These long wands of silvery catkins, turning yellow as they open, are the male flowers of osier or basket willow Salix viminalis. The open flowers were buzzing with bees when I photographed them at Nedd (NC1331) on 8th April 2015.
Scattered old osiers, often large and with split trunks, are found around the coast in Assynt, more rarely inland, but always near human habitation. They were probably planted to use in making fish creels and peat baskets, though I suspect not in living memory. Later in the year, osiers may be distinguished from other willows by their long, narrow leaves, which are silky-hairy beneath. Two questions for the curious: are all our osiers male, and has anyone ever seen a seedling?
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single male Loch Neil Bhain (DAH). This is only the third Assynt record of this species. Photo - Gallery Birds (19/05)
three adult birds and one chick, Loch Neil Bhain (DAH) (19/05)
two birds near Culkein Drumbeg jetty (DAH). Photo - Gallery Birds (19/05)
four animals off Stoerhead Lighthouse (DAH) (19/05)
15+ birds on offshore island Culkein Drumbeg (DAH) (19/05)
pair still present Oldany estuary area (DAH) (19/05)
at least four birds on grazing land Balchladich (Janet French) (18/05)
both a dark and a pale morph bird off Stoerhead Lighthouse (Mal Edwards) (17/05)