Nature Notes from Argyll
(and occasionally other places)

Fri 5 Sep 2008 Rannoch Moor

Ancient tree remains on Rannoch Moor

Rannoch Moor is bog.  It's not all bog, but bog is what makes it Rannoch Moor.  There are thousands of lochs, lochans, pools and puddles.  There are thousands-of-years old pine stumps sticking out of the peat.  The going is clumpy, heathery and tussocky, and that's when you're on the drier bits, but you soon come up against wet, whichever direction you take.  You're always aware that you might not find a way back to your starting point due to being endlessly diverted by pools and squelchy bits that can't be crossed.  Following their margins can make you lose more ground than the amount you gain by the forward progress at their ends.  And so you end up trapped on Rannoch Moor forever, the A82 fading as fast as its memory, the mist closing in and the wraiths of the moor spirits tapping on your temples...

Sarcoleotia turficola   Betula nana

But it's worth it to find such gems as this little peatbog fungus Sarcoleotia turficola, a vice-county first according to the BMS database.

Dwarf Birch is a low shrub with leaves more rounded than the tree Birch species.  It favours parts of the moor where the main vegetation is a mix of Heather and Purple Moor-grass.

Utricularia stygia   Utricularia minor

Bladderworts occur in great quantity.  I found two kinds but there are probably others.  The first is Nordic Bladderwort, which has the bladders on separate stems from the leaves, and very rarely flowers this far north.  The second is Lesser Bladderwort which flowers quite often, though I only found the one patch in flower.  It has bladders and leaves on the same stems.

Genista anglica   Acronicta menyanthidis caterpillar

The bulging curly-tailed pods of Petty Whin, which flowers in June.  I had not seen it before, as it keeps away from the west coast.  The caterpillar was also new to me, it's the Light Knot-grass, eating Bog Myrtle here; I found another on Cross-leaved Heath.

Fri 12 Sep 2008 Crinan Ferry

Oenanthe lachenalii   Puccinia circaeae

Parsley Water-dropwort is an uncommon plant of marshy ground near the coast; the background shows the habitat.  I also found some on short saltmarsh turf, but there the plants themselves were much shorter too.  The striking rust on Upland Enchanter's Nightshade, growing under Bracken, is Puccinia circaeae.

Dasineura affinis gall on Viola riviniana   Croesus sp larvae

These purple galls on Dog Violet are caused by the gall-midge Dasineura affinis.  The sawfly larvae exhibiting their threat posture on an Alder leaf belong to the Croesus genus, which has several species that all look pretty much alike.

Andricus quercuscalicis gall on Quercus robur

Acorns with Knopper Galls


All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer