Observations from Assynt for 2009 (in date order)
1.4: dark swordgrass moth (Baddidarach, LF; immigrant species). 11.4: bar-tailed godwit (Culkein Stoer, GR). 13.4: golden eagle (over Lochan Mhic Leoid, GR). 15.4: frogs (at 650m on Quinag, GS). 18.4: cuckoo (Ordain, EG). 19.4: hawfinch (Ardvar, MP). 21.4: barn owl (pellet, Rientraid, DM; contained three field voles). 24.4: swallow (Ardvar, IME). 25.4: grasshopper warbler (Lochinver, AS). 26.4: two scaup (Loch an Aigel, HG). 28.4: common sandpiper (Loch Drumbeg, IME). 30.4: lesser duckweed Lemna minor (pond, Drumbeg, NM/IME; 2nd record for West Sutherland).
2.5: timber longhorn beetle Rhagium mordax (Lochinver, PR). 2.5: hawfinch (Inver Park, DC). 9.5: gannets (fishing in Loch Nedd, IME). 10.5: ground beetle Amara ovata (garden, Nedd, IME; 1st record for north of Scotland). 11.5: oil beetle Meloe violaceus and large red damselfly (Allt Poll an Droighinn, JJ). 12.5: speckled wood (Nedd, PJG). 13.5: wood warbler (Glen Leireag, RS). 13.5: dung beetle Geotrupes vernalis (dunes, Achmelvich, AG) and orange-tip (Recharn, AS). 16.5: larvae or exuviae of common blue, large red and blue-tailed damselflies, four-spotted chaser, golden-ringed dragonfly and common hawker, leech Glossiphonia complanata, freshwater sponge Ephydatia mulleri (AFC field meeting, Lochs Uidh na Geadaig and Beannach, led by Jonathan Willet). 18.5: four common scoter (Stoer lighthouse, DH). 18.5: narrow-leaved helleborine (170+ spikes, Achmelvich road, PAE/IME). 22.5: tea-leaved willow Salix phylicifolia (large bush on Oykel Bridge road, near Stratheskie, Easter Ross, PAE/IME; as yet unknown in Assynt). 26.5: early purple orchid, moonwort (roadside, Creag an Fhithich, Clashnessie, GR; new localities for both). 27.5: iceland gull (Achmelvich, TL-J) and aspens with prolific female flowers (Achins, Inverkirkaig, AD; regrettably, none set seed). 30.5: painted lady (Kerrachar, PK; first of an invasion; more at Drumbeg and Stoer, 31.5, AM and HG) and leaf beetle Chrysolina staphylaea (Clashnessie, IME; 1st record for Assynt). 30.5: Over 100 common dolphin (Clachtoll, JG).
8.6: sand sedge Carex arenaria (garden ground, Balchadich, IM/IME; very unusual away from sand dunes). 15.6: stonewort Nitella flexilis flexilis (garden pond, Lochinver, JC/IME). 17.6: spotted flycatcher (Brackloch, AS). 17.6: coronet moth (Baddidarach, LF). 27.6: Around 200 common dolphin (Clachtoll, AS). 28.6: dunlin, ringed plover (with chick), golden-striped sawfly Abia sericea, moonwort (AFC field meeting, Cam Loch, led by IME). 30.6: common crossbill (Culkein Stoer, AB).
2.7: basking shark (Stoer lighthouse, AS). 4.7: fungus beetle Ropalodontus perforatus (in house, Drumbeg, GJ/IME; had emerged from fruiting bodies of horse’s hoof fungus Fomes fometarius; very rare, previously unknown in Scotland north of Glen Affric). 7.7: sixteen ptarmigan (Suilven, AS). 8.7: crossbill (male, Clashmore, SG). 11.7: common swift (Balchladdich, DH). 11.7: hawthorn shieldbug (Nedd, in spider’s web, IME; 1st record for Assynt). 13.7: slavonian grebe (Culkein Drumbeg, DH). 13.7: osprey (over Loch Urigill, NCC/SCC). 17.7: giant woodwasp or horntail (Achins, Inverkirkaig, AD; another at Nedd, 9.8, HB). 19.7: galls of mite Phyllocoptes populi on aspen (Ardroe, GR/IME; 1st time seen in Assynt). 30.7: pillwort Pilularia globulifera (aquatic fern, huge stand at Loch Borralan, PAE/IME).
3.8: minke whale (Badnaban, AD). 6.8: basking shark (Achmelvich TW). 16.8: larvae of iron prominent and coxcomb prominent moths, birch-leaf cones made by weevil Deporaus betulae, little black puddings (galls on bracken), silky piggyback Asterophora parasitica (gill fungus parasitic on other fungi) and many other insects (AFC field meeting, Kirkaig valley, led by Stephen Moran; list in preparation). 29.8: scarlet caterpillar fungus Cordyceps militaris (Lairig Unapool, JM); hybrid hard shield x holly fern Polystichum x illyricum (plentiful, Stronechrubie, BPS; one of only two known localities in Britain). 30.8: 120 Twite (Clachtoll, AS). 30.8: Issler’s clubmoss Diphasiastrum x issleri (lower slopes of Canisp, BPS; largest stand in Britain).
3.9: deathcap fungus Amanita phalloides (garden, Nedd, IME). 8.9: Brent Geese (Culkein Stoer, DM). 16.9: Clitocybe alexandri (garden, Strathan, CC; Mediterranean gill fungus, occurring occasionally in the south of England, probably new to Scotland, identified by Bruce Ing; may have been introduced with mushroom spawn).
Thanks to all those from and visiting Assynt who have contributed observations, and to experts who have identified material. They include: Henry Blaney, members of the British Pteridological Society, Nick and Struan Candlish, Clarinda Chant, David Cook, Jimmy Crooks, Alec Dickson, Ian and Pat Evans, Lyn Fairchild, James Galway, Erica Gorman, Steward Grant, Howard Grey, Peter and Ann Grubb, David Haines, Julian Jacobson, Gill Jeffcott, Peter Kohn, Tina Lloyd-Jenkins, Arthur Maclean, Duncan May, James Merryweather, Nancy Millar, Margaret Payne, Gwen Richards, Pat Robertson, Gordon Sleight, Andy and Roz Summers, Tim Whiteley. Those mentioned above are only a selection of ones received; apologies to anyone whose observations have been omitted. Please send your sightings to firstname.lastname@example.org. It is very helpful if unusual observations, or ones from out-of-the-way places, are accompanied by a 4-figure grid reference e.g. NC1332.