2020 County Report for West Sutherland

Ian Evans

It was an unexpectedly productive recording year, with a long season, for the far north-west, from 21st March to 23rd December.  The pandemic confined Gwen Richards and I mostly to listing previously unrecorded monads in Assynt, 17 in all.  Eight were a contribution to the Quinag Wildlife Project, run by the John Muir Trust and Assynt Field Club.  Shorter local visits resulted in the discovery, amongst others, of the pink-flowered form of Ajuga pyramidalis (Pyramidal Bugle), which Stace (2019) describes as found ‘rarely abroad’, a third site for Neottia nidus-avis (Bird’s-nest Orchid) and, coming down to earth, the first local record since the 1950s of Sagina apetala s.s. (Annual Pearlwort).

We were also able to spend two weeks during July and August at Tongue, joined, with due discretion, by Gordon Rothero and Ro Scott.  We listed 13 monads, both nearby and, with the help of Wildland Ltd., in very remote areas in the south of the parish.  Interesting finds included Lotus pedunculatus (Greater Bird’s-foot Trefoil) and Trisetum flavescens (Yellow Oat-grass) on the Kyle and a cliff-top sward on Neave Island with the unusual pairing of Salix herbacea (Dwarf Willow) and Scilla verna (Spring Squill).  This island, un-grazed for many decades, also had large quantities of Ophioglossum vulgatum (Adder’s-tongue Fern) in mats of dead grass.  The high points in August were sea-cliffs at Port Vasgo, with numerous Primula scotica (Scottish Primrose) and a new site for Carex maritima (Curved Sedge).

Neottia nidus-avis (Bird’s-nest Orchid)

A photo of Neottia nidus-avis by Gwen Richards at Achmelvich (NC068240) on 28/5/2020 – the third site for the species in West Sutherland

Ajuga pyramidalis (Pyramidal Bugle)

The pink-flowered form of Ajuga pyramidalis, taken by Gwen Richards on Stoer cliffs, NC030286, on 6/5/2020