Sunday, February 24, 2013


And just as we thought summer was arriving, we go back to being bloody cold again. It's even chilly here in my subtropical island. As Andy has, I have been troubled by identifying spiders using my spider book and have only got to genus level a few times. Mainly due to not being able to see the features required properly as my dissecting microscope hasn't got the magnification required. As they (almost) said in 'Jaws', "We're gonna need a bigger microscope". Fingers crossed though, I am hoping to be able to borrow a microscope from the local Biological Records Centre.

I managed a walk round the block yesterday and dug out a few things that I could identify. The highlight, and a nice surprise, was the Water Rail I flushed from the edge of a slightly flooded scrubby area. I've never had one in my square before.

206  -  Emmelina monodactyla (Common Plume Moth)
207  -  Water Rail
208  -  Smooth Newt
209  -  Clausilia bidentata (snail)
210  -  Lords-and-Ladies
211  -  Field Horsetail
212  -  Water Slater (Asellus aquaticus)
213  -  Lecidella elaeochroma (lichen)
214  -  Charlock

Clausilia bidentata

Water Slater

Amandinea punctata Lecidella elaeochroma (had another look and changed my mind!)  
(my lichen ID is still quite a rough science, but this is what I came up with)

I predict that one of the main difficulties I will come up against are the flies and the beetles, of which I will find and photograph lots of species during the year and not know what they are. I really know very little about these two groups and I will struggle to even pick out a family. Here are a few examples from the last week or so....


  1. Mark - have a look through some of the links on Richard Comont's site (via our Useful Online Resources tab). For example, for fly families, see

    I've found this pretty useful.

    In my humble opinion, your beetle is a carabid, and there's some really brilliant material accessible online, including some excellent sheets by Mark T, plus some very useful keys at

  2. Thanks Andy for the website tips. There's so many sites listed in that list of sites, it's a struggleto know what is good and what isn't. I shall have a good look later.

  3. Mark,
    An excellent carabid find! That is Parophonus maculicornis, one of the few carabids that occurs on the Channel Islands but not in Britain. It was common on the only occasion I went beetling in France.

  4. Wow - thanks Mark. The first carabid beetle that I have tried to identify and it is a local speciality - great stuff. Probably very common here on the island though. Is there a particular feature visible on the photo that makes it this species?

  5. A small spot of chlorinated bleach on your lichen will easily tell apart your confusion species. Lecidella elaeochroma should test positive (orange).

  6. Mark, the carabid is one of the hairy species which are very much in the minority. Even if you can't see the hairs, you can see that it is finely punctate on pronotum and elytra (each hair arises from a puncture), and some of the hairs are catching the light towards the back of the elytra. Fewer still of the hairy carabids are metallic coloured. After that, it's down to a judgement on pronotum shape.

  7. Thanks Matt. Got out the Cilit Bang and dabbed a bit on the lichen with a cotton bud and it went orange! So I was right to change my mind - great!

    Thanks Mark. I still have the blighter so I'll have a good look at it under the microscope.