Nature Notes from Argyll
(and occasionally other places)

Tue 30 Jun 2009 Eilean Buidhe, Seil

A Seil Natural History Group midweek recording walk to this tidal island off the coast of Seil.  The tide was out when we crossed to the island but we had to splash our way back.

Eilean Buidhe, Seil

The Seil mainland is in the very front foreground, separated by a narrow channel from Eilean Buidhe which fills the rest of the lower half of the picture.  Behind that is another low island.  The mainland hills are visible across the sound.

Thymus polytrichus & Galium verum   Salicornia ramosissima

The island was very flowery with lots of Thyme, Yellow Iris, Catsear, Thrift, Ragged Robin, Bell Heather and many other colourful plants.   The picture shows Thyme and Lady's Bedstraw.  The second pic shows Glasswort, part of a rich saltmarsh flora which included Long-bracted Sedge, Brookweed, Sea Aster and Greater Sea-spurrey.

Gymnadenia borealis   Dactylorhiza fuchsii   Dactylorhiza x transiens

Heath Spotted Orchid was plentiful, and Common Spotted, Northern Marsh and Northern Fragrant Orchids were also seen.  The latter (Gymnadenia borealis) used to be regarded as a subspecies of "Fragrant Orchid" but has been made a full species following DNA analysis.  Most Fragrant Orchids found in Argyll will be this species. The other two new species of Fragrant Orchid are unlikely in Argyll but not impossible.  Any Fragrant Orchid with the lowest petal clearly broader than long, or with the two side flaps more than 5 mm long and only 1 mm wide, should be investigated carefully.

Pictures (L to R) are Northern Fragrant Orchid, Common Spotted Orchid, and (from the nearby Seil mainland) Heath x Common Spotted Orchid .

Gymnosporangium cornutum gall on Sorbus aucuparia   Oligotrophus juniperinus gall on Juniperus communis

The island is notable for the amount of Juniper, a species of conservation concern.  Both male and female bushes were present, the latter with plenty of fruit.  Two galls associated with Juniper were found.  The fungal gall Gymnosporangium cornutum has alternate generations on Juniper and Rowan, and the Rowan saplings on the island were very heavily infected by it, to a much greater degree than I've seen on Rowan elsewhere.  This is doubtless because they were growing in or near Juniper from which the fungal spores can spread to them in large quantities.  As the Juniper itself didn't seem to be much harmed by the fungus, you could almost say that the fungus is beneficial to it by preventing Rowan from taking over. The other gall was that of the gall-midge Oligotrophus juniperinus, which makes the enlarged bud shown in the RH pic.

Butterflies seen on the island were Painted Lady, Meadow Brown and Common Blue, while Small Copper was seen on the Seil mainland nearby. A blue damselfly was also seen on the island, which looks very much like the Azure Damselfly in photos taken by one of the party, but unfortunately we can't rule out a Common Blue.

Hipparchia semele   Wed 1 Ju1 2009 Glencruitten

Left: A Grayling butterfly warming itself in a polytunnel

Fri 3 Ju1 2009 Taynuilt

Below: A Beautiful Golden Y moth that came in through my window

Autographa pulchrina



All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer