Tuesday 17 June 2014

Flora's Flora Group spots... a golden eagle!

Myrica gale Bog Myrtle in flower, Uist 2014
Image: F. Donald
Great to hear from Flora Donald on South Uist about their local botany group, formed after Flora met Paul Smith, the VC Recorder for the Outer Hebrides, and his team on South Uist last summer at a Bioblitz on the island

Flora says "The Uist Botany Group has had three field meetings so far, so I thought I should send you a quick update of what we’ve being doing!" [LM: Note that Flora didn't call the group Uist Flora Group, to avoid any hint of megalomania!]

"Our first foray was out to the old plantation at Loch Druidibeg in mid April. The season takes a while to get kick started in the Uists so we were worried that there wouldn’t be much to see - but we soon found colourful patches of Viola riviniana and V. palustris and the wonderfully scented Myrica gale in full flower to cheer us up. We also discovered two bushes of Juniperus communis which have grown up now the area is protected from grazers by an enclosure.

Flora (in peaked cap) and some of Paul Smith's
Hebrides Recording Team 2013
Image: L. Marsh
"All of the participants in botany group meetings are multi-talented and have a wide range of interests, including mosses, fungi, birds, moths and beetles to name but a few. So we can’t help but come back from botanical meetings with a couple of records of other things to send to our local biological recording group

"Our second meeting was held out at Allt Bholagair SSSI which yielded sightings of a large red damselfly, moss carder bees and a golden eagle as we walked out towards it. For most of you, the idea of visiting a gorge which hosts some naturally regenerating woodland probably isn’t particularly exciting but for us it’s quite novel! We were able to have a squint at plants which we very rarely get to see otherwise: Populus tremula, Allium ursinum, Fragaria vesca, Oxalis acetosella and Teucrium scorodonia". [LM: Southern members may smile at the casual mention of the Golden Eagle, compared to excitement generated by Wild Garlic and Wood Sorrel!]

Platanthera bifolia on South Uist 2013
Image: L. Gravestock
"Last weekend we had our third trip out in South Uist, covering a small section of coast bordering the South ford (separates South Uist from Benbecula). It was a lovely warm day and the season is now in full swing so we returned with our fullest recording card yet! The stars of the show were undoubtedly the orchids - we’re still scratching our heads a bit with some of them but are confident with Platanthera bifolia, Dactylorhiza incarnata subsp. coccinea and Dactylorhiza maculata.

Flora closes "Keep an eye on the VC110 and the Uist Botany Group Facebook pages for details of upcoming meetings and please come join us on an excursion whether you’re a resident or just passing through!" 

Viola riviniana on Uist
Image: F. Donald
Many thanks to Flora for this report on Uist botanising and for reminding us that it's always a good idea, if you are visiting another part of Britain or Ireland this year, to contact the VC Recorder or the local botany group and find out if there are any field meetings happening, or enquire about good sites to visit (and any to avoid). 

And our county recording cards - found by scrolling down to the bottom of our Resources page - will help you record the plants most likely to be seen in that county. Don't forget to send your card, once it is filled in, to the VC Recorder. And please follow Flora's lead and send any records of other wildlife that you see to the local Records Centre. 

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