Friday, 20 September 2013

Western Scotland

At the end of July my girlfriend and I set off on an ill-fated holiday to the Isle of Skye. We'd hired a car and the plan was to drive up at a leisurely pace and camp wherever we fancied. As it turned out the weather was not in our favour and we soon ran out of both steam and money and retreated south. As a result there wasn't much opportunity for botany.

Our first stop on the route north was the shores of Loch Lomond. A large patch of the common hybrid Stachys x ambigua was in full flower. Though not visible in the picture below the slightly stalked lanceolate leaves distinguish it from either parent. The delicate heads of Carum verticillatum were scattered about by the water with their distinctive whorled leaves.

Stachys x ambigua, 
W shore Loch Lomond, July 2013,

Carum verticillatum, 
W shore Loch Lomond, July 2013,

A little further north we stopped on the expanse of Rannoch Moor to poke about in the stony tarns. Lobelia dortmanna was flowering, its heads swaying about in the breeze. I puzzled over some very small Ranunculus flammula type plants in the hope of R. reptans or at least the hybrid but eventually gave up on them completely. Back by the car there were a few plants of Rumex longifolius. A common species in Scotland but one I'd only seen a couple of times before.

Lobelia dortmanna,
Loch Ba, NN 31 49, July 2013,

Rumex longifolius,
Near Loch Ba, NN 31 49, July 2013,

A short stop for lunch on the way down toward Glencoe provided the last of the dry weather and a nice sighting of a couple of Scotch Argus butterflies flitting about in a boggy patch by the river.

Scotch Argus (Erebia aethiops),
Near Glencoe, July 2013

The one full day we spent on Skye was so grim that we hardly dared leave the car. The one Skye 'speciality' that can be seen almost without leaving the car is the hybrid horsetail Equisetum x font-queri at its first know UK locality in a roadside ditch below the glowering cliffs and stacks of the Storr. This hybrid between E. palustre and E. telmateia has since been found in a number of other places in the UK. 

Equisetum x font-queri,
Rigg, Skye, July 2013

Equisetum x font-queri,
Rigg, Skye, July 2013

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