Archive for the ‘Field Excursions’ Category

Reelig Glen- 13 February 2016

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

The sun shone in a nearly clear sky most of the morning and early afternoon, but on the forest footpath at the base of Reelig Glen while the light above was welcome there was very little heat penetrating down to the shadows beneath the very tall trees.  Seventeen TDFC members took the short path, anti-clockwise, round the deepest part of the glen.

John Miller led us and explained the interest, the biology and the physics of some of Scotland’s, and Britain’s, tallest trees.  The depth of the glen and the protection this offered and the natural prevelance for the trees to stretch up toward the light, and the fashion for planting favoured tree species over the past 140 or so years has made Reelig Glen the calm place we now enjoy, and the fruitfulness for

The species list below demonstrates the variety Reelig offered even in mid-February.

13/02/16 Reelig Glen
NH 54 NH 55 42 NH 55 43 Notes

Erithacus rubecula Robin
Milvus milvus Red Kite
Buteo buteo Buzzard
Certhia familiaris Treecreeper

Talpa europaea Mole Mole hills
Sciurius vulguris Red Squirrel Drey & cones

Xylaria carpophila Beechmast Candlesnuff Fungus
Sparassis crispa Cauliflower fungus
Exidiopsis effusa Hair ice fungus B.Ing – Lots of hair ice seen
Eutypa scabrosa B.Ing
Melanomma pulvis-pyrius B.Ing
Propolis versicolor B.Ing

Asplenium (Phyllitis) scolopendrium
Asplenium trichomanes
Blechnum spicant
Dryopteris affinis agg
Dryopteris dilatata
Dryopteris filx-mas
Polystichium aculeatum Shield-fern, Hard

Abies alba Fir, European Silver
Abies procera Fir, Noble
Larix decidua Larch, European Champion
Picea abies Spruce, Norway Champion
Picea jezoensis Spruce, Hondo
Picea sitchensis Spruce, Sitka
Pseudostuga menziesii Fir, Douglas Dughall Mòr ;  tallest in Scotland
(66.4m, 4.56m circumferance)
Taxus baccata Yew
Tsuga heterophylla Hemlock-spruce, Western

Flowering Plants
Calluna vulgaris Heather
Chrysosplenium oppositifolium Saxifrage, Opposite-leaved Golden
Fagus sylvatica Beech
Geranium robertianum Herb-robert
Hedera helix Ivy
Ilex aquifolium Holly
Juncus effusus Rush, Soft-
Luzula sylvatica Wood-rush, Greater
Oxalis acetosella Wood-sorrel
Ranunculus repens Buttercup, Creeping
Rhododendron ponticum Rhododendron
Rubus fruticosus Bramble / Blackberry
Rubus idaeus Raspberry
Rumex obtusifolius Dock, Broad-leaved
Tilia europaea (x) Lime Tallest in Britain
Vaccinium myrtillus Bilberry
Veronica montana Speedwell, Wood
Viola riviniana Dog-violet, Common

Field Trip to Reelig Glen

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

Tain & District Field Club has been to Reelig Glen before and we have been fortunate enough to have John Miller lead us as he will on Saturday, 13th February.

Reelig is always a pleasure to visit.  The ultra-tall trees are a mark of the protection afforded by the deep and narrow ravine and they are not the only interest found along the footpaths.

Keep checking this site and the TDFC Facebook page for the latest information about the meeting point.

Winter may still be with us in February so all caveats about apparel and nourishment apply.

Forestry Commission Scotland entry.
Woodland Trust entry.
A BBC entry.
Monumental trees entry.

Strathrory Burn – 12 September 2015

Monday, September 14th, 2015

The Tain & District Field Club enjoyed the prospect of beating the forecast rain while searching for wolf spiders along the sandy / gravelly banks of this burn. The forecast proved about right so it was wet weather gear all-round, but the specific target species Arctosa cinerea did not appear. Of course, lack of evidence does not provide evidence of non-existence, so future searches may be worthwhile.

TDFC members, as ever, observed and recorded many species which will add to the known assemblage in our area.

Here is a species list :

Strathrory spider hunt 12 September 2015
Place Grid Ref Species Name Habitat
Strathrory forestry track NH 6708 7746 Meles meles Badger Scat on road edge.  Not in pit.
Strathrory Bridge NH 660 776 Hirundo rustica Swallow
Strathrory Bridge NH 660 776 Troglodytes troglodytes Wren
Strathrory NH 67 77 Anthus pratensis Meadow Pipit
Strathrory forestry track NH 4523 5802 Bufo bufo Common Toad Crossing road
Strathrory forestry track NH 452 580 Rana temporaria Common Frog
Strathrory Bridge NH 660 776 Forficula auricularia Common Earwig
Strathrory NH 67 77 Bombus jonellus Heath Bumblebee
Strathrory forestry track NH 6707 7745 Sawfly leaf-miner Aspen leaves burrows & leaves stuck together
Strathrory Bridge NH 660 776 Crab spider Swept from veg by river
Strathrory River ford NH 674 774 small Wolf Spider River gravels obeside ford.
Strathrory forestry track NH 659 776 (Equisetum plastre) Marsh Horsetail
Strathrory forestry track NH 6707 7745 Populus tremula Aspen Leaf miner & rust fungus
River above Strathrory Bridge NH 659 776 Ranunculus repens Creeping Buttercup River bank
River above Strathrory Bridge NH 659 776 Succisa pratensis Devil’s-bit Scabious
Strathrory River ford NH 67 77 Succisa pratensis Devil’s-bit Scabious
Strathrory forestry track NH 6707 7745 Melampsora larici-tremulae? Aspen rust fungus ? Aspen leaves


Some photos from the day:

Wet weather spider search
Aspen Leaf-Miner Damage
Badger poo on the track
Toad going nowhere on the track

2015 – New Year Walk

Monday, January 12th, 2015

In fine New Year weather Tain Field Club members walked from Portmahomak to Tarbat Lighthouse along the west shore of the peninsula.

Strong sun – almost warming – between big snow showers seen over Sutherland and blowing in from the north set the scene overhead.  Long, clear, visibility helped  but soil conditions were about as wet as expected and did not impede progress too much.

Apart from enjoying the New Year from its third day there were three objectives TDFC members hoped to observe.

  • The carcass of a dead Sperm Whale
  • Sight of Iceland Gulls
  • Re-visiting the “dinosaur tracks” in the shoreline sandstone surface

All three were seen.  The whale was unmissable and a bit smelly.  The clean air of the strong wind reduced the feared smell of decay, though Herring and Black Backed Gulls walked over the whale’s surface hoping for some tasty morsel.

Though a keen watch had been kept for passing, or standing, Iceland Gulls it was not until reaching the shore near the Tarbatness Lighthouse that the birds gave us a confirmed sighting.  They were simply standing on some rocks and milled about among birds more ‘local’.

The animal tracks were seen, mostly, as David had a photo of the sandstone slabs to help with locating the correct one.  This shore has been subject to very energetic wave action and either that or the hand of man had removed a portion of the slab containing some of the footprints.  TDFC learned that David had pointed the Natural History Museum, London to this site.  It has been visited by Cambridge paleontologists who confirmed the tracks are of tetrapod origin and given the 380 – 410 million year old age of the rocks fits in with being among the five oldest examples of terrestrial animal activity anywhere.  As in Anywhere.  But surely this animal precedes the dinosaurs by no small margin.  The tracks slab has had a cast made and an analysis of the footfall pattern gives rise very clearly to two possible modes of tetrapod locomotion.

After completing the walk TDFC walkers were pleased to accept the invitation for hot tea and coffee, and cake!, from Mary.

New Year walks can be quite frigid affairs, but this day was bright, light, windy, not frosty, and comfortable to experience all the while seeing the Tarbat plants and animals at their annual nadir.

There are other comments on the TDFC Facebook page.  And, here are some photos below.

The Tarbat peninsula; the dead whale at the leftClick image to view


Migdale Loch Autumn Field Trip – 2014

Saturday, October 18th, 2014

On Saturday (18th October) in warm autumn sunshine 12 TDFC members had a most enjoyable walk along Loch Migdale through Woodland Trust’s “Ledmore & Migdale” reserve.

Although this hasn’t been an autumn of spectacular colours, after a few days of sunshine and cool evenings many of the trees were beginning to show us a fine autumn display.

TDFC walk by Loch Migdale, October 18; photo RussellClick image to view


We spent some time looking at fungi and galls although this stretched our knowledge to its limits and beyond! We greatly miss Philip Entwistle’s encyclopaedic knowledge of such things.

After three hours in the woods we returned for a barbecue lunch at the Torroy croft, recently refurbished by the Woodland Trust. Thanks to Gavin, Pam, Marion, Pat and Fay for stalwart work on the barbecue.

BBQ at Torroy Croft, in warm sun; photo GavinClick image to view

While we were at Torroy Jimmy caught a very late flying dragonfly. It was very faded and almost translucent so identification was difficult. Jonathan Willet identified it from photos as a very late flying female Black Darter (Sympetrum danae).

Dragonfly (Black Darter) caught by Jimmy at Torroy; photo DavidClick image to view

Thanks to all who made this a very enjoyable day.

Species List

Walk in Migdale Woods & Torroy      18/10/2014

NH 64 90
NH 65 90
NH 66 90

Species Common Name Grid Ref Count
Recorder ID
Calocera viscosa Yellow Stagshorn NH 65120 90628 TDFC
Melampsorella sp. Pine Witches Broom gall NH 6637 9088 TDFC
Nectria cinnabarina Coral spot NH 6624 9085 TDFC
Cantharellus cibarius Chanterelle NH 6515 9060 TDFC
Candlesnuff type fungus NH 6577 9061 TDFC on birch
Amanita sp. Amanita-type NH 6586 9070 TDFC Possibly Tawny Grisette S.fulva
Amanita sp. Amanita-type NH 65120 90628 TDFC

Blechnum spicant Hard Fern NH 65 90 TDFC
Polypodium vulgare Common Polypody NH 65 90 TDFC
Pteridium aquilinum Bracken NH 65 90 TDFC

Flowering Plants
Juniperus communis Juniper NH 6665 9083 TDFC
Bellis perennis Daisy NH 66 90 TDFC
Betula pubescens Downy Birch NH 66 90 TDFC
Calluna vulgaris Heather NH 66 90 TDFC
Hedera helix Ivy NH 66 90 TDFC
Ulex europaeus Gorse NH 66 90 TDFC
Vaccinium myrtillus Blaeberry NH 66 90 TDFC
Succisa pratensis Devil’s-bit Scabious NH 65 90 TDFC

Vespula vulgaris Common wasp 2 JMcK
Epirrita Sp. November, Pale November or Autumnal Moth 2 JMcK Photo to be checked
Oligotrophus juniperinus Junirer Tulip Gall Fly NH 6665 9083
Phytomyza ilicis Holly Leaf Gall Fly NH 6600 9076
Geotrupes stercorarius Dor Beetle NH 653 906

Dragonflies & Damselflies
Sympetrum danae Black Darter NH 667 908 TDFC Jonathan Willet (record sent to BDS)


Birds No. Breed
Buteo buteo Buzzard NH 65 90 1 TDFC
Buteo buteo Buzzard NH 66 90 1 TDFC
Aegithalos caudatus Long-tailed Tit NH 66 90 TDFC
Troglodytes troglodytes Wren NH 66 90 TDFC
Erithacus rubecula Robin NH 65 90 TDFC
Erithacus rubecula Robin NH 66 90 TDFC
Turdus merula Blackbird NH 66 90 TDFC
Turdus pilaris Fieldfare NH 66 90 TDFC
Turdus viscivorus Mistle Thrush NH 66 90 TDFC
Regulus regulus Goldcrest NH 66 90 TDFC
Parus ater Coal Tit NH 65 90 TDFC
Parus caeruleus Blue Tit NH 65 90 TDFC
Pyrrhula pyrrhula Bullfinch NH 66 90 TDFC

Mammals No.
Cervus elaphus Red Deer NH 65 90 RW, MCT, PO Roaring on S side of loch

Embo Beach Walk – 20/09/2014

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

Saturday 20th September was dull and showery inland but in the east nearer the sea clouds and showers were well separated and the sun shone strongly as the afternoon progressed. Embo Beach looked beautiful in the sun and with a warmish, northerly breeze.

Field Club members began observing before arriving at Embo. a Red Kite was seen at Clashmore, and Truffle mushrooms were brought by David and Susan from Fearn.

If the identification of the Truffles is confirmed (Hymenogaster niveus) this is likely to be their northernmost record.

Also, walking down toward the beach a leaf beetle was spotted on a mint plant by Jimmy. Again, confirmation of the insect (Chrysolina polita & 2 & 3) would be its northernmost record.

Other highlights: jellyfish (Lion’s Mane (Cyanea capillata) & 2 and Octopus), feeding Gannets (mature & immature), Porpoise breeching quite near the shore (following a food fish shoal?), Devil’s Coach Horse Beetle or Carriage Coach Beetle (Ocypus olens), a fresh water beetle, one dead seal, etc.

Here are some photos:

Truffles #1 found by Sue and David, by Chairman DavidClick image to view

Truffles #2 found by Susan and David, by Chairman David

Truffles #3 found by Susan and David, by Chairman David

Leaf beetle from mint plant, by Russell

Leaf beetle from mint plant, by Russell

Octopus jellyfish, by David

Octopus jellyfish, by David

Octopus jellyfish, by David

Octopus jellyfish, by David

Creag Meagaidh Field Trip

Monday, May 19th, 2014

From the field trip on 17th May, 2014 to Crag Meagaidh HERE is the bird list compiled by Russell.

And, some photos from Russell of the TDFC group at Creag Meagaidh:

DSCF0363cClick image to view






Moonwort, Botrychium lunaria

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Moonwort, Botrychium lunaria, is presently abundant on Nigg dunes, as seen by David.

If you haven’t seen Moonwort (Botrychium lunaria) the small grassland fern, it is present in profusion at Nigg dunes at the moment (NH 802 689).
It is easiest to find along the edges of the path in the slightly loner grass areas.
Single Moonwort among grasses - by David #1Click image to view

Field Trip to Raven’s Rock

Monday, April 14th, 2014
11 members of TDFC attended a rather wet field trip to trip to Raven’s Rock gorge at Altass on Sunday 13th April.
View into Gorge
As we descended into the gorge we came on a group of mature beech trees and as always had a look for Beechmast Candlesnuff Fungus (Xylaria carpophila) which we found despite the heavy rain.
Russell and Heather also found beech mast shells with another micro cup fungus which is probably the strangely named Snowy Disco (Lachnum virgineum).  We are getting this one checked by a mycologist.
Snowy Disco  (Lachnum virgineum)
As David had promised we then met a bear, the wonderful carved brown bear in a glade by the river.  Heather and David led the group in singing “One day I went in to the woods, and away up there I met a bear”!
Wet TDFC group & bear
We continued along the moss and fern covered gorge, the burn quite full and fast flowing.
Gorge with fast flowing burn
Eventually climbing up past the two view points with beautifully carved seats (too wet to sit on!).
TDFC Group at the Bench

2014, 22nd February Field Trip to Kiltearn / Balconie

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

17 members & friends of TDFC met at Kiltearn Church car-park for a coastal filed trip on the last Saturday in February.

Firstly we bird-watched along the shore to Balconie Point.

We then cut around the lagoons and reed beds to the riparian woods along the Allt Graad.  Here we changed our focus to the bugs and fungi in the riverbank vegetation.

Our return route took us over the footbridge near the church where a dipper displayed along the bank while we were taking a group photo.

TDFC groupClick image to view

22nd February 2014   Observation List From

Kiltearn and Balconie Point (NH6165 & NH6265)


Xylaria carpophila Beechmast Candlesnuff Fungus         NH 6247 6571 & NH 6231 6577

Ganoderma sp.                         Polyporous bracket fungus               NH 625 657


Zonitoides excavatus Land snail                                      NH 621 659

Discus rotundatus Land snail                                      NH 621 659

Lehmannia marginata Slug                                               NH 621 659

Deroceras reticulatum Netted slug                                     NH 621 659 & NH 625 657

Arion distinctus Black slug                                      NH 621 659


Oniscus asellus Common shiny woodlouse                 NH 62 65

Philoscia muscorum Common striped woodlouse              NH 621 659

Birds No.

Anser brachyrhynchus Pink-footed Goose                  √

Anser anser Greylag Goose                         √

Anas penelope Wigeon                                    √

Anas crecca Teal                                         √

Anas platyrhynchos Mallard                                   √

Bucephala clangula Goldeneye                                6

Mergus serrator Red-breasted Merganser       1

Phalacrocorax carbo Cormorant                              √

Ardea cinerea Grey Heron                             1

Haematopus ostralegus Oystercatcher                         √

Numenius arquata Curlew                                    √

Tringa totanus Redshank                                √

Larus canus Common Gull                          √

Larus argentatus Herring Gull                           √

Larus marinus Great Black-backed Gull        √

Corvus corone Carrion Crow                         √

Sturnus vulgaris Starling                                  √

Cinclus cinclus Dipper                                    1

Erithacus rubecula Robin                                      √

Passer domesticus House Sparrow                       √

Carduelis chloris Greenfinch                              √

Pyrrhula pyrrhula Bullfinch                                √


David McAllister, Heather McAllister, David O’Brien, Russell Wood

Bracket Fungus
Fungus Hunting
Beechmast candlesnuff fungus in situ.
Beechmast candlesnuff fungus
Red-breasted Merganser
Kiltearn bridge
Common striped woodlouse (Philoscia muscorum)

Colour-ringed Shags – Lecture

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

We had an extremely interesting and informative talk by Jane Reid on Tuesday, 14 January, 2014.

Jane asked that members look out for colour ringed shags and record colour and letters from rings if possible. The rings can be read with a telescope. Details in the attached photo.

Shag_ringsClick image to view

Beechmast Candlesnuff fungus

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

We found the Beechmast Candlesnuff fungus (Xylaria carpophila) this morning at Calrossie. Heather found it below the leaf litter within 2 minutes of leaving the car and about 20 secs after starting to search! Photo attached.

Those who weren’t at Tuesday’s meeting can find info about this fungus on the HBRG website news page (

Beechmast_Candlesnuff _Xylaria_carpophilaClick image to view

Beechmast_Candlesnuff _Xylaria_carpophila#2Click image to view

Spidering Field Trip

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

In a change to the objective for the next field trip please join other TDFC members,
the Highland Council Ranger Service,
and the Highland Spider Group

in Rosemarkie to look for Cave Spiders.

Meet on Saturday 19th October, 2013
at Rosemarkie Beach car park NH 7380 5771, at 10 am till 3pm Continue reading “Spidering Field Trip” »

Culbin, May 2013

Monday, May 27th, 2013

Ten members set off from the Cloddymoss car park toward the sea, walking on well established forest road.  The usual slow, observatory pace brought the group to the shore on a very high tide right at lunch time. Continue reading “Culbin, May 2013” »

Garrick Wood, Early Morning Birdsong

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Early on Sunday morning, 28th April, Tain & District Field Club members ventured round Ballinger’s pond by the Garrick corner.

Ten members of the club set out at 6:30AM on a rather cold and damp morning to listen for spring birdsong in the Garrick wood.

We first visited the moth trap which Brian had set the evening before but in these conditions had only one moth, a Common Quaker.

The bird list was rather shorter than hoped for, but for most of the group the many willow warblers were the first we had heard this year.

Here are lists of some sightings:

Oniscus asellus Common Shiny Woodlouse
Orthosia stabilis Common Quaker moth trap

Anser anser Greylag Goose
Phasianus colchicus Pheasant
Numenius arquata Curlew
Larus argentatus Herring Gull
Columba palumbus Woodpigeon
Corvus frugilegus Rook
Corvus corone corone Carrion Crow
Parus caeruleus Blue Tit
Parus ater Coal Tit
Parus major Great Tit
Phylloscopus trochilus Willow Warbler
Troglodytes troglodytes Wren
Turdus philomelos Song Thrush
Erithacus rubecula Robin
Fringilla coelebs Chaffinch

Vulpes vulpes Fox droppings
Capreolus capreolus Roe Deer

Some pictures of the morning out.

2013-04_GarrickWood-01Click image to view