Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Storm's a-coming

My boss told me that as he saw it, the idea of moving to Skye and sitting out a wild and windy storm had an almost romantic charm to it. Then he sat through one. The roof blew off the back of the hotel and nine mature trees came down across the grounds. His romantic notion of a Hebridean storm went gusting straight out the window. And guess what...yep, there's a storm coming. One of the staff here reckons wind gusts are going to hit 90mph. I'm just thinking about all the outside painting I've got lined up to do. Luckily the weather is due to improve - in about a week's time.

Naturally enough I did what any self-respecting, hard-working fella would do. I immediately dashed off to the woods for some last minute pan-species listing before the weather really closed in. Heading down to Uig Woods was fine, the wind was at my back and it was fairly dryish. Stepping through the gateway I finally identified the big sedgey-type thing that grows all over the place here as Great Wood-rush Luzula sylvatica complete with its associated microfungus rust Puccinia obscura, which is a lifer for me. Even though I've been staring at it for weeks now. It has been recorded from Skye before, but apparently not from up here at the top end.

Puccinia obscura in all its glory.
There has been a fair bit of rain over the past few days, as can be seen by the current state of the river. I was walking that right hand margin last week, turning stones in search of flatworms.Nothing other than lots of Polycelis felina so far.

I managed to clamber up a bit of the slope in order to reach a big old oak that I could see was festooned with dark patches of lichen. No clear idea of the species involved yet, but here are a couple of pics anyway. Suggestions welcomed! Probably a Sticta or two in there. Like Sticta birds you fool. Apologies for the harsh glare from the flash, it was pretty darn murky out there.

Just as I finished taking these rubbishy pics the wind picked up and the temperature fell. Hmmm, time to make my getaway. One last pic though before I left the woods, this being a whole different kettle of fish. This is what almost every single smooth-barked tree around here looks like up close.

This is what's known as The Graphidion, comprising several genera of lichens on smooth bark. This is Pyrenula.
Scary shizzle to say the least. There are a couple of 'easy' Pyrenula, but that'll have to wait for another day. It was starting to look a tad ominous out to sea. This was the view across the bay towards the pier. 

That dark stuff? That's a hailstorm. Guess what hit me about 3 minutes later...
Luckily I had my waterproofs in the bag. Even so, I was still about 10 seconds too slow, but survived the uphill walk back home without getting wet. Having hail lash me in the face wasn't funny, but the rest of me was dry. There's a welder's mask in the garage, that'd protect my face. And probably get me arrested. Typically the weather cleared up just a few minutes after I was back indoors. Sounds pretty crappy out there now though.   

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