2021 County Report for Outer Hebrides

Paul A Smith

A planned boat-based field meeting was cancelled for the second year in a row when restrictions did not allow (and is now scheduled for 2023 instead). But various visitors took advantage of holidays in the UK to visit, and there was a particularly impressive clutch of orchid records from Phil Smith, including many Dactylorhiza hybrids (duly confirmed by Richard Bateman).

The VCR managed a short spring visit and a shorter than usual summer visit (no house party this year), but managed to cover some further under-recorded areas, continuing progress towards a tetrad flora. And as usual, it generated some interesting records in unexpected places. 2500 records were added in 2021, which is the lowest total this century. Must do better in 2022!

Nitella confervacea (Least Stonewort)

A moorland loch in central Lewis looked like a standard loch with peaty water, but a speculative grapnel came up with a tiny charophyte – Nitella confervacea. One of those species you can’t find if you’re looking for it, and this was the first time I’d found my own.

Cotoneaster amoenus (Beautiful Cotoneaster)

A wander round Carlabhagh (Carloway), a large but diffuse settlement which has not had its roadsides investigated recently turned up Diplotaxis tenufolia (2nd VC record) and Allium porrum (1st record) together on a verge, and then further along the road were Symphoricarpos × chenaultii (1st record) and a several bushes of a planted Cotoneaster, already self-seeding, which turned out to be C. amoenus new for Scotland (thanks to Jeanette Fryer for this and a range of other Cotoneaster dets). (Image: Emily Holmes, Dec 2021)