Wednesday, 12 October 2011

This Heterogeneous Isle

A dictionary definition of heterogeneity: composed of diverse elements, e.g. the Isle of Mull.

Mullogeneity, although not yet adopted by the Oxford English Dictionary, is a word that is unique to the Isle of Mull, describing a miscellany of wildlife and landscape the like of which cannot be found elsewhere.

From Little Fissures do Great Volcanoes Grow
Characterised by frost-shattered summits, that rise high above the floor of deeply-gouged glens, the mountains that make up Mull’s central highlands speak eloquently of the island landscapes turbulent past. Overshadowing the former farmstead at Gortenbuie and the Cannel River floodplain, the height of Ben Talaidh (Mull’s third highest ascent at 761 metres) sits astride a great volcano, whose lava pile helped spawn the island as we know it today – 03/05/11

Glitzy and Glamorous
The damp woodlands on Mull represent ideal growing conditions for a variety of fascinating plants that simply merge into the environment and are, thus, overlooked. The flat-lobed and leafy liverworts fit neatly into this category, living out their simple lives in a way that doesn’t draw attention to themselves, unless you happen to be a practising Bryologist! They may lack the film star looks of orchids or possess the catwalk scents of garden roses, yet their less flamboyant, self-deprecating manner has a certain appeal of its own. Has it not? – 22/07/11

Effervescent yet Evanescent
The cock Yellowhammer is one of the Isle of Mull’s most striking birds. A rather localised breeding species on the island, no doubt due to the general scarcity of the starch-rich grass and cereal seeds that it relies upon, small parties can be relied upon to brighten up island gardens from time to time. Having suffered a near catastrophic slump in their mainland fortunes, this sparkling bunting can still be heard delivering its characteristic ‘a-little-bit-of-bread, but-no-chee-eese’ ditty from atop wires and gorse bushes in several parts of the island – 07/09/11

Mull’s Jam Butty Mines
The Broad-leaved Helleborine’s
rather understated magnificence is somewhat soured by the knowledge that it is the most common of its kind to be encountered in Britain. Nor does it emit a deliciously seductive scent to tantalise any passing insects and potential pollinators. That said, the glistening pot of purple nectar ‘jam’ that lies in wait for any wasps fortunate enough to stumble across this easily overlooked woodland orchid should be ample reward. Toast, anyone? – 26/07/11

An Araldite Anemone
Encouraged by the water of an incoming tide, this crimson Beadlet Anemone has emerged to resume feeding within the rocky crevice of its upper shore home. Protected from drying out during periods of low tide by a sticky membrane of mucous, this attractive and noticeable inhabitant of Mull’s rocky coastline quickly retracts its two hundred tentacles when disturbed. Super-glued to rocks, the anemone’s lower margin is a striking violet-blue colour, making it one of the most vibrantly coloured of the island’s coastline environment and an easy find for holidaying rock-poolers – 25/09/11

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