Friday, March 31, 2017

Championship results

Well I was never going to get into the big boys league of 400+ by March but I'm happy I might make the Championship playoffs with 300.

Here's my effort to date

Keith Robson
Waldridge NZ2549 (VC66)

Skye - End of March

So the lowest tides of the spring were pretty much wasted on me. First attempt was rained off, second attempt I had to quit early to start a workshift. I managed a few bits but it was nothing like the crazy tickfest I was hoping for. 

The "rockpooling" habbo - it's all just boulders with wet bits underneath
I did manage to find some fish though, 3 Shore Rocklings and 37 Butterfish. 40 fish under rocks! Pity the diversity wasn't a tad higher though. Here's a pic of one of the Shore Rocklings

12x less common here than Butterfish. Scientific FACT!!!
A flock of 40 or so Common Gulls had formed a long skirmish line across the beach and were following the receding tide across the sands. I could see them picking things from the water. Every once in a while a Herring Gull would fly off with something in its beak. Eventually I flushed them off in order to have any kind of a chance of finding something myself! It's a big enough beach, they settled a hundred metres away and continued their work. In all, I managed a rather pathetic two species new for the year including this young Common Starfish

Asterias rubens - One that the skirmish line of gulls missed!
Quitting the beach I wandered into Uig Woods via Cuil Road. On the way I noticed a clump of Londonpride growing from the middle of a pile of dumped boulders

Very common in gardens around here, must have been thrown out with the boulders
And then growing out of a big mound of vegetated road planings were the newly-emerged fertile shoots of Field Horsetail

Always makes me think of giant sauropods grazing 30ft tall Horsetails!
In the woods I finally got around to ticking off Milesina carpatorum on manky brown Male-fern pinnules. The underside of a rotten log revealed my next lifer in the form of an intricate looking slime mould 

Ceratiomyza fruticulosa - a very commonly encountered species, apparently.
That was it until I finished my shift at 10pm. It had started to rain at about 9pm, reducing to a drizzle by 11pm. I went out checking the security lights on site and, amongst absolutely masses of the black millipede Tachypodoiulus niger, managed to find a single Hebrew Character on a doorframe, a male of The Engrailed in the laundry shed (that's a good moth here on Skye) and a couple of the rather smart craneflies Tipula rufina also in the laundry shed. I captured an Amaurobius that was wandering around - they seem to have suddenly become very common in the outbuildings and corridors here - and it checked out as Amaurobius similis, rather unsurprisingly. 

Tipula rufina - patterned wings and a big black line across the thorax to under the wings
The Engrailed - I may have to paint the walls a more photogenic colour...
I was really hoping to hit 450 by the end of March, pretty much a full month ahead of when I hit 450 in 2013. But did I manage it? Yes, yes I did. And I'm pretty bloody chuffed with it too. 45% of the way into the 1000 in the first quarter of the year, fkk yeah I'm happy with that!

440 - Common Starfish Asteria rubens (echinoderm)
441 - Marine Springtail Anurida maritima (springtail)
442 - Common Whitlowgrass Erophila verna (plant)
443 - Londonpride Saxifraga umbrosa x spathularis = S. x urbium (plant)
444 - Field Horsetail Equisetum arvense (plant)
445 - Creeping Thistle Cirsium arvense (plant)
446 - Hedge Woundwort Stachys sylvatica (plant)
447 - Male-fern Dryopteris filix-mas (plant)
448 - Male-fern Rust Milesina carpatorum (fungus) - Lifer
449 - Coral Slime Mould Ceratiomyza fruticulosa (slime) - Lifer
450 - The Engrailed Ectropis crepuscularia (moth)
451 - Tipula rufina (cranefly) - Lifer
452 - Amaurobius similis (spider)
453 - Hebrew Character Orthosia gothica (moth)
Yeovil ST 52 17; End March update.

With a bit of a push the last few days just managed to get over 200 for The Square. The 400 in 3 month club will have to wait.

Plants 102, Bryophytes 2, Fungi 4, Annelids 3, Spiders 3, Molluscs 6, Myriapods 1, Diptera 8, Hymenoptera 11, Coleoptera 6, Hemiptera 1, Orthoptera 1, Moths 2, Butterflies 5, Other insects 1, Fish 1, Amphibians 1, Birds 43 and Mammals 6. Giving a total of 207 so far.
Maybe another 100 in April??


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Dalgety Bay headtorching - the other half

Aside from the moth species covered previously this two hour session produced an equal amount of non-moth species to the list - mostly arachnid, but also the first lacewing of the year.

Harpactea hombergi was a nice find hunting woodlice on a tree trunk, and even nicer it was an adult male (amazingly all potted specimens were identifiable!)

Harpactea hombergi
Also adult male was this nice and huge Amaurobius ferox, which was so big I thought it was a Tegeneria to begin with

Sticking with arachnids there was Xygiella x-notata (ad. f. - several) and a couple of Harvestmen - Mitopus morio and Platybunus triangularis

To round off the evening a lacewing dropped into a mammoth vein-examining process produced Wesmaelius nervosus. This was a most bizarre catch, as while examining an ivy covered tree it actually fell into the net. Some things just want to be counted!

Total session results:

407 Amaurobius ferox A spider
408 Platybunus triangularis A harvestman
409 Mitopus morio A harvestman
410 Harpactea hombergi A spider
411 Zygiella x-notata A spider
412 Limonia nubeculosa A cranefly
413 Wesmaelius nervosus A brown lacewing

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Dalgety Bay, Fife - Breaching the 400

Broke through the 400 barrier with a nocturnal headtorch rampage with my son. Only two hours wandering along the coastal path through woodland produced 7 species of moth and a few other things besides (not yet determined/added to the list). This probably marks the beginning of the serious invert bothering and I'm looking to April to reach the half way mark. At this rate it'll be a dawdle (!)

Diurnea fagella

Water Carpet

Water Carpet

Agonopterix heracliana

Double-striped Pug
397 Platycheirus albimanus A hoverfly
398 Andrena bicolor Gwynne's Mining Bee
399 Plutella xylostella Diamond-back Moth
400 Gymnoscelis rufifasciata Double-striped Pug
401 Conistra vaccinii Chestnut
402 Lampropteryx suffumata Water Carpet
403 Agonopterix heracliana Common Flat-body
404 Diurnea fagellaMarch Tubic
405 Orthosia cerasi Common Quaker
406 Cytisus scoparius Broom

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Skye - Insects!

Been slacking with my updates this week. Weather has been glorious most days with flies finally starting to appear, sunning themselves on fenceposts or busily nectaring at Lesser Celandine/Daffodil flowerheads. Here's a stunner that was new for me, kindly identified online by an expert

The wonderfully patterned Macropelopia nebulosa, a midge
And plenty of these emerging from the river, often landing on me (always a bad idea if you're an invert and I have my pots with me)

Protonemura meyeri, a stonefly that is seemingly common here
Also out sunning itself on a fencepost was my first ladybird of the year. How nice for it not to be a Harlequin. Hopefully it will be many years until they reach Skye. Anyway, this is Larch Ladybird and the first one I've seen for several years

With the amazing scientific name Aphidecta obliterata
Back at the river I spied three water crickets on a quiet backwater pool but they evaded capture. Unlike their tiny tiny cousin which I at first took to be either a very young pondskater or a springtail clambering/paddling its way across the water surface. Turns out it was a Minute Water Cricket, I took it back for closer inspection and keyed it to Microvelia reticulata, a lifer for me

Drying off after being rescued from the meniscus in the lid of a collecting tube!
Last invert of note was this furry fella that I saved from wandering into the road outside the hotel where I live. Apparently the first record from northern half of Skye according to the local moff recorder, coolness! 

Why did the Ruby Tiger caterpillar cross the road.....
But enough of the inverts, I had a MEGA in the square on 23rd March. A Raven called overhed, no big deal as they are always calling overhead. But this one was calling an insistent soft 'prukk-prukk, prukk-prukk, prukk-prukk..' which I hadn't heard before. Looking directly upwards I saw the Raven straight away. Above and ahead of it was the target of it's attention - a full adult GOLDEN EAGLE soaring majestically over my head!!!! Fuckaduck! A fkkn Golden Eagle! In my square! Wow! I watched it through my binoculars for however long it took for it to disappear over the crest of hills to the north. I just stood there with a sloppy, smirky grin on my face. Fkkn Golden Eagle hell yeah! Some things in life just make you stand there with a smile on your mush and there could be a lorry beeping at you to get out of the way, or a dog pissing up your leg and you just wouldn't notice or care. It was about then that I noticed the car beeping at me as I stood in the middle of the road...

I didn't get a photo, but here's one I saw several weeks back in the adjacent square
Ok, so last update I was on 413 species. Here's the recent additions

414 - Flowering Currant (plant)
415 - Scathophaga stercoraria (dungfly)
416 - Milesina dieteliana (microfungus on Polypody) - Lifer
417 - Macropelopia nebulosa (midge) - Lifer
418 - Parmelia sulcata (lichen)
419 - Xanthoriicola physciae (lichenicolous fungus)
420 - Golden Eagle (bird and a half)
421 - Skylark (bird)
422 - Lichenomphalia umbellifera (Basidiolichen) - Lifer
423 - Tachyporus dispar (beetle) - Lifer
424 - Larch Ladybird (beetle)
425 - Xylaria carpophila (fungus)
426 - Bilberry (plant)
427 - Melangyna lasiopthalma (hoverfly) - Lifer
428 - Bombus cryptorum (bumblebee) (note, this is the early-flying 'white-tail' on Skye) - Lifer
429 - Anthocorus nemorum (flowerbug)
430 - Rosebay Willowherb (plant)
431 - Microvelia reticulata (water cricket) - Lifer
432 - Calliphora vomitoria (blowfly) - Lifer (yeah, really - keyed at last)
433 - Ruby Tiger (moth)
434 - Biatropsis usnearum (lichenicolous fungus) - Lifer
435 - Lecanora argentata (lichen) - Lifer
436 - Arthonia radiata (lichen) - Lifer
437 - Ramalina farinacea (lichen)
438 - Arbothallus suecicus (lichenicolous fungus) - Lifer 
439 - Pertusaria leioplaca (lichen) - Lifer

There are crazy low tides here the next few days, I'm gonna be spending time down on the shore searching for the next dozen species to bump me over the 450 mark by the end of the month. Fingers crossed!

Monday, March 27, 2017

NT1582, Dalgety Bay - Surf and surf

Green Shore Crab ... Green Shore Crab ... Green Shore  ... wait! Not Green Shore Crab!

Edible Shore Crab. An amuse-bouche in this case

 A beautiful morning on Saturday and another combo of crab & fish amongst a handful of additions


Busy times yesterday meant no additions, not even to stock

390 Lipophrys pholis Shanny
391 Cancer pagurus Edible crab
392 Veronica filiformis Slender Speedwell
393 Idotea granulosa A marine isopod
394 Lanice conchilega Sand Mason

Chiffchaffs all over the shop this morning so hopefully pick one up on the patch at lunchtime.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Aberbargoed - River and Lanes

417..Bombus hortorum (Bee)
418..Andrena clarkella (Miner Bee)
419..Erophila verna – Common Whitlowgrass
420..Bombus hypnorum (Bee)
422..Scathophaga stercoraria (Fly)
423..Bombus terrestris (Bee)
424..Aglais urticae – Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly
425..Equisetum arvense – Field Horsetail
426..Rosa rugosa – Japanese Rose
427..Schendyla nemorensis (Centipede)
428..Myrmica scabrinodis (Ant)
429..Cryptophagus saginatus (Beetle)
430..Cerastium fontanum – Common Mouse-ear
431..Holcus mollis – Creeping Soft-grass
432..Ribes rubrum – Red Currant
433..Pogonatum aloides (Moss)
434..Marchantia polymorpha (Liverwort)
435..Vanessa atalanta – Red Admiral
436..Ulota bruchii (Moss)
437..Conopodium majus – Pignut
438..Orthotrichum pulchellum (Moss)
439..Bombylius major (Bee-fly)
440..Gonia picea (Fly)
441..Uromyces muscari (Bluebell Rust)
442..Deschampsia cespitosa – Tufted Hair-grass
443..Ulota phyllantha (Moss)
444..Festuca arundinacea – Tall Fescue
445..Veronica beccabunga – Booklime
446..Mentha aquatica – Water Mint
447..Carex remota – Remote Sedge
448..Luzula pilosa – Hairy Wood-rush
449..Oxalis acetosella – Wood Sorrel
450..Polygonia c-album – Comma
452..Silene dioica – Red Campion
453..Coprinus micaceus (Fungus)
454..Uromyces ficariae (Rust)
455..Sitona regensteinensis (Beetle)
456..Pentatoma rufipes – Red-legged Sheildbug
457..Bradycellus sharpi (Beetle)
458..Drymus brunneus (Ground Bug)
459..Lesteva sicula (Beetle)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Skye - Big Year WP Birders

I've been keenly following the exploits of three Swedish birders who, possibly for the first time ever, are going for a properly organised Western Palearctic Big Year. They began the year in Kuwait and have trotted across to Morocco, Spain, Portugal, Holland, Western Sahara, they even turned up here in Britain for a bit of impromptu twitching! Plus they've birded Sweden whilst back home between trips. They've just embarked on a long trip (over 100 days duration) scooping up what they can where they can. They can be followed on their page at Big Year WP 2017

So why am I blethering on about these lads on a 1000 in 1ksq blog? Well because their total for the W.Pal and my total for NG3963 are very similar. They're just about to hit a huge glut of returning summer migrants, I'm hoping for a modest glut of invert activity.  

As of today the Swedes are on 408 species of bird and I'm on 413 species of everything. 

Come 31st December who knows what the figures will say? Will they (or will I) burn out and chuck it all in before then? Will events dictate that we scrap our plans? Or will we both come home in a blaze of glory, new records having been set? Ha yeah, that'd be nice.

My latest pickings 
412 - Oregon-grape (plant)
413 - Cumminsiella mirabilissima Mahonia Rust (microfungus on the Oregon-grape)
414 - Common Quaker (moth) 

I've accidentally counted something I haven't seen yet so my revised total is 413 species. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sand Point VC6

List still growing slowly but surely. I got my first Wheatear at last. Highlight so far has been a Scathophagid netted on seaweed that has just been confirmed by Stuart Ball as Scathophaga calida a first for mainland England with the only other records from Isles of Scilly, Glamorgan and Scotland. Another more common lifer came in the form of Nedyus quadrimaculatus with a mating pair on Nettle.

Algae 7
Slime Mould 1
Lichen 47
Fungi 11
Bryophytes 60
Vascular Plants 78
Cnidarians 1
Molluscs 6
Arachnids 1
Springtails 2
Hymenoptera 2
Coleoptera 5
Diptera 15
Moths 1
Birds 41
Mammals 4
Others 1
Total 283

Scathophaga calida

Nedya quadrimaculata

Monday, March 20, 2017


Had a nice Andrena apicata Scarce (Nb), a lifer which I'm well happy with. Found it settled on top of a large stone (under willow) sheltering from the rain...a nice common lizard under same stone.

A bit miffed as my means of uploading photos has broken, hoping to get this sorted soon as. Managed to get these uploaded before it gave up the ghost. So my next few updates may be lacking images...unless i've already got some on file.

406..Orchestes fagi (Beetle)

407..Isotomurus palustris (Springtail)

408..Endrosis sarcitrella (Moth)

409..Ophiodesmus albonanus (Millipede)
Ophiodesmus albonanus

410..Lacerta vivipara – Common Lizard
Lacerta vivipara – Common Lizard

411..Ribes uva-crispa – Gooseberry

412..Poa annua – Annual Meadow Grass

413..Dactylis glomerata – Cocksfoot

414..Andrena apicata – Large Sallow Mining-bee (lifer)
Andrena apicata – Large Sallow Mining-bee.

Tip of sternite 8 squared off

415..Vicia sativa – Common Vetch
416..Raven (forgot to add this from the beginning of the year)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Here are the scores for County Durham

Yes attempting this again but why,  I've no idea.
Anyway after what appears to be another  slow start,  here are the scores on the doors for NZ2549 - County Durham. I really need the temperatures up,  not just for the species count but for my old bones too.

The best was just the other day when a small white Acleris moth in the garden trap turned out after  its bits were examined by the county recorder as A.logiana and the first for County Durham (VC66).  I've found firsts for the county in the way of birds and flora but after all these years moth trapping this is my first moth.

Here she is (its a girl) A. logiana
 aka Black-headed Birch Leaffolder Moth or Grey Birch Button

So, I'm on 231 at the moment. This time last time it was only 190 but doing the same square will have the great advantage that I know where a lot of the flora, bryophytes etc are which should give me more time to spend on the family groups I'm rubbish at, ie nearly all of them.
Here's the breakdown

Keith Robson
Waldridge NZ2549 (VC66)

Skye - It's a Shore Thing

Only been out a couple of times this past few days. After several days' worth of howling, battering WSW winds and high water in the bay I snuck down to the beach the morning after the winds dropped. Pretty damn good on the water with 4 Great Northern, 2 Black-throated and 1 Red-throated Divers all being new for the year. I managed one superb pic of the Black-throats, clearly good enough even to rule out Pacific Diver, just check out that clean throat and the crown profile

Award-winning camera skillz...
Also trawled through the great heaps of washed up seaweeds finding Dabberlocks Alaria esculenta in good quantity and a few Cuvie stipes with the encrusting red alga (or pinky-purple to be precise) Melobesia membranaceae, both being lifers for me. 

Must be a deep water species, only ever see it washed in after storms
Also found on the Cuvie stipes were lots of weird and wonderful looking bryozoans. I took a batch back with me but couldn't say I was convinced with the IDs of several. However, I was happy with two that were new for me - Callopora lineata and Disporella hispida. Here's a pic of the latter

Disporella hispida alongside the ridged tubes of Janua pagenstecheri
Still on the shore, but above the beach itself, I found a large patch of Yellow Iris pushing through the damp soil and Silverweed is coming through too, both new for the year. I found a dock leaf full of a fruiting microfungus and took that back for a bit of microscopy. 

Turns out to be the very common Venturia rumicis, yet another lifer for me
The next day whilst I was painting a wall, I had a Meadow Pipit fly low overhead - calling like a goodun but heading south. Probably telling it's mates to turn back. This too was a first for the year. Looking forward to more migrants, plenty of Pied Wagtails this past week, plus another Lesser Black-backed Gull (pure...) but I'm just waiting for Wheatear, Skylark, Twite, waders, hirundines and the warblers now! They'll be here soon. 

401 - Black-throated Diver (bird)
402 - Red-throated Diver (bird)
403 - Great Northern Diver (bird)
404 - Dabberlocks  Alaria esculenta (marine alga) - Lifer
405 - Melobesia membranaceae (marine alga) - Lifer
406 - Callopora lineata (bryozoan) - Lifer
407 - Disporella hispida (bryozoan) - Lifer
408 - Yellow Iris (plant)
409 - Silverweed (plant)
410 - Venturia rumicis (microfungus) - Lifer
411 - Meadow Pipit (bird)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Aberbargoed - Rhymney River

Turned the rugby off and headed for the river before it got dark. Managed these...

391..Scaphidium quadrimaculatum (Beetle)
Scaphidium quadrimaculatum
392..Asellus aquaticus (Hoglouse)
393..Tilia cordata (Tree)
394..Exidia glandulosa (Fungus)
Exidia glandulosa
395..Carex paniculata - Greater tussock sedge
396..Lithobius melanops (Centipede)
397..Phoxinus phoxinus – Common Minnow
398..Plasmopara nivea (Fungus)
399..Apium nodiflorum – Fool's Water-cress
400..Ancylus fluviatilis – River Limpet
Ancylus fluviatilis – River Limpet

401..Elasmostethus interstinctus (Shieldbug)
Elasmostethus interstinctus - Birch Shieldbug

402..Lumbricus terrestris (Worm)
Lumbricus terrestris - Earthworm. Ten pence in photo...

403..Protomyces macrosporus (Fungus)
404..Uromyces dactylidis (Fungus)
Uromyces dactylidis on Ficaria verna

405..Potamopyrgus antipodarum (Snail)

Year list currently on 590.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Aberbargoed - Bedwellty Tip

376..Zygiella x-notata (Spider).. from my garden.

377.. Brachyiulus pusillus (Millipede)
Brachyiulus pusillus adult males need to be checked for possible Brachyiulus lusitanus

378..Archiboreoiulus pallidus (Millipede)
Archiboreoiulus pallidus. Going to give these a good look over later for Troglomyces triandrus, a tiny fungus seen as tiny black spots on the mandibles (of males) or antennae (females)

379..Larix kaempferi – Japanese Larch
Larix kaempferi – Japanese Larch

380..Bank Vole (Mammal) first mammal.

381..Auriscalpium vulgare (Fungus)
Auriscalpium vulgare -  
Earpick Fungus
A little closer

382..Salix cinerea – Grey Willow

383..Gerris lacustris (Bug)

384..Anaphalis margaritacea – Pearly Everlasting

385..Trochulus hispidus (Snail)
Trochulus hispidus - Hairy Snail

386..Lepidium didymum – Lesser Swine Cress

387..Megasternum concinnum (Beetle)
Megasternum concinnum

388..Tachyporus pusillus (Beetle)

389..Cotoneaster frigidus (Plant)

390..Cochlicopa lubricella (Snail)