2023 County Report for Outer Hebrides

Paul Smith

The main activity in vc110 continues to be recording towards a tetrad flora, and there are now some records in 1046 of the 1189 tetrads that have some land above sea level, with perhaps 100 of those needing a further, proper recording visit even though they have a few records. So there are perhaps 250 tetrad visits to make for full coverage.

The main excitement for the year was a boat-based field meeting (at the third attempt after earlier postponements during COVID times) to the islands south of Barra. The weather was kind and we managed lists for all of the tetrads including some quite small scraps of rock, one of which could only be recorded with binoculars. A full report is in the BSBI Yearbook. This is a major help towards coverage of some of the more challenging areas of the vc.

The VCR also made spring and (post-boat) summer visits to Lewis, mostly covering moorland areas (which are often the least visited). Spring included a long walk to Allt Gil Bhigurra, the largest natural woodland in the county, and some nice wooded cliffs at Cul Chreag. Summer recording was in a mix of machair, coast, village and moorland habitats, refinding many old hectad records and adding many new ones (especially of introduced species in Tolsta, NB55). The biggest surprise was a second county record for Geum rivale (Water Avens) by a burn in the machair, quite different from its other vc110 site on a North Harris cliff ledge.

A number of visitors sent records from their holidays, which were much appreciated. Altogether more than 5000 records were added in 2023.

Ajuga pyramidalis (Pyramidal Bugle)

Ajuga pyramidalis (Pyramidal Bugle) in a new site at Allt Gil Bhigurra (NB20U), near a new record for Botrychium lunaria (Moonwort) and also with Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry) in the same place as last seen in 1997.

Geranium robertianum (Herb Robert)

Geranium robertianum (Herb Robert) on Creag Mo, North Harris – common on the mainland, but a rare native in the Outer Hebrides, and not otherwise known in the county as a cliff ledge species.