Thursday, May 25, 2017

Here come the moths

Back from Greece and an awful lot of listing to do. Way behind on my blog and a fridge full of wee things to id sometime.
With me bringing the warm weather back from holiday the moths have eventually woken up (it had been a very slow season until the last few days),  as have the Butteflies and the first Odonata. From way behind, three days of 20C+ sunny days have brought me back on track.

Here's where I'm at and I could well get to 600 before the end of the month if the weather holds,  courtesy of a round box with a 125 watt Mercury vapour lamp on top,

Keith Robson
Waldridge (VC66)

Skye - Joining the UK600 Club

Made it over 600 at last! First up were a bunch of hoverflies from woodland and a couple of gall-causing mites on the 23rd May

Eriophyes laevis - common on Alder leaves
Rhingia campestris with fully extended proboscis
Also a couple of microfungi that were both lifers for me

Puccinia heraclei on the underside of Hogweed leaflets and petioles
Colonies of Plasmopara nivea on the underside of Cow Parsley leaves
And again - looking utterly bizarre under the microscope!
I built myself a light trap yesterday evening, absolutely nothing in it this morning so will have to jig around with the set-up a bit. Did find these a few days back though

Micropterix calthella - a familiar sight at this time of year
Just need some moffs n stuff now...
No idea about this though - Fungal? Bacterial? Just fancied a change?

Strangely blanched Hogweed leaves, quite a few plants like this in Uig Woods

Additions since the last update -

591 again (after deleting Microvelia...) - Myathropa florea (hoverfly, new for Skye I think)
592 - Rhingia campestris (hoverfly)
593 - Aceria pseudoplatani (mite on Sycamore)
594 - Eriophyes laevis (mite on Alder)
595 - Puccinia heraclei (microfungus on Hogweed) - Lifer
596 - Eared Willow (plant)
597 - Micropterix calthella (microlep)
598 - Helophilus pendulus (hoverfly)
599 - Melanostoma scalare (hoverfly)
600 - Plasmopara nivea (microfungus on Cow Paesley) - Lifer
601 - Wild Angelica (plant)
602 - Common Ragwort (plant)
603 - Barynotus moerens (weevil) - Lifer
604 - Common Milkwort (plant)
605 - Welsh Poppy (naturalised plant)

Also a STACK of stuff on pins awaiting identification whenever I manage to get back to my books. Massively frustrating not being able to identify so many hoverflies any further than genus!

Sand Point VC6

Back on the patch yesterday with 5 to go for the 600. The weather was good but still not that many insects on the wing. Maybe the time of day or perhaps a sign of the times?  Despite this, a bit of sweep netting and pocket full of pots was soon acquired. I have some leaf mine rearing to do also and it would be nice to see the fly come out rather than a hymenoptera for a change.
Here's the list of the most recent additions:

595. Dun-bar
596. Depressaria daucella
597. Cockchafer
598. Celypha lacunana
599. Pseudargyrotoza conwagana
600. Rhagio tringarius
601. Common Poppy
602. Melanophora roralis
603. White Campion
604. Epiphyas postvittana
605. Hedgerow Cranesbill
606. Tephritis vespertina - lifer
607. Platycheirus angustatus - lifer
608. Gastrophysa polygoni - lifer
609. Hilara lundbecki - lifer
610. Aedes rustica - lifer
611. Empis caudatula - lifer
612. Stenodema laevigata

Tephritis vespertina as far as I can tell.

Dun-bar larva on Rose

Keys to Aedes rustica

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Dalgety Bay, Fife - 600 up!

One week ahead of schedule and a cracking species to round out on - my first Stiletto fly and one of only two species recorded in the county, beaten from gorse this morning ...

At first I thought robberfly but going through the back of my mind was Therevidae (too much browsing of the Soldierfly book!). After some research during quiet periods this morning it appears to be Thereva nobilitata - and species number 600!

596 Pegomya solennis A Flower Fly
597 Aphidecta obliterata Larch Ladybird
598 Psilolechia lucida A lichen
599 Palloptera quinquemaculata A Pallopterid fly
600 Thereva nobilitata A Stiletto Fly

Breakdown (3 new additions at lunchtime)

Jan Feb Mar Apr 24-May
Algae 8 13 16 17 17
Lichens 37 41 43 44 45
Fungi 28 31 44 49 52
Vert - Birds 38 50 56 62 64
Vert - Other 2 4 8 9 9
Lepidoptera 1 2 9 14 27
Diptera 4 7 12 41 60
Arachnida 4 13 20 25 31
Coleoptera 6 17 17 21 42
Mollusc 9 24 27 33 33
Collembola 8 10 12 12 12
Invert - Other 22 33 51 62 77
Plants - Vascular 47 63 74 92 104
Plants - Bryo 22 29 30 30 30

236 337 419 511 603

Monday, May 22, 2017

Dalgety Bay, Fife - crawling towards the big 6

Grinding my way through scraps of this and that, and making heavy work of the last mile of the 500s. I created myself a weevil workshop on Sunday morning when everything I swept had a new weevil in it! Banged my head off one last night briefly before realising I wasn't in a sufficiently weevil frame of mind. I have no doubt I'll get them - it's just a question of when!

I also have an ever growing collection of jars with leaves which I may turn into records at some point and another gall mite leaf from which I will try (again) to extract some living thing. I'm still recording them - just not counting them! Phyllocoptes goniothorax rolled hawthorn leaf edges are the latest.

I'll continue to scratch around and see if I can throw something else on the pile from the comfort of my chair. It's raining outside and lunchtime looks like an opportune moment to prioritise my expanding waistline over my expanding list!
Bibio marci was out in force

A "medium" sized weevil with a pointy pronotum

Anaspis maculata

Limonia phragmitidis

Phyllocoptes goniothorax


581 Stenodema laevigata A mirid bug
582 Limonia phragmitidis A cranefly
583 Athous haemorrhoidalis A click beetle
584 Tephritis hyoscyami A tephritid fly
585 Anaspis maculata A Tumbling Flower Beetle

An appeal for help:
I only noticed late in the day this plant which looks sort of onion-y and smells sort of garlicky when you break a leaf. Yet I have no name for it. It's scattered on the woodland floor especially on the edges and I never noticed it (or did I and now I can't id it?). It also has a rust. So I'm two species in the hole here. All assistance gratefully appreciated!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Skye - Mostly Moths and Plants

I'm still sub-600 but I'm inching ever closer. Might help if I tackled the backlog in the fridge/on pins.

576 - Common Carpet netted by day in the woods
577 - Small Phoenix on the wall by day
582 - Globeflower - lifer!
588 - Orchestes fagi tenanted mies - lifer!
589 - Feathered Thorn
Additions are as follows:

576 - Common Carpet (moth)
577 - Small Phoenix (moth)
578 - Groundsel (plant)
579 - Melancholy Thistle (plant)
580 - Common Valerian (plant)
581 - Broad Buckler-fern (plant)
582 - Globeflower (plant) - Lifer
583 - Norway Maple (plant)
584 - Nettle-tap (moth)
585 - Russian Comfrey (plant)
586 - Yarrow (plant)
587 - Bush Vetch (plant)
588 - Orchestes fagi (beetle) - Lifer
589 - Feathered Thorn (moth)
590 - Bugle (plant)
591 - Greater Plantain plant growing at my front gate (been there for weeks I reckon....)

Big push required, two more days to go and I get a day off. Will it be 600 up???

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Dalgety Bay, Fife - Tach the high road - Winthemia quadripustulata

A decent day yesterday topped by re-keying and re-checking a nice tachinid fly which looks a likely candidate for a Scottish first (checking with NMS in case other records exist, as often turns out to be the case). It's the 6th tachinid I've added to the county's paltry list of 29 species (British list 267) and the third new county species from this 1km square since the 12th of April! There must be scope for a lot more. I feel a review coming on ...

Anyway W.quadripustulata is the most common of the British members of the genus, so would have to have been voted "most likely". NBN has no other Winthemiae north of Leeds.

With the other, almost inconsequential, additions ...
561 Adela reaumurella Green Long-horn
562 Winthemia quadripustulata A Tachinid fly
563 Clubiona lutescens A clubionid spider
564 Paranchus albipes A ground beetle
565 Dasysyrphus venustus A hoverfly

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Dalgety Bay, Fife - numbers geekiness

A (possibly disturbing) view into my fevered brain. A few species added on an evening wander at the end of a rainy day. Have a picture first to ease into it ...

Light Brown Apple Moth

Latest additions:
13/05/2017 554 Ulmus glabra Wych Elm
13/05/2017 555 Hirundo rustica Barn Swallow
14/05/2017 556 Anatis ocellata Eyed Ladybird
14/05/2017 557 Lydina aenea A tachinid fly
15/05/2017 558 Epirrhoe alternata Common Carpet
15/05/2017 559 Epiphyas postvittana Light Brown Apple Moth
15/05/2017 560 Endrosis sarcitrella White-shouldered House-moth

Overall numbers:

Jan Feb Mar Apr 16-May
Algae 8 13 16 17 17
Lichens 37 41 43 44 44
Fungi 28 31 44 49 51
Vert - Birds 38 50 56 62 63
Vert - Other 2 4 8 9 9
Lepidoptera 1 2 9 14 21
Diptera 4 7 12 41 50
Arachnida 4 13 20 25 28
Coleoptera 6 17 17 21 30
Mollusc 9 24 27 33 33
Collembola 8 10 12 12 12
Invert - Other 22 33 51 62 73
Plants - Vascular 47 63 74 92 99
Plants - Bryo 22 29 30 30 30

236 337 419 511 560

Progress status:

date 31-Jan 28-Feb 31-Mar 30-Apr 16-May
days remaining 334 306 275 245 229
spp so far 236 337 419 511 560
spp/day period 7.61 3.61 2.65 3.07 3.06
sppc/day so far 7.61 5.71 4.66 4.26 4.12
spp remaining 764 663 581 489 440
spp/day rqd 2.29 2.17 2.11 2.00 1.92
spp/week rqd 16.01 15.17 14.79 13.97 13.45

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sand Point VC6

Been making some progress with the grasses since my last post. I had the one I was stuck on identified via ispot and reverse keyed it. Turns out that a needle like leaf is a rolled one and to measure it you don't roll it out. It probably says in the book somewhere about this but I generally head straight for the keys when a book comes through the letter box. I still think Poland and Clement Vegetative Key to the British Flora is better than all the other books on grasses I have.

Soft-brome Grass
Beetles next and with no carcasses to stake out I've been reduced to checking dog poo which gave me a rather nice Ontholestes murinus. I watched for quite some time hiding on the side of the poo and twice very successfully catch two flies. At the same poo I found Demetrias atricapillus. This one gave me terrible problems to ID mainly down to the fact that it has lobed hind tarsi so it won't key to carabidae in D.M.Unwins Families of British Beetles. Another one to thank Ispot for.

Demetrias atricapillus

Ontholestes murinus
Moths are starting to kick off but yet to run the trap so no big jump for this group yet. By day I've found Phyllonorycter stettinensis, Pammene rhediella, Diamond-back, Silver Y and 3 long horns: Adela fibulella, reaumurella and rufimitrella.
And back to my favourite group diptera, plenty of lifers from this group with 11 this month alone.

Argyra argyria

Chyliza extenuata

Limonia nigropunctata

Neurigona quadrifasciata
Algae 7
Slime Mould 1
Lichen 49
Fungi 12
Bryophytes 64
Vascular Plants 133
Cnidarians 1
Molluscs 7
Arachnids 3
Myriapods 2
Crustaceans 3
Springtails 3
Orthopteroids 1
Hemipteroids 8
Hymenoptera 20
Coleoptera 37
Diptera 96
Butterflies 11
Moths 31
Remaining small orders 1
Birds 63
Mammals 5
Others 1
Total 559

Skye - 2013 revisited

As a diversion, here's an extract from this time 4 years ago (when I last attempted the 1000 in a 1KSQ Challenge) - "One other difference to the site is the annual presence of a herd of conservation cattle to Epsom Common. Whilst I was in Wales they have arrived. There are now three grazing areas, one of which is slap bang in the middle of my recording square. For anyone not too sure, I can thoroughly recommend high-stepping over the electric fence whilst being rained upon and getting an electric jolt through your left knacker. Getting zapped again before you can throw yourself off just heightens the fun. Always a thrill and I simply can't recommend it enough"...

So, four years later and I'm getting caught up in barbed wire rather than electric fencelines, but I'm way ahead of my old total for the time of year (575 versus 512)

Additions today are all courtesy of "Nick" who arrived unannounced at the front desk this afternoon asking for me. He reads my blog, apparently. My boss started to play lovesongs into the walkie talkie (one stays at reception and the other is always in my trouser pocket) midway through my introduction to Nick. Never a great move...not on a first date anyway,  lol. Despite this we headed into Uig Woods so that Nick could see the Mitella ovalis for himself (now being the fourth person in Britain to see it growing in 'ze wild') 

Palustriella commutata - common on wet rockfaces
Pellia endviifolia - again on a wet rockface
This chump arived on the scene yesterday. This morning he still hadn't moved so I had to carry him 20ft upslope into a 'safe' area (I was carting snedded trees back and forth along the pathway where he had taken up residency). Judging by the amount of bill clacking and talons being waved in the air, it was less than amused at proceedings!

Tawny owlet - and a feisty wee bugger too!
The all important numbers -

572 - Ctenidium molluscum (moss)
573 - Chiloscyphus polyanthos (liverwort) - Lifer
574 - Palustriella commutata (moss) - Lifer
575 - Pelia endiviifolia (liverwort)

I'm fully expecting to pass 600 before the month is out. This is way ahead of my 2013 tally for this time of year. Will I crash and burn-out or will I stay the course and smash through that 1000 barrier? Will Christian ever update his tally so that the rest of us know what we're up against?

Friday, May 12, 2017

Dalgety Bay, Fife - 550

550 up with one new fungus last night. Spent a bit of time identifying another fungus only to notice this morning that I recorded it in March!

Sphaeropsis sapinea on Scots pine cone

immature spores growing

mature spores

Microsphaeria viburni
Microsphaeria viburni
Yesterday lunchtime I found a dead mouse on the patch but only attended by Calliphoras vicina and vomitoria at that time. I'll revisit it today and see if it's (a) still there and (b) attended by anything more interesting (i.e. Silphidae). Have to improve my measly record of one!

Numbers bit:
542 Bibio marci St Marks Fly
543 Beris chalybata Murky-legged Black Legionnaire
544 Acyrthosiphon pisum Pea aphid
545 Cantharis decipiens A soldier beetle
546 Liocoris tripustulatus A mirid bug
547 Heliophanus cupreus A jumping spider
548 Gastrophysa polygoni A leaf beetle
549 Catops nigricans  A beetle
550 Microsphaeria viburni A powdery mildew

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Skye - Lord of the Flies

Made a small dent into the world of diptera today, after taking a mere 45 years to identify my first ever Gymnocheta viridis last week, today I saw three together, followed by a coupla singletons and then a pair! 

Gymnocheta viridis - one very smart Tachinid indeed
Also sunning themselves on a tree trunk were two of these beauties

Mesembrina meridiana - has the largest maggot of the dung community apparently!
I nipped into the local shop for lunch and found this fella watching me as I blitzed my way through a Mars bar/Red Bull combo. Coz no, I'm not sweet enough already...

Rhagio scolopaceus, known as the Downlooker Snipe Fly
Back in the woods again I realised my camera lens was dirty (hence the less-than-sharp pics above) which was a tad annoying seeing as this Lucilia let me shove the camera pretty much up it's nose

Lucilia sp - it's not L.caesar, but that's about all I can say from this pic.
Moving onto scary beasts, a large wasp zoomed past me at knee level, I gave chase and caught it in my net. Then the fun started! Eventually it was in a pot (and then on a pin) wherupon I could confirm it as my first ever Red Wasp Vespula rufa. Soon after I potted up a Common Carder Bee (to rule out a local lookalike) and had the same issue all over again. Meh, I'm not a huge fan of things that can sting me.

I feel pretty bad for taking a queen, though I suppose I've reduced my chances of being stung later this summer.
Last notable addition came to me courtesy of Ali. Following his lead I swept a load of nettles and eventually struck gold with a net full of small, hump-backed weevils. I knocked a few out in the jar to microscopically check various features but let them go afterwards once the identity was confirmed

Nedyus quadrimaculatus - mega cute and a lifer for me!
Additions since the last update are

556 - Common Figwort (plant)
557 - Mesembrina meridiana (fly)
558 - Gastrophysa viridula (beetle)
559 - Mother of Pearl Pleuroptya ruralis (microlep - larva)
560 - Sedge Warbler (bird)
561 - Red Wasp Vespula rufa (aculeate) - Lifer
562 - Common Carder Bee Bombus pascuorum (aculeate)
563 - Nedyus quadrimaculatus (beetle) - Lifer
564 - Downlooker Snipefly Rhagio scolopaceus (fly)
565 - Ramularia didyma (microfungus on buttercup)
566 - Phragmidium mucronatum (microfungus on Dog-rose)
567 - Eristalis pertinax (hoverfly missed off from earlier)
568 - Bibio marci (fly)