‘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

Great Northern Diver

four birds, Loch Dhrombaig (DAH) (19/02)

Harbour Porpoise

two animals off Bay of Clachtoll (DAH) (13/02)

Redshank

three birds, Bay of Culkein (DAH) (13/02)

Curlew

15 birds flying between Stoer and Clachtoll (DAH) (13/02)

Pygmy Shrew - skull in owl pellet

skull of Pygmy Shrew, along with those of two Field Voles, found after examination of probable Tawny Owl pellet, Clachtoll Peat Track, Creag Clais nan Cruineachd (Gwen Richards and Ian Evans) (13/02)

Otter

single animal in Loch Inver opposite Spar shop (Ian and Jane Young) (12/02)

Barn Owl

single bird near Loch an Ordain, Clachtoll (Yates family) (12/02)

Stoat

single animals in Achnacarnin (Pam Mackenzie) and Raffin (Hilary Richardson) (11/02)

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