Thursday, 28 August 2014

Sea Kale (Crambe maritima): Third for Shetland 24/08/2014

On Sunday I was hunting around a beach at Seafield, Lerwick with my Granny looking for birds and the odd bit of seaside life.
One strange thing I came across though was what looked like a Cabbage plant, but not like the usually cabbage plants because this one was sea green, I shouted my Granny over and we didn't have much idea but she suggested "Sea Kale", I had no idea what it was or what a Sea Kale was and so all I could do was say possibly and that was the end of that.

But after the day had ended and I was looking online, I came across a photo of Sea Kale that had been posted by Mike Pennington and this represented the second record for Shetland!!! (Found by Babara Priest on Unst).
Now this plant looked very much like my one, but mine a bit more bold. I thought to myself, could this be the same specie? I left a comment saying that I had found one that looked like Sea Kale or a similar specie and then I left it at that for the time being.
One thing that came to mind was that I would need a photo to confirm if it WAS a Sea Kale, one problem, I wouldn't be in the Mainland for the next two weeks and who knows what could happen to the plant in that time.
I decided that I needed someone to help with this so I sent Paula Moss a message asking if she could have a look the next time she was in Lerwick (which was the 26th!) and she said she would!
So the 26th came and halfway through the day I got a text saying that she'd found it and along with that text came a photo, it was my plant! that night Paula sent it to me online and I stuck it on the same status as the Sea Kale and I waited for a confirmation.
On the 27th I was in Unst so I was out of phone signal for most of the day but on the next morning (the 28th) I got a text from Paul Harvey asking me where my Kale-like plant was, I gave Paul the location and around mid afternoon I got a text from him saying-

"Well done Logan that's only the third record of sea kale for Shetland".

Yes!! my suspicions were right! I had found the third and only Sea Kale plant to be record in the Shetland Isles! I have to say it was a really lucky find! (and my rarest find yet!).

Afterwards I checked online and I'd gotten a reply to my Sea Kale photo from Mike Pennington.

"Well done, Logan. It is another Sea Kale. Paul Harvey of the Shetland BRC and Walter Scott, THE Shetland Botanist, went to see it this afternoon. It was a new Shetland plant for Walter!"

To think that my find was good enough to visited by probably the greatest Shetland Botanist! and it was his first one on Shetland!

The previous record of Sea Kale was found in Cunningsburgh in roughly 1991 by T.Angus, luckily it was photographed by the finder before it was turned into a stump by grazing sheep.
It is a perennial species (meaning that it leaves for over two years) but it did not grow back and this was the last record of the species until the past week.
Though since I've brought this up a few of my family members from Yell have told me that many, many  years ago (80 years even 100) "the Links" of Vatsetter in Yell used to be covered in the stuff but it disappeared and no-one alive today has seen those plants there and now only the stories from the past are passed down.

I would just like to thank Paula for taking the time to look for and photograph the Sea Kale which was crucial in hopefully getting a positive ID and for the confirmation by Paul Harvey and Mike Pennington.

Finally here is the plant, yes it is just a big piles of leaves but a very rare pile of leaves in these parts!

(Photo by Paula Moss)

Saturday, 23 August 2014

From South to Nort' : Birding with Steve Carter

In February of this year, I was contacted by Steve Carter from Hertfordshire asking me if I could show him some of Yell's birds, mammals and scenery while he was up here in early August.
After a couple of months of planning, Steve came up to Yell all the way from Hertfordshire and I went up to Cullivoe to meet him.
I got there just around 1040 and a van was being unloaded full of the gear for Steve and all the others that were staying in Cullivoe.
Steve came out and we shook hands before beginning to talk about the day ahead.
There was still a bit of unloading to do so I headed in with Steve and after a while we were ready to set off.
First we headed south to Gutcher to get shots of seabirds. ie. Gannets, Fulmars and Shags.

A very deeply coloured Yarrow flower

Alot of Gannets

A closer shot

My Gannet shots weren't that great but I'm learning

A very low dive

Still working on it

A bit of Gannet Photography

Steve and I then headed off in search of more species, our next was Red-throated Diver which we managed to spot from the road.
We headed further south to Basta Voe and we met a couple who said about a Merganser with chicks at Mid Yell, so we headed off in search of them.
We searched in the Voe at Mid Yell but with no luck so I asked Charlie Inkster if he had any idea.
Charlie told me that he had seen the birds at the Head of the Voe so we headed off there.
Still no luck though so north we headed, back to Cullivoe.
The Van pulled back up at the Community Centre and we went in for a few minutes before heading north to Kirk Loch and Breakon Beach.
Four of us headed off and after checking a Trout Loch or two we reached Kirk Loch but it was devoid of birds so Breakon was next.
Steve and I headed down to Breakon Beach, a first look produced no birds so we had a look at the hundreds of Sea Rocket plants before scanning the beach for birds.
We managed to pick out a flock of Arctic Terns and a summer plumage Sanderling! we slowly edged closer to the birds and I had a quick look out to sea and I spotted three Great Northern Divers (presumably the three birds I saw a few weeks ago).
Steve rolled off a few photos and we carried on to get closer and by the time we reached the other end of the beach it was time to head back.
The four of us got back in the Van and headed back to the Cullivoe Community Centre, the kettle was put on and I gave my Mam a call for a lift back home.
I sat with the rest of the group in the main room for the next twenty minutes before Steve and I headed outside.
After a few minutes we met Jim Nangle (A local birder) and Lynn Thomson, we were speaking to Jim about me having to head to Fair Isle tomorrow and that I wouldn't be able to show Steve around any more and we were wondering if Jim would be able to help out.
I'll have to thank Jim very much on this one because he took Steve around Unst for a look.
My Mam showed up five minutes later and I shook hands with Steve and that ended our Birding Trip.

I very much enjoyed showing Steve around Yell, we may not be the Island with a history of great rarities but we make do with all of our other birds.
I hope that Steve and I will get a chance at Birding again if he's ever back in the Isles or if I'm ever near his county.

Steve does his own blog so I've put the address to it below (but I can't get the hyperlink to work).

Friday, 1 August 2014

Great Sundew (Drosera anglica)

A blog post on a recent walk my granddad Tommy and I took to see the Great Sundew, at its only site in Shetland.

Much larger than the Round-leaved Sundew but much much rarer in Shetland

It was a nice small plant, one of the few carnivorous plants in Shetland.
In the small area in which it lived I counted 55 plants, many of which were taller than a tick tack box.

Also I got photos of a few other plants while were we hunting for the Sundews.

A withered Northern Marsh Orchid


Mainland Hawkweed, an endemic to the Isles and one of five planys

 Willowherb, one of the two native ones along with Rosebay

A tiny tree?


Bog Asphodel

Round-leaved Sundew

Took this on Automatic and this is how it came out

Heath Spotted Orchid

Autumn Hawkbit

 A Daisy