Archive for the ‘Topical Items’ Category

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

Fungal Survey – please contribute data

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015


by Mr B. Ing, Ullapool

Since 2004 I have been compiling records of fungi (all groups) from Ross-shire, v.c. 105 and 106. Historical records,
from literature and herbaria, have been augmented by a systematic programme of fieldwork.

With 98 whole or part 10km grid squares covering the area I am aiming at geographical as well as mycological
coverage. A ‘target’ of 100 species per 10km square has been adopted, although the better-worked squares have far
more than this. 72 squares have now reached their target! 10 of the remaining 26 are difficult of access.  (Note – for
hectads only partly in VCs 105 and 106 the target is <100 species – actually the number of 1km squares in the VCs.)

The list below is arranged as follows: grid square/target/number of species recorded/ species required/notes of likely
sites, accessibility etc. Any help with records, whether macrofungi; mushrooms, brackets, puffballs etc., plant
pathogens: mildews, rusts, smuts, leaf spots etc, or ascomycetes on soil or wood, will be gratefully received and duly
acknowledged in the proposed publication.


no. species

no. species

remaining required
no. species


NG64 7 1 6 Along coast road N of Applecross Bay, no woodland.
NG65 10 1 9 NW Applecross coast road, no woodland.
NG75 85 12 73 N Applecross, along Shieldaig road, woodland.
NG86 100 5 95 Upper Diabaig, woodland, Beinn Alligin.
NH91 70 10 60 Kintail, Shiel Bridge, Glen Shiel, 5 Sisters, woodland on A 87.
NG92 90 4 86 L Duich, Camas Luine, Strath Croe, Inverinate, woods on A 87.
NH00 20 0 20 Cluanie Forest, track S of Cluanie Lodge, no woodland.
NH01 50 2 48 Glen Shiel along A 87, Beinn Ffada (Attow), woods on A 87.
NH02 85 0 85 Track to Glomach Falls, woodland by Loch na Leitreach.
NH03 70 0 70 No obvious sites, mountainous, many tracks, all distant, no Munros.
NH07 100 0 100 Long tracks from Kinlochewe and Dundonnell, 3 Munros, little woodland E of Beinn a Chladheimh.
NH10 20 0 20 Inaccessible except via Cluanie Lodge in W. woods S of L. Cluanie.
NH11 20 1 19 A 87 W of Strath Cluanie, mountains to N, woods near road.
NH12 15 0 15 Inaccessible, land S of L. Mullardoch, little woodland.
NH13 50 7 43 Land S of L. Monar, ? accessible from Monar Dam via Strathfarrar.
NH14 95 0 95 Inaccessible other than by tracks from end of Strathconon or from Craig on A 890.
NH16 100 1 99 Mountains W of L. Fannich, 2 Munros, part accessible from A 832 in Strathbran, small area of woodland.
NH23 3 0 3 E and SE of Monar Dam, accessible via Strathfarrar, no woodland.
NH24 70 0 70 Around Monar Lodge, via Strathfarrar, 5 Munros, also from Inverchoran from Strathconon, some woodland at N access.
NH25 100 10 90 Strathconon and L. Beannacharain, woods by road and side valley.
NH34 30 1 29 S of Orrin Res. ?accessible from E end of Strathconon at Marybank.
NH38 100 0 100 Freevater & Trollmuick Forests, mountains, long tracks from Alladale Lodge and Strathvaich. No woodland.
NH47 100 5 95 Kildemore & Wyvis Forests, via Strath Rannoch (A 835)  in SW, or around Wyvis Lodge, via Glen Glass.
NH57 100 6 94 Strath Rusdale, Boath, woodland!
NH58 100 1 99 Forest SW of Oldtown, near Ardgay.
NH87 70 31 39 Loch Eye, Rhynie NR, Balintore, Hilton, Shandwick, Nigg, Fearn.

Please send records and/or dried specimens to me at the address below. Please do not use plastic wrapping – use plain paper – as fungal material reacts poorly with plastic.

Later stages of the survey will concentrate on unworked squares plus specialised habitats and substrates.

Many thanks.

Bruce Ing, Tigh na faoileige, Rhue, Ullapool, IV26 2TJ.


Whooper Swans near Fearn Aerodrome

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

A huge build up of Whooper Swans (Cygnus cygnus) at the moment in the Loch Eye area. 2726 counted today. Around 2400 are on the Clay of Allan, along with a Black Swan and lots of geese. Another 130 down towards Kildary and 190 near Portmahomack. Thanks to Bob for the info.

Whooper Swans near Nigg, Nov 2014Click image to view


Beached Pilot Whale – Tain Bay

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

A Long-finned Pilot Whale (Globicephala melas) stranded and died in Tain Bay on the afternoon of 25 October 2014.

Click image to viewThe whale was not able to be refloated and sent back to deep water.  An autopsy will hopefully provide some indication of why this whale stranded and died.




Mushroom with slug / worm eggs?

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

In a good year for mushrooms Chanterelles were a target for the menu on Wednesday, 27th August 2014.  After years of finding mushrooms this example turned up – not before seen by us here nor anywhere.

The black eggs are …… ?  There may be an answer at iSpot.

Chantarelle with Slug Eggs?  Or Worm Eggs?Click image to view



EDIT 30/08/2014: There are responses which indicate the black blob objects on the mushroom are a slime mold; iSpot likely belonging to the group Myxomycetes or plasmodial slime molds, possibly Leocarpus fragilis (1), (2), and elsewhere, astonishingly similar to Leocarpus: Trichia decipiens.

In 2012 I asked about ‘insect eggs’ in tree bark. Maybe that was a similar slime mold!

Keep checking this post to see if an answer emerges.

Leucistic Siskin

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Seen on several days by Russell, at Cartomi, Edderton; a Leucistic Siskin. Continue reading “Leucistic Siskin” »

2014, July, Noctilucent Clouds

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014, and other observers, predicted that Noctilucent Clouds may be visible in early July 2014. From Ardgay the evening sky “just looked right/promising”.

In the night of 7th July both Phil in Ardgay and Pat in Balintore were, for an unknown reason, looking at the northern sky and saw noctilucent clouds at about 01:30 +/-. The view was basically to the north, in Ardgay slightly eastward.

Here are their proofs:

2014, July 7 Noctilucent Clouds by Pat RaeClick image to view

2014, July 7 Noctilucent Clouds by Phil

Simplified Geometry for observing NLC’s

Noctilucent Cloud Sighting Geometry has this to say about Noctilucent Clouds:

NLCs are Earth’s highest clouds. Seeded by “meteor smoke,” they form at the edge of space 83 km above Earth’s surface. When sunlight hits the tiny ice crystals that make up these clouds, they glow electric blue.

In the northern hemisphere, July is the best month to see them. NLCs appear during summer because that is when water molecules are wafted up from the lower atmosphere to mix with the meteor smoke. That is also, ironically, when the upper atmosphere is coldest, allowing the ice crystals of NLCs to form.

The natural habitat of noctilucent clouds is the Arctic Circle. In recent years, however, they have spread to lower latitudes with sightings as far south as Utah and Colorado. This will likely happen in 2014 as well. Observing tips: Look west 30 to 60 minutes after sunset when the Sun has dipped 6o to 16o below the horizon. If you see blue-white tendrils zig-zagging across the sky, you may have spotted a noctilucent cloud.

It seems our ’sunset / sunrise’ lasts all night as far as seeing phenomena like noctilucent clouds.  It just remains for you be awake, there to be few obscuring clouds, and tiny ice crystals at just the right position between you and the sun.

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

2014 Aspen Catkins

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

It is not since 2010 that breeding Aspen has been seen locally – SEE HERE.  On April 14, 2014 a single Aspen was seen near Ardgay with a good display of male catkins.

2014 Aspen Male Flowers, ArdgayClick image to view

There are many Aspen stems in the area but none other than this one show any sign of catkin flowers.  It may be time to start noting whether any other Aspen will flower this year.

April 19; about 200m away from the Aspen stem above another showed signs of catkins (photo below).  These are female flowers and are so far restricted to only a few upper branches.

19 April 2014, Aspen with female catkinsClick image to view

19 April 2014, Aspen with female catkins19 April 2014, Aspen with female catkins, Ardgay

Russell has seen female Aspen flowers in Edderton, see below:

2014 Female Aspen Flowers at Edderton DSCF0095cClick image to view

2014 Female Aspen Flowers at Edderton, by Russell

Contact us if you see any flowering Aspen; take photos and note the date and location/grid reference.

2014, The February Sky

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

During February (at least) two interesting phenomena were seen in our skies.

In the evening of 27th February the notable aurora display seen over much of the UK was the stand-out evening sight this month!

Aurora 27 February, over the Struie Ridge #1


Click image to view

More regular, and predictable, was the silent, early morning conjunction of Venus and the Moon. A clearing in the southeastern sky was needed – and such clearings were rare.

Venus the morning starClick image to view


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


Sunday, October 20th, 2013

Earth is passing through a stream of debris from Halley’s Comet, source of the annual Orionid meteor shower.  Continue reading “ORIONID METEOR SHOWER” »

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” »

Perseid Meteors, August 2013

Saturday, August 10th, 2013
Despite the fuss the press is making the predictions are not for an outstanding display this year but the Perseids are always good even in an average year.
The best night should be Monday (12th) when there could be up to 100 per hour.
There is good information on the Armagh Observatory website:
You can also find details (among the adverts) at Meteor Watch:
And slightly more technical at:
This is an American site but gives details for all over the world – so make sure you are reading the northern hemisphere information!
Hoping for dark skies