Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Botanising In Scotland Part 1: North Coast

Back in late July we spent a week botanising in Scotland. We covered a lot of ground and saw many species of wild flowers, far too much to get on one bog post so I'm going to put up several installments. There will also be a few insects, fungi and even a bird or two.

This is the most northerly Farm in mainland Britain and that's Orkney off in the distance and what better place to find this.

Northern Dead Nettle - Lamium confertum

This was just a bonus, because what we were here for was hopefully on the beach nearby, namely Oyster Plant. This is a plant I've been wanting to see for many years and I wasn't disappointed either it's really beautiful. I took loads of photos of it and it was one of those plants that once found, I found it hard to tear myself away from! I just kept looking at it in awe. It's really rare these days having disappeared from Wales and some of its Scottish sites too. We had already failed to find it at a site further south.

Oyster Plant - Mertensia maritima

From the beach there's a great view over to Dunnet Head the most Northerly point of the mainland. 
It's a great place to watch seabirds and I was hoping to get some nice photos there.

It was a beautiful warm July day as you can see!
It was also blowing a hoolie and there was no chance of getting any photos of Puffins as they were traveling at about a zillion miles an hour! It was a bit gloomy too but I got a couple of okay shots of...

A Great Skua.


And a Fulmar.

We visited Strathy Point looking for Scottish Primrose. Unfortunately grazing pressure at the site was intense and all we found was a single plant which hadn't entirely escaped the attention of the sheep either. Still it was thrilling to see this tiny, charming and rare endemic species. 

Scottish Primrose - Primula scotica

A Blonde Rabbit! 
First time I've ever seen this colour form of wild rabbit. I've seen a few black ones before but never a blonde one.

Further along the coast is the absolutely superb site of Invernaver NNR. It has an amazing collection of montane vegetation almost at sea level, due to the high latitude and exposure to the north coast, including the rare Purple Oxytropis. We were much too late in the year to expect to see either Purple Oxytropis or Mountain Avens in flower but were extremely lucky to find late flowering plants of both! We found a few more mountain flowers and some interesting fungi too.

Invernaver Nature Reserve. 

Dune Waxcap - Hygrocybe conicoides  

Lurid Bolete - Suillellus luridus

Mountain Avens - Dryas octopetala

Mountain Avens seedhead.

 Yellow Mountain Saxifrage - Saxifraga aizoides

Dwarf Juniper - Juniperus communis ssp. nana

Hoary Whitlowgrass - Draba incana.

Dark Red Helleborine - Epipactis atrorubens

Purple Oxytropis - Oxytropis halleri 

The rocks have eyes!! 
I think this is known as mantled porphyroclasts. They look like they could be garnets.


Mick Lacey said...

A superb post, all of your photos are good, but the Mountain Avens ones are truly excellent.

Nigel said...

Love this blog Karen. We spend a lot of time in Orkney, and last year also had a 4-day drive around the north and west Scottish coast, but I don't think I've noticed half of what you recorded!

JRandSue said...

Amazing post Karen,love your wild flower images,and your Fungi shots are superb.

Karen Woolley said...

Thanks for kind comments guys, much appreciated :-)