Nature Notes from Argyll
(and occasionally other places)

Tue 8 May 2012 Eilean Munde

St Mun's Island in Loch Leven, north of Ballachulish, but still within VC98.  Its first known inhabitant was St Mun from Iona who set up a chapel there, and it has long been used as a burial ground by the MacDonalds of Glencoe among others.

Eilean Munde from the west

 St Mun's Island from the boat

Eilean Munde from the south

Another view from the boat as it made its way to the landing-place on the far side of the island

Geranium sp.

Plant recording began as soon as we landed.  This is a puzzling Geranium, closest to Cut-leaved Cranesbill but not right - could it be a very odd Herb Robert?  Made a note to check on it when we go back later in the year.

  Aesculus hippocastanum

Horse Chestnut, one of several planted trees on the island, others included Larch and Lime.  There were a number of self-sown seedlings about from the Horse Chestnut.

Eilean Munde shoreline

Eilean Munde shoreline, with Marsh Marigolds and Scurvy-grass in flower and Meadowsweet, Cow Parsley and Curled Dock to come.

Rock exposed by tree

Intriguing piece of rock exposed by a tree that had blown over

Crataegus monogyna   Sambucus nigra

The first Hawthorn flower I've seen open this year, and the first Elder flowers too

Sorbus aucuparia   Armeria maritima

Also the first Rowan.  Not the first Thrift, but it makes a fine display among the slate

Lichen on gravestone

A lot of the gravestones were made of Ballachulish slate which preserves the inscriptions very well, but many were partly covered by this lichen.  I assumed it was Melanelixia fuliginosa but now I think it may be Xanthoparmelia loxodes, will check next time.

Parmelia sulcata

Slate gravestone with iron pyrites and the lichen Parmelia sulcata.

Pap of Glencoe

Eilean a'Chomhraidh with the Pap of Glencoe behind

Seaweed and snow

Still a bit of snow on the very highest hills.  To tell the truth it felt cold enough for snow on the island, but stayed dry.

Eilean Munde from Eilean a'Chomhraidh

Eilean Munde from Eilean a'Chomhraidh, with the slopes of Beinn Bhn and Meall a'Chaolais behind.

Arenaria interpres

Turnstone on the beach at Eilean a'Chomhraidh

Calidris alpina

A single Dunlin was seen

Larus canus

At least 100 Common Gulls were nesting on the tidal island next to Eilean a'Chomhraidh.

Larus canus eggs

This nest was near where we landed on Eilean a'Chomhraidh, and not with the other Common Gull nests on the tidal island.  We moved away from it and the gull returned to sit on the eggs.

Chroicocephalus ridibundus

There were just a couple of Black-headed Gulls, keeping well away from the Common Gulls

Robbed nest

Broken eggshells were met with frequently, probably mostly due to predation by Common Gulls of the other inhabitants such as Oystercatchers.  This robbed nest may have belonged to a goose.  There were a few Greylag and Canada Geese about and one definite broken goose egg was found elsewhere on the island.  We did not see any Eiders nesting but saw some on the water.  There were also 5 Common Terns flying about and hovering over the water.  They are known to nest on the island but the ones we saw stood about on a skerry when not in the air.

Slate boathouses, Ballachulish

The shore at Ballachulish consists of slate quarry waste.  These boathouses were built from the local slate in the mid-19th century by quarry workers.


All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer