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  • Writer's pictureSim Elliott

Scotland 5: Glasdrum Wood NNR; temperate rain forest, and Chequered Skippers. 12.05.23

Updated: May 30, 2023

I got to Glasdrum from Oban by public transport. I took the West Coast Motors bus 405 to Creagan Bridge. There are on six services from Oban to Ceagan Bridge a day, and only five buses making the return journey, so careful planning is required: 405 - Oban to Appin/Duror | West Coast Motors. It is a four kilometre walk from the bus stop at Creagan Bridge to the reserve. The walk is along a minor road; there was little traffic when I walked along i. The road follows the north shore of Loch Creran and affords magnificent views over to Beinn Bhreac. I had got to Oban by public transport from Brighton (four trains in one day)

Loch Creran and Beinn Bhreac

Armeria maritima, Sea Thrift on the shore of the sea Loch Creran

All sections of text in italics are quotations; sources cited.

The reserve is a fine example of one of Scotland’s Celtic rainforests. This ancient woodland cloaks the slopes of Beinn Churalain, rising steeply above Loch Creran. The woodland trail climbs up through this temperate rainforest which, with its ancient oaks, ash and hazel trees, is even rarer than the tropical rainforests. Ferns sprout from rocky crevices and lichens and mosses cling to branches. Butterflies flit among the flowers in open spaces where sunlight can reach. In spring and summer the wood is also filled with the chorus of bird song. Wrens, chaffinches and wood warblers are a few of the birds you can see and hear. ...

Glasdrum Wood is one of the best sites in the UK for lichens which come in all different shapes and sizes and cover many of the trees here. Over 169 species of lichen have been found in Glen Creran, and more than 95 of these are considered to have significant conservation importance, including the nationally scarce Norwegian Specklebelly. This particular lichen can be spotted on hazel trees close to the path edge. More common lichens such as lungwort hang down from many branches overhead.

This is a very special place for butterflies. With its steep southerly aspect, Glasdrum’s many small woodland glades and larger open ground act as suntraps warming up quickly in good weather. These conditions allow butterflies and other insects to thrive. More than 20 different species of butterfly live here, including the rare pearl-bordered fritillary and the chequered skipper. The higher slopes above the wood are home to the mountain ringlet, Scotland’s only true mountain butterfly.

June is the best month to spot the beautiful chequered skipper. This small fast-flying butterfly likes the wet grasses found in small glades and underneath electricity pylons. In Britain, this butterfly can now only be found near Fort William. Visit Glasdrum Wood National Nature Reserve | NatureScot

I followed the woodland trail:

I did not spend time with each lichen and bryophytes identifying them to species level systematically, through using keys and chemical testing (for lichens), as I was trying to get an impression of the temperate rain forest habitat, and see as many things as I could in a limited amount of time; therefore all the identifications in this posts are best guesses from my photographs, using observable visual features and field guides (Dobson, F. 2018, Lichens An Illustrated Guide to the British and Irish Species and Atherton, I.; Bosanquet, S.; Lawley, M. 2010 Mosses and Liverworts of Britain and Ireland: A Field Guide) and online resources inc. Welcome to the British Lichen Society | The British Lichen Society; and Home - British Bryological Society)

The Woodland Trail (photographs in chronological order)

Speckled Yellow Moth, Pseudopanthera macularia. A very common moth that I see in Sussex in late May and June. Over 200 species of moths have been found on the Reserve The Story of Glasdrum Wood National Nature Reserve.pdf (

A mossy Betula sp. BIrch sp., trunk

A Betula sp. BIrch sp.

Possibly the lichen Pannaria conoplea on this birch. An old forest indicator species (Dobson, F. 2018, p. 313. A lichen of oceanic western woods.

Frullania dilatata), Dilated Scalewort on this birch

Possibly Ricasolia virens lichen on this tree

Ricasolia virens, a member of the Lobarion community of lichens seen in Scotland's temperate rain forest

Frullania dilatata and Metzgeria furcata; two very common liverworts that I see frequently in Sussex wood

Possibly Ricasolia virens and Cypress-leaved Plait-Moss, Hypnum cupressiforme

Probably a Pannaria sp. lichen lichen being overgrown Frullania dilatata and Metzgeria furcata

Frullania dilatata and possibly Thuidium delicatulum, Delicate Fern moss

Possibly, Tormentil. Potentilla erecta

Usnea sp. lichen

Speckled Wood, Pararge aegeria. A very common woodland butterfly across the UK

Mouse-tail Moss, Pseudisothecium myosuroides. A very common tree moss in the UK

Carex nigra, Common Sedge

Brown Silver-line Moth, Petrophora chlorosata. A common moth across the UK

Yellow Pimpernel, Lysimachia nemorum, widespread in UK

Probably Bunodophoron melanocarpum. I also saw this lichen in fertile form in Glen Nant; it is a species of Celtic rain forest; but there is a "strange" outlier of this species at Eridge Rocks in the High Weald of Sussex; an oceanic microclimate (and possibly a remnant of a former temperate rain forest)


Chequered Skipper

The Reserve has an outstanding assemblage of invertebrates with a comprehensive range of butterflies, moths, beetles, flies, bees and wasps, bugs and spiders, many of which are nationally scarce. The Reserve is one of Scotland’s best butterfly sites, with 21 of the 34 species recorded in Scotland. It has one of the largest chequered skipper populations in Britain. Now extinct in England, the chequered skipper has a very restricted distribution in north Argyll and Lochaber centred on Fort William. It is a nationally scarce species and accorded priority status in the UK BAP. The Story of Glasdrum Wood National Nature Reserve.pdf (

Pannaria rubiginosa, a lichen restricted to Celtic temperate rain forests

Possibly Peltigera praetextata

View over Creach Bheinn and Beinn Sgulaird

Ajuga reptans

A burn through the woods

Sessile oak with epiphytes

Possibly Mycoblastus sanguinarius on Oak above

Possibly Usnea dasapoga on Oak above

Usnea sp. lichen and Frullania dilatata (liverwort) on Oak above

Probably Polpodium vulgare with lichens and bryophuyes

Lichens and mosses are small and can be hard to identify; but easier to spot from a distance are the polypody ferns that sprout from Britain’s rainforest trees. These beautiful, delicate plants love the damp shade and humidity of our western oakwoods. The translucent fronds of polypodies lend a furry green aura to each tree they grow on, particularly when sunlight glows through them. ‘Polypody’, meaning ‘many-footed’, refers to the fern’s method of spreading. It sends out horizontal roots called rhizomes that creep along branches, step-by-step, sending up fresh shoots at each interval. Guy Shrubsole Britain's rainforests | Countryfile magazine guide |

Lobaria pulmonaria with other lichens

Possibly Pannaria conoplea

Possibly Peltigera collina

Possibly a Bryoria sp., possibly Bryoria capilaris and Lobaria pulmiaria

Unidentified fungus

A beautiful Sessile Oak, Quercus petraea, branch with Polypody ferns and a variety of lichens and bryophytes

Another Chequered Skipper

Polypodium vulgare

Possibly the slime mould Mucilago crustacea (Dog Sick Slime Mould), more lokely unidientified fun

Probably Usnea dasopoga with other lichens

Oxalis acetosella, Wood sorrel, on moss, on hazel

Mossy tree!

Woolly Fringe-Moss, Racomitrium lanuginosum

Probably Little Shaggy-moss, Rhytidiadelphus loreus

Scapania gracilis, a liverwort restricted to western Atlantic woodland

Polytirchum sp moss with female gametophytes

Sessile Oak with "caught" fallen branch covered in Usnea sp. lichen

Probably Peltigera praetextata

Large Red Damselfly, Pyrrhosoma nymphula

Clouded Border, Lomaspilis marginata

When I got back to Open a sea mist had come in!



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