Nature Notes from Argyll
(and occasionally other places)
Sat 7 May 2011 Loch Achilty to Rogie Falls, Ross-shire. A meeting of the Highland Biological Recording Group.
A couple of plants that we rarely see here in the west but are
common in the drier eastern half of the country. Chickweed Wintergreen and
Common Wintergreen (not closely related despite their names). The latter
has last year's fruits in the bottom left corner and this year's buds at the
Pearl-bordered Fritillaries were on the wing in Achilty Wood. This Ruby Tiger was caught in the air by Jimmy's net.
For me the
event was an opportunity to learn a bit more about inverebrates from Jimmy
Murdo Macdonald, and it did not disappoint in this regard...
The most exciting find was the Slave-making Ant, whose military
prowess is described
here. The king-size hoverfly Criorhina ranunculi, rare in the north,
was caught by Murdo; the photo is taken through a plastic tube.
The Pine Weevil at the top of a young pine shoot, and the
Nursery Web Spider with the huge egg-ball that it carries around.
Another large spider found under a stone where it has dug out
a hollow for itself and its egg sac. Identification awaited.
An oak seedling with the gall of Trigonaspis megaptera. These were
plentiful in Achilty Wood and are also having a good year in Argyll. There
were some monster millipedes in rotten tree stumps, of the species
Ommatoiulus sabulosus. Last year I
showed one from Inveraray which was
slightly outside the quoted maximum size of 33 x 2.8 mm. That one was
about 34.5 x 2.95. Today's biggest, shown here, was 40 x 3.5, so it was
over 20% beyond the normal maximum in both dimensions. It is also of
interest in that the pale stripes along the back are replaced with a series of
dots. This is the "maculate form" mentioned in Blower 1985.
We took the path that leads out of the woods towards the
heathery slopes, only to be challenged by this fierce-looking mushroom sprouting
from the gravel. I make it Helvella corium, which would be only the third
Scottish record for that species. Am awaiting confirmation. It was
spotted by Brian Ballinger.
Up among the rocks and heather the Petty Whin was a pleasing
sight. The caterpillar on Bearberry is a Heath Rustic. Thanks to Roy Leverton for
confirming the ID. Its only foodplant given in the books is heather, but
Roy says he would not be surprised if it eats bearberry as well.
The rare moss Buxbaumia viridis, which has no visible leaves,
just a green capsule on a red seta. It grows on rotting logs in humid
woods, and is hard to see even when several people are pointing at it.
Dave Genney discovered this population some time back and brought us to see it.
On the right is another scarce moss that grows nearby, Antitrichia curtipendula.
Dave also showed us Peltigera britannica, one of the few dog lichens to contain a green alga rather than a cyanobacterium, although it does have a cyanobacterium in the grey cephalodia scattered about on its surface. This lichen is bright green when wet but grey when dry, as here.
Some nice moth visitors through the window this evening.
On the left, a Garden Carpet, rather unusually marked, with the normally solid central
band divided into two narrower bands separated by a pale one. On the
right, the silky-looking Clouded Silver. Also had a Brimstone, a White
Ermine and 3 Brown Silver-lines.
All photos and other content copyright © Carl Farmer