Sat 13 July 2013

LNHG walk to Port na Moralachd, Lismore

The call to action ran as follows:

Our next walk is on Saturday 13 July on the Isle of Lismore. We will be catching the 10 a.m. ferry from Port Appin. Please arrive in good time to make sure you get a parking space. There is a ferry car park but it can get full in which case you have to go back a bit and find somewhere to park beside the road which is easy enough. I can give lifts from Taynuilt, Connel, etc.

This is an all-day field trip and we will not be passing any cafes, pubs or shops on the island so please bring enough food to keep you going.

The intention is to walk quickly through the Port Ramsay and Fennachrochan area which has been well worked owing to its proximity to the ferry. Once past Fennachrochan we will be in unexplored territory and can stop and look around. This is limestone country and we can expect to see plants that we've not encountered on our walks before. We will be looking particularly for Small Cow-wheat and Rock Whitebeam. We will also pay close attention to any Fragrant Orchids, as this former species has been split into 3: the common one which we see here on our acid soils, and 2 rare ones which occur in calcareous ground. If the latter are going to be found anywhere in Argyll it will surely be on Lismore, so perhaps we will make botanical history.

At the moment the forecast for Saturday is dry with sunny spells and a moderate breeze to keep the midges away.

The weather turned out to be superb with lots of sun and no midges, though there were a few clegs, of which those examined turned out to be Haematopotus pluvialis, the Notch-horned Cleg.

Thanks to all for walking briskly to Fennachrochan as planned so as to give us a fair amount of time at Port na Moralachd.  We did not find Small Cow-wheat, but Rock Whitebeam was spotted by Heather Chaplin, and as an unexpected bonus we found Broad-leaved Helleborine.


Rock Whitebeam in typically inaccessible position, with close-ups of a freshly-fallen leaf that was found below it.


Broad-leaved Helleborine, about to flower.  Three plants of it were found in in the dense shade of the Celtic Rainforest, or hazel scrub as it is known to the uninitiated.  This orchid was recorded in the same 1 km square in 1994, but with no details of the exact location.  It is not known from anywhere else on the island.




As mentioned in the introduction, we examined lots of Fragrant Orchids and soon established that the common kind on the mainland, Heath Fragrant Orchid, was even commoner on Lismore.  The one in the photo above was the closest we came to either of the rarer kinds.  It has unusually narrow wings, but the lip shape is characteristic of Heath Fragrant Orchid, and the best we can say is that it may be a hybrid which would indicate that one of the other species is lurking out there somewhere.


The Grayling (right) is supposed to be the master of camouflage against lichen-covered rocks, but here the Large Heath (left) is making a much better job of it.  The NBN shows no previous Lismore records for Large Heath.  It is normally associated with acid bogs but its food-plant, Harestail Cotton-grass, is plentiful in this part of the island.  We also saw a couple of Small Heath.


Left: a pair of Meadow Brown butterflies on Ragged Robin.

Above: Peacock butterfly caterpillar on Nettle

The most frequent butterfly seen was Common Blue but I didn't take a photo of these, perhaps someone else who was on the walk can supply one.



Above: Map-winged Swift found by Eric in the grass.

Right: Yellow Shell.



Drinker Moth.  In Spring their caterpillars seem to spend all day at rest on rush or grass stems, and here the adult moth is doing the same.


While waiting for the ferry back to the mainland, I found some Hop Trefoil, a new record for Lismore.

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All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer except where stated