrapping itself round a rock though it's more often on trees.
Back at the campsite area there are some nice bits of woodland, and here the Witch's Broom (caused by Taphrina betulina) on Birch is plentiful, though generally in Argyll it seems much less common than it was on Skye.
The sandy beach itself had a decent flora considering the amount of human traffic and the lack of any dunes. On the left is Sea Rocket with its mauve flowers and podgy fruits. At the back of the sand in this pic is the concrete banking of the car park, showing the limitations that nature has to work with here. Ray's Knotgrass was also present, as were Spear-leaved and Babington's Oraches. Where a small freshwater stream runs across the beach there was a different range of plants including Common Storksbill (not common on the West Coast) and a large patch of Whorl Grass, above right, a plant I'd never seen before!
Lots of Sea Mayweed still in flower. Further up the coast on the rocky and grassy bits, there were quite a number of isolated late Thrift flowers. Also saw another 7-spot Ladybird.
This pair of Mute Swans are obviously used to human company and allowed me to
approach almost within touching distance.
All photos and other content copyright © Carl Farmer