Nature Notes from Argyll
(and occasionally other places)
Mon 21 Jan 2008 Inverawe. Dull but mainly dry.
Added Hazel to the Jan flowers list, first new one for a week. Heard a woodpecker but did not see it. A Dipper was on the river.
Here is Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus again, frost-free this time and with a better view of the straight leaves which are mostly at an angle of about 45° to the stem. It's a very common woodland floor moss in this part of the country. So is the less robust Rhytidiadelphus loreus, in the other pic, which has curved leaves. Both have red stems. The third common member of the genus, R squarrosus, is the well-known Lawn Moss and is the smallest of the three, with leaves sharply bent back. It too is plentiful around here, in grassland and on the hills. The genus can be recognised by the upright shoots with lightly downcurved branches of varying lengths, and the translucent leaves with a short double midrib.
What looked like a pile of seaweed on a concrete slab (nowhere near the sea) turned out to be a free-living blue-green alga of the genus Nostoc. When dry it's an extremely thin flat film over the substrate, but when wet it is swollen and conspicuous. Thanks to Chris Yeates for the ID.
The tiny mushroom was growing directly on old stems of the moss Hypnum cupressiforme agg, whose fresher stems are visible to its left (the liverwort in front and to its right is Scapania gracilis). It was in shade on top of a dry stone wall. The cap underside has about 10 very broadly spaced arched gills. The stipe has a bulbous base with concolorous patent hairs. No idea what it is. Can't find it in Ellis and Ellis, but perhaps it's not a microfungus, just a mini macrofungus?
The sun appeared for the first time that day just five minutes before setting. Took this pic of Pseudoscleropodium purum in the rich golden light - it is actually just as green as any other moss. Its stems have a fairly regular array of short branches, to which the concave leaves are appressed, but not tightly, giving each branch a cylindrical shape as shown in the second pic. The leaves have a tiny point at their tip which is often bent outwards.
That's it then.
Tue 29 Jan 2008 Seil
A midweek walk with the SNHG, starting and finishing at the Tigh an Truish. Much rain, no worthwhile pics. Saw a Shelduck flying over, the first I'd seen since moving here. Also a Raven practising its rolling display. Teal on pond, redwing in bush. Lunch in pub.
The only plants seen in flower were Gorse, Daisy(1), Groundsel, Hazel (now well advanced), and Red Campion. The Red Campion now holds the honour of the latest "late" flower, and it may well not be beaten. It was clearly flowering on last year's growth and looked a very elderly plant. To be still at it on 29 Jan is quite an achievement, that's 39 days past the shortest day.(and in a year when late flowers as a whole finished much earlier than usual).
Thu 31 Jan 2008 Oban
Needing 19 Jan flowers to beat Gill I got only one, Sea Mayweed. It has been very wet and windy for the past week and today the wind was so strong you could hardly stand up in it. Together with Cocksfoot and Self-heal the Sea Mayweed becomes the latest "late" flowerer - i.e. one that is not an early spring flower or a year-round flowerer but is producing very late "autumn" flowers on last year's growth.
Generally speaking today the vegetation seemed no more advanced than on Jan 6 (apart from Hazel). Didn't see any Celandines, Primrose, Erophila or Barren Strawberry, despite plenty of leaves. I think this is because two weeks of bad weather has meant short apparent day length.
The final tallies can be seen here. After last year's narrow 45-44 win for Yorkshire, this time Argyll was trounced by 59-42.
Must try harder.
Mon 11 Feb 2008 Coire Chreachainn
Skies sunny and clear all day, temperature above freezing but snow in corries.
On the left is Breutelia chrysocoma, which forms dense stands of upright shoots with star-like tips. Next to it was a large patch of Sphagnum girgensohnii, shown on the right. Hylocomium splendens was growing with them, and occasional stems of Square-stemmed St John's Wort poked through the mosses.
The hills are treeless apart from the occasional lone Alder or Rowan beside a burn. On the left is an Alder by Allt Coire Chreachainn.
Just about the first insect of the year was this Stonefly on another solitary Alder by a feeder burn higher up the corrie. It belongs to the Nemouridae and seems closest to Protonemura praecox but I can't be sure. Below are some of the epiphytes clothing the tree.
The north-facing side of the tree was covered in the pale green pendulous moss Hypnum Andoi, except where heartwood was exposed and Mnium hornum took over, the dark moss at the top and in close-up on the right.
More views of Hypnum andoi and Mnium hornum.
Hypnum andoi was also present on the sunny side of the tree, but Mnium was not. Among the Hypnum were dark green patches of the filamentous liverwort Cephaloziella. It's almost certainly C divaricata but I couldn't prove it. The lichen Ochrolechia tartarea also formed patches on the sunny side.
On the hill slopes Racomitrium lanuginosum, Hylocomium splendens
and Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus were all abundant ground carpeters.
All photos and other content copyright © Carl Farmer