Saturday, 7 January 2017


I've gotten a bit behind with my blogging, been out twice now without a write-up. So this is a mashup of a post for you. Have to say though, it's full of unidentifiables, probables and possibles - not ideal by any means. 

Firstly I took a trip down to the beach, the tide was mostly in so I concentrated on papping lichens on rocks. I've narrowed this lot down to some sorta 'Caloplacaflacca' type stuff. With a bit of what is presumably Xanthoria parietina thrown in for good measure. I need to get myself a decent guide, some chemicals and a compound microscope before tackling these with any degree of certainty!

All smart looking things, the last shows a Xanthoria starting to overgrow a Caloplaca, at least I think that's what they are. The very black stuff is Verrucaria maura. One thing that I CAN identify for certain are these wee chaps, Ligia oceanica hiding away on the underside of a large boulder at the top of the beach. Also known as Sea Slaters, these are a close relative of the woodlouse. Except these are strictly to be found at the shoreline, the rockier the better. I've never seen one more than a few metres inland. Big ones can grow to maybe a couple of inches in length and somehow always remind me of Trilobites. Weirdo that I am.

These were just small ones. I found one much larger individual, but it scurried away before I could get an image.
Still no sign of any white-wingers on the shore, just the usual suspects - Herring Gulls and Great Black Backs. There was a report yesterday of a first winter Glaucous Gull on the roof of the co-op in Portree. That's only 15 or so miles away from here. Close but no cigar. Up to four immature Iceland Gulls on the adjacent mainland maybe 40 miles from here. One day it'll happen, some day.

The woods have been pretty wet of late, hence the lichens have been looking at their best. Here's a grand old Sycamore with a diverse array of lichens and bryophytes. There are probably 20 lifers right there for me.  Need.more.enthusiasm.

Bit of a beast, got to be 6 or 7 feet diameter at the base.
I found Sticta limbata at last, the third of potentially four Sticta species that occur up here and a lifer for me.

Sticta limbata in the glaring light of the camera flash...
I managed a slightly better image of Pyrenula macrospora at last. I really struggle to take sharp images, probably trashed the lens of my camera from dunking it into too many rockpools and not properly cleaning it with freshwater afterwards. Plus it's just a cheap clickamatic without the option of manual focus. Must improve my set-up sometime.

IDed purely on the basis of (relatively) large size of the black perithecia and small, white pseudocyphellae on the surface.
Down at the river I turned a few stones finding plenty of River Limpets (Ancylus fluviatilis) but no flatworms. I doubt they are actually absent, the recent spate may have pushed them into the gravel or away from their usual haunts? Or I may just have missed them.

Turning over logs, boulders and part-buried stones is a great fascination of mine. It's something I've always done since childhood and watching centipedes scampering away or woodlice falling off the underside always made me smile. But not nowadays, not now that I'm a pan-species lister! Now it's all about being quick enough to spot what species are present before they zip off and to grab anything that seems worth checking more closely. Which could be the head of an earthworm rapidly-retreating into the soil, a centipede exploding into action and going for a new land-speed record across the back of a log, a millipede retreating into the tightest most inaccessible of crevices, a springtail that you just know is about to ping into low orbit or, more likely, all of the above happening simultaneously leaving you with one hand holding the log up and the other frantically fumbling through the wrong pockets for a pot or tube of any description! Anyway, I still love it. I just need more hands and the lightning reflexes of a meerkat.

Luckily these guys were in no mad hurry to escape my evil clutches and allowed a few record shots to be taken, for what they're worth. These are all under part-buried stones.

Probably Deroceras reticulatum. Individuals as cleanly pale as this could potentially be D.agreste (ie a chop-job!)
The very large Limax maximus aka Leopard Slug, Great Grey Slug, Cellar Slug and many more!
Arion flagellus, the so-called Green Soled Slug. Note the very rugged, wide rows of tubercules

Both images of the same slug. I think it must be Arion distinctus seeing as A.hortensis is absent from Skye.
 Still in the damp woods I found this interesting fungus, one I haven't seen up here before.

Xylaria polymorpha, lacking the 'stalk' of Xylaria longipes.
Also seen on a damp muddy bank was a carpet of this stuff, Conocephalum conicum - a huge bugger of a liverwort. Wish they were all as obvious as this!

Conocephalum conicum the Snakeskin Liverwort. Apparently highly aromatic, but I only ever smell dirt.
Also of note was a single Waxwing that circled overhead before landing in the top of a tree in the garden on the 5th Jan. I picked it up by its highly distinctive call. Nationally this has been a very good year for Waxwings, not quite on the scale of some of the big invasion years but pretty good nonetheless. The East coast of Scotland was dripping in them a month or so back. Now they're munching their way through the English Midlands and into Wales. Skye almost entirely missed out on the action, a flock of 4 were seen on 27th December and that was it! So I'm doubly happy with my sighting. I let the local bird recorder know and he duly whacked it up on his website on this page. A male Tawny Owl was calling outside my room last night, my first of the year.


  1. Caloplaca thallincola with lots of apothecia in the middle and the narrow convex lobes (pic 3)

  2. Thanks Ali, I had that as one likely suspect. This from the Lichens Marins website: "Colour variable according to exposition, most often a magnificent bright golden-yellow to bright yellow-orange" and I guess it is rather 'magnificent' looking!