Nature Notes from Argyll
(and occasionally other places)
Tue 31 Aug 2010 Fearnoch, nr Taynuilt. A recording visit to square NM 9632
The banked-up ground around the Fearnoch forestry car park had two very unlikely plants: Viper's Bugloss, with only one previous vice-county record (Lismore, 1935), and Corn Marigold, only familiar in areas of arable farming. I imagine their seeds came in on imported soil; either that or the Forestry Commission (or someone else) deliberately sowed them there. It will be interesting to see how long they survive.
Kerry was first to spot a mushroom. I think it's a Hebeloma species, but can't get any further than that.
We took the route towards Fearnoch village through the forestry. Beside the track we found the small yellow flowers of Trailing St John's Wort, and also this white-flowered form of Self-heal. Its flowers and bracts lack the purple pigment found in the normal kind which was growing nearby.
A semi-mature male Highland Darter, turning from yellow to red, sunning itself on a stone beside the track.
Alan found the Brown Birch Bolete (Leccinum scabrum), and Kerry spotted the False Chanterelle (Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca). We also saw the true Chanterelle in a couple of places.
Near Fearnoch village are nest mounds of the Scottish Wood Ant, built from fallen needles from the planted conifers around them. In nearby Glen Nant the same species makes its mounds of material from native deciduous trees. We followed a trail of ants through the forest, which eventually led to a tree with hundreds of ants marching up and down it.
In the shade of the forest I found the Yellow Stags-horn Fungus (Calocera viscosa), and Sallie found Angel Wings (Pleurocybella porrigens). Alan found the Bay Bolete (Xerocomus badius, no photo) nearby.
One spot by the road down from the village produced several fungi, the best of which was this Toad's Ear (Otidea bufonia), found by Kerry. It was the first vice-county record for any Otidea species. Thanks to Stuart Dunlop and Brian Spooner for help in identifying it.
Close by was Asterophora parasitica, growing on a decaying Lactarius (I think) fruitbody. There are 3 previous vice-county records for this parasitic mini-mushroom: one at Benmore back in 1959, one found during Liz Holden's 2002 survey of Ballachuan Hazelwood on Seil, and one found just two days ago by me on the CAFG foray at Glen Creran. Wonder just how common it actually is. So little fungal recording has been done in Argyll that we have no real idea of the distribution of species.
Also present was the Scaly Earthball (Scleroderma verrucosum). The photo shows the rooting stem which distinguishes this from other earthballs.
The Red-cracking Bolete (Xerocomus chrysenteron) was another find by Kerry at this hotspot. Meanwhile Alan came up with the leaf-mines of the fly Chromatomyia aprilina on Honeysuckle. Alan also found the Amethyst Deceiver (Laccaria amethystea) here, while Sallie found the ordinary Deceiver in the forestry nearby. (No photos of these)
We went back via an area of ancient oakwood pasture. Corn Mint, like Water Mint, is native to the area, but much less common and probably declining, so I was pleased to see a patch of it by the gate. Neill found this Cinnamon Porecrust (Phellinus ferreus) on a fallen oak branch. It's a perennial fungus and you can see the newer growth overlapping the darker pores of the previous year.
After a pleasant lunch at the Connel Church Hall, some of us went on to Dunstaffnage where we found White Campion growing by the shore. This is rare in the west of Scotland, though common in the rest of the UK. The earthworks from construction going on there had some challenging casuals including Black Bindweed, Fat Hen, Rape/Swede (Brassica napus) and a white-flowered form of Common Hemp-nettle.
Neill found these Common Earthballs (Scleroderma citrinum) in the woods behind the castle, but there were few other fungi around.
Two hoverflies on Devilsbit Scabious, a female Eristalis
horticola and a male Eristalis pertinax. Eristalis
hoverflies tend to be rather dark and about the size and shape of honey-bees.
A number of kinds can be found on flowers in the area, of which E pertinax is
more frequent than all the rest put together. It is the only one with the
front tarsi entirely yellow or orange (as opposed to wholly or partly black) and
this can usually be seen if you take a photo from the right angle.
All photos and other content copyright © Carl Farmer