Natural Hebrides - Discovering and Documenting our Natural Heritage
We have received a grant from Scottish Natural Heritage under the natural projects scheme to increase participation in biological recording and to improve the skills of new and existing recorders throughout the islands. We will be working with the newly formed Lewis & Harris Curracag group to form a local recording hub and offer a range of training opportunities in biological recording techniques and species identification. Over the next three years we will be working hard with all our volunteers to increase the number of records from all of the islands and make a significant difference to our knowledge of the distribution of our flora and fauna. Information on recording activities, training workshops and events will be posted on the website.
OHBR will also be working with other agencies on a programme to increase the awareness of Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS), the threat they pose to our wildlife and to record their distribution in the islands. We will be adding a new section to the website to provide information on our target species.
As part of this project we will be adding new sections and information to the website and working towards our goal of making information on the wildlife of the islands easily accessible.
Hebrides Little 5
Curracag and Outer Hebrides Biological Recording will be working together on a number of initiatives to mark the Year of Natural Scotland. We will be celebrating the wonderful landscapes and wildlife of the islands and helping to make islanders and visitors aware of our superb natural heritage.
In the islands you can see some of Scotland's Big 5 - iconic species such Red Deer, Golden Eagle and Otter, which are being used to promote Scottish wildlife, but we also have many other animals and plants which are characteristic and important parts of our natural environment. Many of these are small, often very beautiful and almost all have fascinating life histories. We think they are overlooked and deserve more attention so we would like you to nominate your Hebrides Little 5.
It can be a plant, mammal, bird, amphibian, invertebrate, marine life or a fungus, it has to be smaller than a Corncrake, found in the islands and be easy to identify.
You can submit your 5 nominations on-line, by e-mail: (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by post to Hebrides Little 5, c/o 24 Ardivachar, South Uist, Outer Hebrides, HS8 5RF. You can also keep up-to date with the list of species which have been chosen and the number of nominations on the Nominated Species page.
Why not take photographs of your chosen 5 and enter them in the next Curracag Photographic Competition (details to be announced soon).
You don't have to be a member of Curracag or a resident to participate, we would like everyone to join in. So now is your chance to go exploring and get up close to experience the wonders of our natural world.
Formation Outer Hebrides Natural History Society Lewis & Harris Group
Although Curracag operated in the past in Lewis and Harris, for many years its activities have been restricted to the Uists. Now a new branch has been formed, aimed at anyone interested in the wildlife of Lewis and Harris.
Mick Blunt, Area Manager for the John Muir Trust, is one of the people behind the new group, is keen to stress that you don’t need to be a boffin to join.
“We’ve set up this Lewis and Harris branch of Curracag because we know how many islanders are fascinated by our wildlife. We want to provide an organisation where anyone, whether renowned expert or complete beginner, can come along, share their knowledge and find out more about our amazing natural world.”
Mick is enthusiastic about the group’s potential.
“Our wildlife really is world class, it’s incredibly popular with visitors and yet, until now, there has been no local group on Lewis and Harris helping people to find out about our natural world. Our aim is to develop a friendly and active group where people of all ages can learn more about our wildlife, share the considerable ecological expertise that already exists on the islands, and above all, get out and have fun experiencing our stunning natural environment.”
The group has just launched its spring programme of talks, field trips and events. With activities including a Spring Migration Watch, introductions to machair flowers and the plants & birdlife of the Lewis Peatlands, along with opportunities to learn about and get involved with biological recording on the islands, the programme should appeal to anyone interested in our natural history. Further information is available on the Curracag website.
New UK Fungus Record from South Uist
The fungi of the Outer Hebrides are not particularly well recorded and, until 2010, all the records originated from visiting mycologists. It was therefore anticipated that when Chris Johnson began his survey of the fungi of the islands that his work would not only increase our knowledge of their biodiversity and distribution but that he would also add some new species to the list for the Outer Hebrides. However, as the list of rare species grew we were anticipating that sooner or later one would be a first record for Scotland, but a first record for the UK was a surprise.
This small grey-brown fungus was found growing in a damp, mossy area in unimproved acid grassland in the Loch Druidibeg SSSI in October 2012. Chris identified it as an Arrhenia species and when microscopic examination suggested that it could be A. umbratilis Fr., the dried specimen was sent to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. In November Martyn Ainsworth and Alick Henrici confirmed that identification and indeed was a first authenticated record for Britain.
It is always exciting to be able to add a new record to the British list and this is a good example of the valuable contribution that amateur naturalists make to the understanding of the biodiversity of our natural heritage. There are a large number of citizen scientists who contribute 1000s of records to their local record centres or specialist biological groups, and make an enormous contribution to our knowledge of plants, animals and fungi.
You can see more photographs on Chris Johnson's website: www.hebridensis.co.uk
For further information please contact: Christine Johnson, Outer Hebrides Biological Recording Project. E-mail: email@example.com
Requests for Information
We are getting more requests for information and records from other recording groups and researchers, so we have added a new page to the Surveys section listing the data required. All your records are valuable and appreciated.