2020 County Report for West Inverness-shire

Ian Strachan & Ian Bonner

Winter was spent extracting records for Atlas 2020, including aquatics from SNH SCM reports for freshwater lochs across Scotland. Lockdown in spring gave an opportunity for local exploration in Glen Spean and Glen Roy, including monitoring of road verges for the Lochaber Biodiversity Group, and survey round Fort William. With council spraying on hold the town yielded some surprises, such as Mycelis muralis (Wall Lettuce) and Vulpia myuros (Rat’s-tail Fescue), and Jim McIntosh spotted Anthoxanthum aristatum (Annual Vernal-grass) on re-instated ground - the first Scottish record since 1984.

The Ben Alder hills received visits later in the summer from several different botanists (by chance) resulting in a tremendous haul of detailed arctic-alpine records for this superb but under-recorded area. Records were also collected or received from a range of other sites, including more than 1,000 records from local hills by Ian Moir. Other highlights included new sites for Hammarbya paludosa (Bog Orchid) In Ardnamurchan, Pulicaria dysenterica (Common Fleabane) near Kilmalieu, and Alchemilla wichurae on the splendidly named Callert Lump. Despite the intermittent restrictions on travel, around 5,000 records were obtained by botanists in VC97 over the year.

As VCR I gave a talk on ‘Wild fruits in the Highlands’ to Lochaber Natural History Society in February and again to Inverness Botany Group (by Zoom) in November. At the SBC I presented an exhibit about my botanical highlight of 2020, a new site for Melampyrum sylvaticum (Small Cow-wheat) beside the River Arkaig.