Summer meeting 2015: Eigg, Scotland

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4 July 2015 - 11 July 2015

Meeting report

Following the very successful summer meetings on the islands of Rum and Raasay the island of Eigg remained as a gap in the BBS exploration of the Inner Hebrides; like Raasay it was poorly known for bryophytes, and due to its relatively small size could be covered in some detail in a week. Apart from a few records from 1935 by G. Heslop-Harrison, the only real attempt at a local bryophyte flora was by Blackburn & Lobley (1939) as a result of several visits in the late 1930s. They recorded species such as Herbertus hutchinsiae, Marchesinia mackaii, Glyphomitrium daviesii and Oedipodium griffithianum.
More recently woodland surveys by Ben Averis in 2000 and 2002 added many species to the Eigg checklist such as Frullania microphylla, Plagiochila bifaria and Ulota calvescens. The
island includes 16 tetrads, of which 7 were visited by Ben Averis so much ground remained unexplored; we carried out a tetrad-based survey of as much of the island as possible.

Eigg is approximately 9 km long and 5 km broad, rising to 393 metres on the Sgurr, the most prominent summit on the island. Since 1997 it has been owned and managed by the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust with many innovative projects including self-sufficiency in renewable energy. Eigg is accessible by ferry from Mallaig and in summer from Arisaig, but no vehicles
can be brought on to the island without special permission, adding to its air of tranquility. In spite of its size, Eigg offers varied habitats – open moorland on the plateau, fringed by dramatic basalt cliffs, the prominent peak of the Sgurr composed of columnar basaltic ‘pitchstone’, some oceanic wooded valleys with ravines and waterfalls, and the coastline with cliffs, some limestone outcrops and sandy beaches. The weather was kind to us, with only one real soaking on the last day.

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Eigg, Scotland