Wednesday, April 17, 2013

400th species falls!

Last update was for 6th April when I was on 385 species. I've ventured into my square twice since then, first on 11th April and again today on 17th.

The 11th was dull, drizzly, cool and a bit breezy. Typically things improved once I was back to work again. Despite the weather I managed a few extra additions to the tally as follows:

386 - Oregon Grape - well naturalised in the woods behind the Wells Estate gardens
387 - Mahonia Rust Cumminsiella mirabilissima - on the Oregon Grape, two for the price of one!
388 - Myrmica scabrinodis (a red ant) - scape structure/angle of flange eventually discerned (LIFER)
389 - Smooth Glass Snail Aegopinella nitidula - 2, Mark Telfer showed me the empty shell  on 1st March (LIFER)
390 - Early Dog-violet - small numbers in the wooded area behind Wells Estate
391 - Myrmica ruginodis (a red ant) - in a rotten log in woodland. Scape features noted (LIFER)
392 - Tufted Duck - a male on Stamford Green Pond. Scape features ignored. Just a tad overdue!!

Today I was aiming to top the 400 barrier. I "discovered" a bug I'd potted from last week, a damsel bug of some sort. After a bit of internet trawling I keyed it as Field Damsel Bug Nabis ferus. And yes, I counted the hairs on the apex of the corium - well over 60. The pronotal ratio fitted too. Happy days. By 2:30pm I was ready for action and headed out into the warmth. It was pretty windy, but the temperature was undoubtedly the highest I've enjoyed in the square so far this year. And as a result I found flying insects - at last!

But first was Garden Grape Hyacinth looking a tad out of place in a cracked pavement. The nearest garden is about 30ft away and the nearest with Garden Grape Hyacinth is about 5 houses further up the road. Good enough for me! The first Brimstone of the year flapped past, plus a bunch of Large Bee Flies at Lungwort. Comma and Peacock were sparring together, a female White Crab Spider looked a bit out of place on a deep yellow gorse flower. Apparently they can change colour given time, maybe she'll be yellow by the weekend?

A Willow Warbler was singing away just outside the square, luckily another one was well inside the boundary 30 mins later (very nice as the 400th species). After a bit of effort I finally found my first Diurnea fagella of the year, a male on an oak trunk. Also on a tree trunk was the bumblebee mimic Narcissus Bulb Fly. Sticking with tree trunks, a male Mandarin sitting halfway up one at Bramble Heath was a real bonus bird. They breed on other parts of Epsom Common but are really hit-and-miss up here. Nice find indeed. And under a tree trunk was a HUGE worm, I don't think I've ever really been awed by a worm before (although Green Earthworm was pretty darn swanky) but this thing was massive! I reckon 20cm long and 1cm wide. It very easily fitted the description of Lob Worm (aka The Night Crawler - I never realised Judas Priest were into annelids...) which was a lifer for me, despite being common as wormcasts.

Last but not least were Meadowsweet (first time I've ever seen this in the square) and Mistletoe (also first time I've ever seen this in the square!) Cool stuff. And I'm off tomorrow too with the whole day to myself, at last!

393 - Field Damsel Bug Nabis ferus - under a log. All pertinent features joyously noted (LIFER)
394 - Garden Grape Hyacinth - Wheelers Lane, growing quite isolated in the pavement!
395 - Brimstone - 3 seen, all males
396 - Large Bee Fly Bombylius major - lots seen today
397 - Comma -  9 seen in various clearings
398 - Peacock - 2 seen
399 - White Crab Spider Misumena vatia - 1 in gorse flower
400 - a singing Willow Warbler, very pleasant 400th species and a real harbinger of springtime
401 - Diurnea fagella (a micromoth) - 1 male resting on an oak trunk
402 - Narcissus Bulb Fly Merodon equestris - 1 sunning on a tree trunk
403 - Mandarin - a male calling from trees above a small pond was a bonus find for TQ1960
404 - Lob Worm Lumbricus terrestris - beast of the day!!! (LIFER)
405 - Meadowsweet - in a clearing at its only known (by me) site in the square
406 - Mistletoe - totally unexpected! Must've walked under this clump lots of times.

Sorry Andy, guess you'll have to add another category to the total's page, lol.


  1. Delighted to do so - well done indeed. Incredible progress, especially given your lack of moth trapping. I shall ask for a large woodland/heathland for my birthday...

  2. Well done mate ..... as they say in Surrey. 400 was never really on for me today (gardening in the next square) although I did toy with the idea of a sneaky ten new species before breakfast this morning. In fact I found a dozen or more new ones overnight .... but then that cunning plan failed miserably as I've still only ID'd THREE of 'em!

  3. Wow, very impressive! I'm going to try and hit 300 over the next few days - but it is getting tougher to add new species. Loving the challenge and finding folks updates on here great inspiration!

  4. Cheers chaps! I know exactly where you're both coming from - Mike, I always have stuff I have to put back after all attempts at identification fail. Tristan - it does seem to be getting tougher to find new stuff, but as you say the challenge and updates (full of sneaky hints and tips!) are a great inspiration.

    Andy - when's your birthday, mate? I'll send you some of Surrey's finest clay! :D