Lichens - Western Isles wildlife, birds, plants, mammals, moths, butterflies


Curracag have a Facebook Group which has information about latest wildlife sightings around the Western Isles. The group is also great for news about events discussion and/or help on identification. The information posted is accessible to all and if you would like to post you can join the group easily.

The group can be found at Curracag Facebook Group

See a selection of the latest posts:-

Found today on Liniclate Beach, north end access after the campsite. I originally thought young Risso's, somebody else said Harbour Porpoise. I took Mary Harman to have a look and what an education that was. She immediately knew it was a recently born Long Finned Pilot whale. From Mary, the marks on the body are natal folds, where it was curled up in the womb, she thinks its a female. There is still evidence of the umbilical cord, the tail is still scrunched up and there are a few small whiskers on its face which Mary was really excited to see. Mary took a sample and measurements and I dragged it above the tideline. More photos if required. ...

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Don't know much about Fungii but thought this looked different ...

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Curracag Talk - Tonight
7.30pm Lews Castle College, Lionacleit, Benbecula

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Christine Johnson has posted a link to the OHBR website in the comments thread on frogs which states the following ~

“Since the last ice age and the arrival of man in Britain almost all new species of terrestrial animals, plants and fungi that have become established have been brought here by man, either intentionally or accidentally. These are all non-native species”

That has been the conventional view of the natural history of the outer Hebrides for the last fifty years and more.

Quite a bit of evidence has now come to light which suggests otherwise.

Below is a summary of an analysis of tree pollen in mud cores extracted from the beds of two western isles lochs.

The western isles is in fact the only place in the British isles, as far as I know, to have yielded a continuous record of tree pollen before, during and since the Younger Dryas, the cold era in which an ice sheet grew again on the mainland, centred on Rannoch moor, from around 12,700 to 11,500 years ago. I believe such evidence could be found in Ireland. As far as I know it has not yet come to light.

No evidence is found of pine or birch pollen in that time on what is now mainland Britain. So the pollen found in these lochs is highly unlikely to have blown in from anywhere else.

In fact, after the Younger Dryas, when the last Ice Age was finally over for good, the earliest evidence of pine on the Scottish mainland has been found in the northwest, across the Minch from here, almost certainly from seeds carried on the prevailing winds from somewhere out here. My leading suspect would be the deep sheltered glen which is now Loch Seaforth. The sea was still around 50 metres lower then.

If what was for a long time one giant Western Isle, stretching from Barra to the Butt and almost as far west as St Kilda, maintained woodland in a milder, moister climate than the mainland throughout the Younger Dryas, that obviously also has profound implications for what might be considered native in our animal life.

It would explain how the slow worm got here, for example ; why pine marten bones have been found in an Iron Age site on Uist ; why hare bones are found in the lowest levels of the bone midden at Toe Head by Northon, estimated as much as 9,000 years old ; and why recent analysis of the DNA of red deer in the western isles showed them to come from a different lineage than the red deer of the mainland and inner Hebrides including Skye.

A similar DNA distinction has been seen between Irish and mainland stoats and otters. The DNA of our pygmy shrews and those of Ireland tells a similar story by comparison with those of the mainland.

The alternative possibility is that after the Ice first melted away, when land stretched continuously from here to Iberia, life migrated north up the western coastlands. In time, as the colossal continental ice sheets melted, the rising sea drove life to the higher ground which became the Western Isle and Ireland, where it survived the Younger Dryas. After the rapid warming which brought the Younger Dryas to a close, life was free to come north across Europe from its other Ice Age refuge in Italy and the Balkans, closely related members of the same species who had hung out through the Last Glacial Maximum in two refuges in far southern Europe, separated long enough to develop subtly different DNS signatures, like the red deer of Harris and Skye.

The map below was posted by Prof. Jamie Woodward, an Ice Age specialist, on twitter last year. The date of 16,000 years ago conforms with the most recent estimates of the Britice project.

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Lichens - Western Isles wildlife, birds, plants, mammals, moths, butterflies