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Caithness Field Club



Caithness Field Club Bulletin

Current Biological Recording Schemes
(by Ken Butler)

These are schemes being run in the current year by various organisations to enhance knowledge of our natural habitat. Members are encouraged to contribute if they can. Some schemes require a degree of knowledge and dedication, while others require only common knowledge and the will to write it down. The standing schemes which run in the long term were described in the last issue of the Bulletin (ref 1). This articles denotes special schemes being given emphasis currently.

Galls on Scots Pine
One of the schemes of the Highland Biological Recording Group for 2003 is to record galls seen on Scots Pine trees. This is not a big issue in Caithness since there are no natural pinewoods and few individual pine trees. Nevertheless where trees are seen please examine them for galls and report anything to Phillip F Entwistle (phone 01862 881327). There is a witches broom type of gall which results in a twiggy sphere at the end of a branch; there are two types of gall that result in small spherical bulges on twigs and there is a fourth type of gall that results in local thickening of a twig with little orange ears. More details can be obtained from reference 2.

Beach Combing
Here is a recording scheme (see ref 2 again) that requires no special skill. Simply take walks on local beaches and, if you find any of the following, keep a record and a specimen.They are all chosen to be readily identified from a popular handbook of the seashore such as reference 3.

The sea gooseberry Pleurobrachia pileus
Egg masses of necklace shells, either the Large Necklace shell, Polinices catenata or the Common.
  Necklace Polinices polianus. In your seashore book the family name may be given as Polinices, Euspira
  or Natica.
Common whelk egg masses, Buccinium undatum
The sea mouse Aphrodita aculeata
Egg wrack Ascophyllum nodosum

Observations should be sent to Inverness Museum or to David W McAllister 01862 892302 zawalke@aol.com

There is an ongoing project to record mammals. At present there is emphasis on recording small things - rats, bats, mice, voles, shrews. Also sightings of Sika deer and Muntjac deer are of great interest. The contact is Ro Scott 01381 600392, ro.scott@care4free.net

There is a national scheme for recording bumblebees. It requires some training and skill, but most people become competent during one season of trying. The map on the next page shows that Caithness and adjacent parts of Sutherland are not well recorded. Some volunteers to learn about bumblebees and record them are urgently needed. The contact is Dr Murdo Macdonald 01997 421797,
Murdo.Macdonald@ hcs.uhi.ac.uk  

1. Biological Recording in Caithness by Ken Butler, Caithness Field Club Bulletin 6,6, April 2002.
2. Newsletter No 15, July 2002, Highland Biological Recording Group
3. Hayward, Nelson-Smith and Shields (1996) Collins Pocket Guide to the Seashore of Britain and Europe.
   Harper Collins, Lond.

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