25 November 2014

Sustrans Cycle Track, Lettershuna to Lurignish

We parked in the big Lettershuna layby, from where a Sea Eagle was seen by those who arrived before I did.  We walked north up the cycle track as far as Polanach, by which time we felt very cold and somewhat peckish, so we cut across to the shore and warmed up with our sandwiches and flasks.  We then walked back along the shore to where the cycle track crosses the road, and then back along the track to the car park.

Petasites fragrans

It was a bit chilly for taking photos but we managed a few.  One objective of the walk was to see if we could add to the 355 plant species recorded along the cycle track so far.  We did this almost as soon as we set off (though we didn't realise it at the time) with Winter Heliotrope which formed large patches on the trackside banks in the section between the layby and where the track crosses the road.  This was cycle track plant no. 356.

Donald Hutchison, who first spotted the Heliotrope, also pointed out some withered Yellow Toadflax (Linaria vulgaris) which he'd noticed in flower earlier in the season.

Primula vulgaris   Hygrocybe psittacina

Cynthia spotted these very early Primrose flowers.  I'm unable to photograph primroses without making either the flowers white or everything else almost black, and even this poor effort is the result of much colour manipulation in Gimp.

Jan found this very glutinous waxcap on the unusual habitat of a moss-covered rocky bank.  It turned out to be the Parrot Waxcap, though with no hint of green.  Later on we found the Cedarwood Waxcap on coastal turf.  But with December on the horizon, fungi are rapidly disappearing and our attention will have to turn to lichens...

Cladonia chlorophaea s.l.   Lobaria pulmonaria

Cladonia chlorophaea s.l. on soil and the familiar Lobaria pulmonaria on one of the old willows which are frequent along the route of the track (particularly where it follows the old railway) and have a rich lichen flora.

Erithacus rubecula

I wonder if this Robin was feeling as cold as we were.

Littorina saxatilis agg.   Unknown caterpillar

With hands warmed by her thermos, Sallie took this nice pic of a Rough Periwinkle that shared our lunch spot.  The caterpillar on the Sea Mayweed flower probably can't be identified with certainty.  My best guess is Black Rustic.

Tuberolachnus salignus   Tuberolachnus salignus

I was pleased to find colonies of Giant Willow Aphids on a couple of Grey Willows by the shore.  They are much more abundant than usual this year and I've made them our December Species of the Month in the hope of putting some dots on the Argyll map while we have the chance.  The Species of the Month page has links to some very interesting reads about this mysterious creature, and has much better photos than these.  The aphids form dark patches on the underside of willow branches, so at the best of times they're going to be dark items against a dark background photographed in shade, and a dull day like this makes it even worse.

The first Willow Jelly Button of the year was found on the same willow as the first lot of aphids.

Unknown mushroom

An unknown mushroom found in shore turf.

Here is a list of the fungi identified from the walk, in order of appearance.

Xylaria hypoxylon
Hygrocybe psittacina
Exidia nucleata
Hypholoma fasciculare
Stereum hirsutum
Trametes versicolor
Coprinellus micaceus
Hygrocybe russocoriacea
Exidia recisa
Crepidotus mollis
Parrot Waxcap
Crystal Brain Fungus
Sulphur Tuft
Hairy Curtain Crust
Turkey Tails
Glistening Ink-cap
Cedarwood Waxcap
Willow Jelly Button
Peeling Oysterling

There were also some interesting Stereum sp. (possibly more than one species) on Rhododendron which I intend to go back and look at some time.


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This project is supported by Scottish Natural Heritage

All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer except where stated.  Some photos on this page are Cynthia Grindley, Sallie Jack and Jan Hamilton.