Despite the past week's worth of blazing sunshine, today soon clouded over. By early afternoon it was raining and by mid-afternoon it was chucking it down. This seems a little perverse to me, because mid-afternoon today is the precise time of the lowest tide of the spring here at Uig and I was all ready for rockpooling fun. I've been really stoked for finding all kinds of amazing goodies, especially after hearing about the Sussex Shenanigans that occurred yesterday. Apparently Graeme Lyons squealed like a girl when a Lobster nipped him. Haha, I'd love to have seen that (but mainly coz I still 'need' Lobster).
I took a sneaky half-day at work and shot off, planning to follow the tide out and praying the weather forecast was wrong. Lots of the usual stuff, it wasn't actually too bad. It's just that I quit before lowest water which is a bit galling. Luckily the forecast is better for tomorrow, just cloudy with little in the way of rain. Tomorrow I shall strike gold!
Quick run down on what I found today, none of these are out of the ordinary here. I find this lot most times I look. Common Limpets, Beadlet Anemone, Dog Whelk, Edible Periwinkle, the two Littorina Flat Periwinkles, Green Shore Crab, Edible Crab, Sandmason Worms, the tubeworms Janua pagenstecheri, Serpula vermicularis and Spirorbis spirorbis, the hydroid Dynamena pumila on Serrated Wrack, the encrusting bryozoans Membranipora membranacea and Electra pilosa, Common Mussels, Breadcrumb Sponge, Butterfish and lots of Orchestia gammarellus. I also found this thing clinging to submerged wracks - took me a moment to figure out exactly what it was!
|Rather gruesomely this was still alive and crawling! Any ideas yet?|
This is the arm of a starfish. I don't know which species, but it's the first echinoderm I've seen since I moved here. Whatever it is/was/will be.
|Common Limpet Patella vulgata amongst barnacles|
|Breadcrumb Sponge Halichondria panicea being all weird amongst barnacles|
|Edible Periwinkles Littorina littorea discussing life by some more barnacles|
Anyway, the rain swept in whereupon I swept out. I spotted a clump of garden plants growing from in the middle of a pile of dumped boulders. I see this species in many gardens locally, I think it is London Pride, a hybrid species that has become well naturalised throughout much of lowland Britain. It's already been recorded from several parts of Skye according to this BSBI hectad map
|London Pride Saxifraga x urbium persisting in a pile of dumped rocks|
I remember getting massively excited when I found several clumps of St Patrick's Cabbage growing in a ditch somewhere just south of Drumnadrochit whilst walking LEJOG a few years back. Then, back home and after checking the hundreds of photo's I'd taken, I realised it was London Pride and not mainland Britain's sole relict population of St Patrick's Cabbage after all. Poop. But London Pride is 'new' for my square, so it was kind of (almost) exciting after all.
I jumped a low stone wall and checked the small area of woodland that runs between Cuil Road and the Conon River (the area I previously thought was an overgrown garden). Lifting rocks from the woodland floor I found really good numbers of the millipede Tachypodoiulus niger and large numbers of the woodlouse Porcellio scaber too. Then I lifted a stone and found this thing
|It was a bit pinkier-looking in real life|
This is the largest flatworm I've seen up here so far. I thought it was something new, and it may well turn out to be, but I now think it's a fully grown Microplana scharffi, easily over an inch in length. The ones I usually see are barely a centimetre in length. The pinky hue would indicate it has recently eaten an earthworm. Against all expectations a nearby rock had another one beneath it, this one whiter and hence presumably less full of earthworm than the first. I potted them up anyway, I now have a friendly contact at the Terrestrial Flatworm Recording Scheme who is happy for me to send him specimens.
The woodland ground layer here is comprised of Lesser Celandine and Ramsons. That's it! This spot is going to look and smell absolutely divine in a few weeks time. I shall be keeping a close watch for the Ramsons Hoverfly Portevinia maculata sitting on the leaves. I shall also be looking out for the sole microfungus associated with Ramsons leaves, namely Botryotinia globosa - though there is another associated with the bulbs which causes rot. Maybe I ought to surreptitiously dig a few up and check?
|Ramsons - probably my favourite garlic!|
By now I was feeling rather damp so headed back up the hill once more. Tomorrow will be better. Or drier, if nothing else.