Saturday, 6 August 2016

The Hebridean Recording Team Strikes Back!

Nitella confervacea
from Loch Arnol, Lewis
Image: C. Ferguson-Smyth
Today is the final day of the Shetland Recording Week and botanists are heading home having broken a few records, filled in a fair few Atlas 2020 recording cards and seen some interesting species. Meanwhile, over on the isle of Lewis, Paul Smith and his team have been notching up a few successes of their own. Over to Paul:

"While the rest of the world is working on a macro scale, things have been more micro-level here. 

"Claudia Ferguson-Smyth has been rewarded for many hours effort throwing a grapnel in various lochs with some nice charophyte records. 

"The Outer Hebrides usually have Chara virgata and Nitella translucens in moorland and peaty lochs, but some of the lochs on the NW side of Lewis are on machair, and have yielded Chara contraria and Chara aspera. Meanwhile, BSBI President John Faulkner and Notts. botanist Mags Crittenden managed to find Chara vulgaris in flushed machair at Barvas (a habitat it seems to like in vc110).  

"But star of the show is the minuscule [LM: and rarely recorded] Nitella confervacea which Claudia trawled up from Loch Arnol (BSBI aquatics expert Nick Stewart says it looks like the balls of wool you pull off your favourite jumper). It's so small that you're not supposed to be able to find it except by accident, so full marks to Claudia both for looking and recognising it. And she took the superb picture (above) - the whole thing that you can see is only 5.7mm long.

Anthracoidea limosa
Image: P. Smith
 "Having warmed everyone up with four Anthracoidea smuts on Carex and Trichophorum, today had more excitement as one of the Lost and Found Fungi put in an appearance - I prompted News & Views readers to look out for it, and I have followed my own advice! 

"This one is Anthracoidea limosa on Carex limosa, otherwise known from Rannoch Moor and one site in West Sutherland. And I didn't have to explain to anyone that I was looking for smuts, although I did need my trusty wellies..."

This year's Hebridean Recording Party has another week to run so watch this space for further updates.