Shepherd’s weather-glass – not much use in Assynt?

July 10th 2018

Plants ‘new’ to Assynt are usually few and far between, but we had at least three during spring 2018.  The apocryphal resemblance to London buses extends to the bright red colour of one of them.

Back in May, Norma Brown of Clachtoll mentioned, to my delight, that scarlet pimpernel Anagallis arvensis was a ‘weed’ in her garden (NC0427).  It had not been knowingly introduced by her, and had been present for several years.  The only previous records of this plant I can locate from anywhere in Sutherland are historic ones, at Rosehall in 1890 and Brora in 1893.

This winter-annual or short-lived perennial is a common arable or garden weed throughout England and Wales.  However, it is not usually found far from the coast in Scotland and is scarce in the Highlands, although it does occur on both the Inner and Outer Hebrides.

It has a wealth of vernacular names, many related either to the fact that the flowers open about 8 a.m and close about 3 p.m. or, like the Scottish one above, that they also close in humid or wet weather.  Be that it may, we were pleased to see a splendid spread of scarlet pimpernel in Norma’s garden on 5thJune, when these pictures were taken.

Two other ‘new’ species recently recorded locally are danish scurvygrass Cochlearia danica, found by Andy Amphlett on 13thMay opposite the Village Hall in Lochinver (NC0922) and tuberous comfrey Symphytum tuberosum, found by Gwen Richards and myself not far away on 5thJune, whilst we were searching for the scurvygrass.

The first was formerly restricted to coastal areas, but is now an abundant salt-tolerant ‘weed’ of road margins all over the British Isles, although less common in the north.  The second is a sturdy native perennial with pale yellow flowers, widespread in damp habitats in central and eastern Scotland and, as an alien, scattered in disturbed habitats elsewhere.  It is not very showy, but may have originated here at Lochinver as a garden throw-out.

Ian M. 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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