‘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


single animal still in full ermine Clachtoll (DAH) (16/03)


14 flying over Clachtoll (DAH) (16/03)


single bird feeding on Stoer Green (DAH) (16/03)

Ringed Plover

eight feeding on Stoer Green (DAH) (16/03)


25 flying around Culkein Stoer (Lesley Sleight and Annella Bulch) (14/03)

Meadow Pipit

20 feeding on grazing land around old cemetery Stoer (Bill and Val Badger) (14/03)

Black-throated Diver

single bird on Maiden Loch near Clachtoll (Paul Burnett) (13/03)


10+ clumps in road ditch Pollachapuill road, Culkein Drumbeg (Ian Evans). One clump was frosted indicating it had possibly been in situ since the last night of minus temperatures which was 9th/10th March. (13/03)