2021 County Report for Shetland

Paul Harvey

Highlights of the year were the discovery of two species new to Shetland. Three flowering spikes of Neottia ovata (Common Twayblade) were located on the side of a track in Cunningsburgh. They looked well established, rather than newly arrived, and indeed we later learnt that they had been recorded previously; the recorder presumably being unaware of the importance of his observation. The other new addition was Lycopodium annotinum (Interrupted Clubmoss) located during fieldwork on the Viking windfarm on hill tops in central mainland. Twenty nine separate plants have been found to date which suggests it is only a matter of time before it is found elsewhere in the islands. One reason it may have previously been overlooked is the habitat involved, relatively uninteresting degraded blanket bog - often where the ground appears to be recovering after earlier erosion.
In the face of the ongoing pandemic putting paid to any organised events, recorder efforts focussed on trying to relocate species that had not been recorded for a number of years in the islands despite searches. It was heartening to see that a number of species were hanging on despite our fears with first records since 1991 for what is clearly native Campanula rotundifolia (Harebell) at Islesburgh Ness; 2003 for Sparganium erectum (Branched Bur-reed) near Lerwick; 2013 for Oxalis acetosella, Wood-sorrel, Collafirth Hill; 2014 for Myriophyllum spicatum (Spiked Water-milfoil), lochs on serpentine on Unst and 2015 for Juncus triglumis (Three-flowered Rush), flushes on Unst serpentine. Also good to report is the expansion of Gymnadenia borealis (Heath Fragrant-orchid) on the serpentine at the Keen of Hamar.