‘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

Goldfinch

c20 birds on garden trees, Drumbeg (Nancy Millar) (17/01)

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Two separate reports of birds using peanut and fat ball feeders in gardens at almost opposite ends of Assynt. Single bird on peanut feeder, Elphin (Rosie Christmas) Single bird on fat ball feeder, Culkein Drumbeg (Carol Langford) (17/01)

Goldcrest

Single bird foraging under garden feeders, Torbreck (Jack Wright) (14/01)

Dipper

Three birds on River Inver opposite Little Assynt Tree Nursery (DAH). At least one of these birds was singing. (12/01)

Goldeneye

Pair of birds, Loch Assynt, opposite Bad nam Carbad. (Ian Evans and Gwen Richards) (12/01)

Otter

Two animals observed playing and feeding for c.20 minutes, Loch Inver (Dave McBain) (12/01)

Goldcrest

Two birds foraging on the ground, Culag Woods (DAH) (12/01)

Treecreeper

Single bird foraging, Culag Woods (DAH) (12/01)

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