Nature Notes from Argyll
(and occasionally other places)
Tue 25 Nov 2008 Ellenabeich
Today the Seil Natural History Group had its first midweek recording walk. The midweek walks were originally started for people who couldn't get to walks at the weekend, but from now on the midweek walks will have a different format to the weekend walks. In the midweek walks we'll explore a particular 1 km square and record everything we can find there. In this way we hope to build up a knowledge base of the local flora and fauna.
We walked up into the hills behind Ellenabeich. It looked like good waxcap country but was not the right time of year for them. We did find this solitary specimen of Hygrocybe punicea (just outside the target square), and a few other waxcaps that were too decayed to identify. The place is definitely worth a waxcap hunt next September.
We also found the Dung Roundhead, or Stropharia semiglobata, which grows on sheep dung at any time of year.
Rosy Barlow spotted these tiny Hairy Earth-tongues (Trichoglossum hirsutum) which I'm sure most of us would have missed. They are a new vice-county record. The Entoloma in the RH pic could not be identified to species level as it lacked spores.
The coastal lichen Lecanora gangaleoides. We ended up descending a gully to the shore between damp vertical rockfaces that sported Roseroot and a variety of calcicole bryophytes. Beyond the tideline this alga known as Gutweed clung to the dank sunless walls, where it must be battered by ferocious surges during storms.
The complete list of species recorded is in the Files section of the SNHG forum.
At one point on our route we came across an extensive area of bare ground with a covering of Foxglove rosettes. This was rather puzzling as there were no signs that the ground had been cleared or disturbed recently, though there were intriguing stone and metal artefacts from days gone by. Richard Wesley made some enquiries afterwards and "discovered from John Gordon that it was an old shooting range. This ground, which probably dates back to the turn of the century, was where the riflemen stood to fire. The lead casings would fall to the ground after firing and this would explain the lack of plant growth, apart from foxgloves. The large slabs with circular markings, were in fact the old targets, which were probably attached to the metal frameworks which we found behind the old wall. The old Easdale Hall, built in 1870 was originally a drill hall for the local volunteer militia."
It's remarkable that after all that time the ground should still be so poisoned as to prevent the growth of most plant species. It will be interesting to go back in summer and see exactly which species, including bryophytes, can survive there.
Sat 29 Nov 2008 Taynuilt
Found this Large Yellow Underwing caterpillar hiding in some moss that I brought home. We had the adult moth on 14 Jul 2007, but I've yet to get a picture showing the adult's bright yellow hind wings. The caterpillar feeds at night during the winter and pupates in the Spring.
Tue 23 Dec 2008 Barnacarry
The second SNHG midweek recording walk.
We walked down the track to Barnacarry and took a brief detour to look at these flat rocks from which people used to carve millstones. Some millstones cracked as they were being carved and were simply left in the rock, where they can be seen today. Also here we saw seals with a pup on an offshore skerry, together with Shags, Oystercatchers and Mergansers.
We then followed the sandy shore to the west side of the bay. The sand is dark grey here and may be formed from slate particles. We entered our target square NM 8022 and a track led us into oak and birch woodland. This unseasonal mushroom was growing beside the track. It may be the Goblet, Pseudoclitocybe cyathiformis, but I can't be sure. As often in winter, it gave no spores.
The cinder-like Birch Woodwart, Hypoxylon multiforme, was found on a fallen birch trunk, and the orange alga Trentepohlia abietina was on a shaded dry stone wall in the wood.
The Yellow Brain Fungus and the Hoof Fungus were both found on Oak, along with a variety of lichens. Other interesting finds were the Tree Slug, the beetle Pterostichus aethiops, Wilson's Filmy Fern and a tuft of Early Hair-grass with a fresh inflorescence.
Fri 26 Dec 2008 Inverawe
As it's Christmas here is Nowellia curvifolia; it was growing with another rich red liverwort of rotting wood, Odontoschisma denudatum. This microscope pic of the Odontoschisma gives a better idea of it than the ones I tried in situ.
The liverwort Plagiochila spinulosa which covered a boulder on its south side; the north side was covered with Mousetail (Isothecium myosuroides), which also clothes the dead tree in the second picture that has been colonised by the Stump Puffball.
Wed 31 Dec 2008 Taynuilt
Two Long-tailed Tits were foraging in rushes, unusually far from
any tree or bush. A Dipper and a pair of Goosander seen from the River Awe
footbridge. There's been a long spell of dry frosty weather, and it looks
like being a sunny start to the new year.
All photos and other content copyright © Carl Farmer