Saturday, 3 December 2016

If You go Down to the Woods Today

Day two in d' hoose and it's now the 2nd December (although I'm writing this on the 3rd...) I had one final day off before starting my new job so figured I'd give the square a good ol' bash. Rather carelessly I forgot my camera, so I shall keep this post short rather than bore you stupid with wall-to-wall text. Sorry. 

I ambled to the beach with its black volcanic sands, got confused trying to ID some barnacles, scanned the gulls for white-wingers (none yet), Mallards for Black Duck (nada) and waders for Willet (it didn't). The tiny calcified shells of Spirorbis spirorbis were noted on Serrated Wrack blades along with two common bryozoans, namely Sea Mat Membranipora membranacea and a bit of Frosted Sea Mat Electra pilosa. Otherwise the beach remained rather quiet, so I headed back into Uig Woods to see what I could find. 

Uig Woods inland of the A87 is really very good habitat. There's a shallow rock-strewn stream rushing through the bottom of a very steep-sided valley, with good tree cover overhead and carpets of mosses and ground plants underfoot. The trees are covered in bryophytes, lichens and a whole array of  resupinate fungi. I tried to ignore them, but caved in and collected a few liverworts. Sod the mosses for now, they scare me! Back in my lab I managed to name a few including Rustwort Nowellia curvifolia which was a lifer for me. Cool.

Playing around in the stream I caught my first ever specimen of Polycelis felina, a small but perfectly formed freshwater flatworm - easily IDed by the sharp pointy 'ears'.  A River Limpet Ancylus fluviatilis was also of note on the underside of one submerged stone. I didn't have my wellies with me, so retreated out of the water before I fell in.  

Back on land I began turning rocks and boulders in an attempt to find some interesting animals living beneath. Well, I most certainly did! First a terrestrial nemertine that continues to defy identification. Not many people are looking at these, it's entirely possible that it's a species previously unrecorded in Britain. Or maybe I'm just being an idiot, which is much more likely. Almost the next rock I lifted revealed a small terrestrial flatworm which looks a lot like Kontikia andersoni but clearly isn't that species. Another first for Britain??? Heck, who knows, I'd have to send it off for DNA bar-coding just in order to get it to species. It's in my fridge, along with the nemertine, awaiting developments. It may be a long wait. 

Uig Woods continues across the A87 and I explored this flatter, drier section too. A rose looked a bit odd, grabbing a few relevant parts (hip, leaflets, prickles) I later keyed it to Glaucous Dog Rose Rosa caesia which is another one I've never seen before. Dog Rose Rosa canina was nearby for comparison. Apparently they hybridise quite freely on Skye so I shall have to keep my wits about me in the future. 

Exploring tree trunks I found lots of small snails which keyed through to Balea sarsii, yet another lifer for me. Beneath loose bark on a fallen tree I found good numbers of that other tree-loving snail Clausidia bidentata. Beneath stones were many Oxychilus (my fave snail genus ever...not!) I took three and after much squinting finally saw the brown speckles on the mantle which, combined with the lack of a garlicky smell, identified them as Oxychilus cellarius. Common as muck up here according to the maps. 

Also beneath the rocks were slugs. No getting away from slugs here! I potted a handful, most were all identified as Arion distinctus but Lehmannia marginata was also present. I need to put in more effort with slugs, the FSC Key is brilliant. 

Millipedes were scrutinised and keyed through, nothing too exciting yet but I bet there's a goodie in them thar hills somewhere! 

Tomorrow I shall include pics, promise!

Algae - 5
Lichens - 2
Fungi - 8
Bryophytes - 8
Plants - 37
Molluscs - 6
Bryozoans - 2
Annelids - 1
Platyhelminths - 2
Arachnids - 1
Myriapods - 3
Crustaceans - 2
Springtails - 1
Hemiptera - 1
Birds - 29
Mammals - 1

Running Total for NG3963 is 109 species.

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