More things in a small area

November 16th 2021

More things in a small area

You probably know by now how much we love finding a few things in a small area, well we’ve been at it again. This time, on 20th June 2021, we visited the area immediately around what is often referred to as Oldany estuary.

Having wandered a good half metre from the car we spotted a Goat Willow, Salix caprea and it immediately provided three subjects. First thing we spotted was a Lacehopper (probably Cixius cunicularius). Next were some leaves covered with galls, and finally the tree’s fruit bodies waiting to disperse seed. It was really the few strands of backlit spider’s web on the last one that caught our eye.

The stunningly intricate Lacehopper allowed us to take four photos, and then it literally disappeared before our eyes. Many of the ‘hopper’ species of bugs have this amazing ability to jump, and it’s their defence mechanism. We never saw it again.

The galls still remain simply ‘unidentified galls’ at the moment. Galls are an unusual growth of plant cells and are often caused by an insect which has deposited an egg on/in the plant. At the same time as laying its egg(s) the insect secrets chemicals which cause the plant to rapidly produce abnormal cells. The gall then protects the larva as it develops.

What drew us to the tree initially were its fruits as they looked like rows of jester’s hats. Yes, we know, we must get out more!

The tide was almost full as we left the tree so we sat and watched as the Thrift was being slowly marooned on the estuary’s mud.

We were in turn being watched by a circling juvenile Great Black-backed Gull. There is no denying the beauty of this bird’s first set of clothes.

DnA Haines

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Recent Sightings

Kestrel

Single bird hovering between road and waterfall, Clashnessie (Neil McCrimmon) (26/11)

Fieldfare and Redwing

A mixed flock of c30 fieldfare and c10 redwing in tall aspens, Nedd (Ian Evans). Mixed flock of 200+ birds over Culkein Drumbeg (DAH) (23/11)

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Single bird by River Inver, Brackloch (Carol Langford) (22/11)

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Single hen bird in back garden, Nedd (Ian Evans).  Rarely seen in this part of Assynt (21/11)

Great Northern Diver

Single bird, Bay of Stoer (John Gilbertson) (21/11)

Redwing and Fieldfare

c80 birds in a mixed flock flying over the B869 by Rhicarn (Richard Chappell and Ennis Jones) (20/11)

Dipper

Single bird in tree overhanging river Inver, Little Assynt (Richard Chappell and Ennis Jones) (20/11)

Kestrel

Single bird hovering by roadside, Inchnadamph (Richard Chappell and Ennis Jones) (20/11)

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