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
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
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
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.
All photos and other content
copyright © Carl Farmer except where stated