‘British soldiers’ at Ardroe 

December 30th 2017

One of the joys about winter walks in Assynt is that, with the dying-back of many ‘higher plants’, other forms of life, such as lichens, come into sharper focus.

A perfect way to illustrate the point is this colourful example of the large genus Cladonia, of which some sixty species are known to occur in the British Isles and at least a third of that number in Assynt.  According to their form they are variously known as ‘reindeer moss’ or ‘pixie cups’, and a sub-set of the latter, with bright red ‘fruits’ (properly apothecia), as ‘British soldiers’.

This specimen was spotted on the exposed peat of an old tree-planting hole at Ardroe (NC0622) and was later identified as an example of the widespread heathland species Cladonia diversa.  It was only a few centimetres across, but stood out against the dark peat and had a jewel-like quality close-up.

Ian Evans

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Recent Sightings

Kittiwake

c100 adult and 1st-winter birds feeding off Clachtoll (DAH) (24/09)

Tufted Duck

two male birds on Loch Drumbeg (DAH) (22/09)

Merlin

single bird near Stoer Village Hall (DAH) (21/09)

UPDATE on colour-ringed Oystercatcher

we have heard back from the Icelandic Wader Group regarding the colour-ringed Oystercatcher spotted at Bay of Culkein on Tuesday. It was ringed, as an adult, near its nest while it was territory-guarding on 19th May this year; the location was Eskifjorour which is on the east coast of Iceland. We will post a short article on the Field Club's website in the next few days regarding other sightings of colour-ringed birds recorded in Assynt (DAH) (20/09)

Pink-footed Goose

c225, in four skeins, heading east over Culkein Drumbeg (DAH). Oh boy, it's autumn! (20/09)

Wigeon

single male in eclipse plumage Loch Inver (DAH) (20/09)

Manx Shearwater

young bird rescued from a garden at Inchnadamph (Chris Rix/Andy Summers). The bird, which was well off-course, was successfully released at Stoer the next day. (18/09)

Oystercatcher

four birds resting on rocks Bay of Culkein (DAH). One of these birds, an adult, had a combination of coloured rings on its legs. The details have been submitted to the appropriate ringing scheme, which appears to be the International Wader Study Group, and we will report back once we hear from them. (18/09)

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