Monday, July 31, 2017

Dalgety Bay - Bikini Bottom Bonanza

For the unenlightened, Bikini Bottom is the home of the one who lives in a pineapple under the sea - Spongebob Squarepants:

While doing not very well at vismigging on Saturday morning in still, clear conditions I decided to do a brief circuit of the point. Noticing that the water was very still I decided to get up high and see if I could spy out any jellyfish. O my prophetic soul! At first I found a few Lion's Manes, apparently hunting close in to the rocks. Then I found one or two Blue Jellyfish also getting in on the action. I had actually thought I might get Moon Jellyfish, and I still might, but getting two on one day was awesome. We are in the midst of a Tree Pipit movement, but I didn't hear or see a one. I did finally manage Swift and House Martin though.

Yesterday I went out for a walk with my wife, who can sense a wild berry a mile away. Walking up a path I've walked several times she suddenly stopped and started tucking into some wild strawberries. I knew they had to be here somewhere. She also found the raspberries, already on the list. If I ever need to play survivalist I surely married the right woman!

The grass-bashing continues, with Common Couch added, despite spending a great deal of time trying to make it be Sand Couch.

805 Sonchus oleraceus Smooth Sow-thistle
806 Apus apus Swift
807 Delichon urbicum House Martin
808 Tanacetum parthenium Feverfew
809 Leucanthemum vulgare Oxeye Daisy
810 Fumaria muralis Common Ramping-fumitory
811 Vanellus vanellus Lapwing
812 Fragaria vesca Wild Strawberry
813 Armillaria mellea Honey Fungus
814 Cyanea lamarckii Blue Jellyfish
815 Cyanea capillata Lion's Mane Jellyfish
816 Elymus repens Couch Grass

Friday, July 28, 2017

Dalgety Bay, Fife - Patch Gold!

Not a phrase I use too often these days though I have started to pick up the binoculars in earnest for vismigging. I did do a bit of vismig in the adjacent square a few years back before moving to a much better location not far away. In those days I didn't live in the square so I had to travel to both (Inverkeithing blog, somewhat disused these days). That site still has the UK record for day Mistle Thrush passage (124 SW in 35 mins!) and the legendary 4k Redwing lunchtime was also had there (link). Not to mention other amazing things I saw from a small square of coastal concrete - Storm and Leach's Petrel, Otter, Pilot Whale ... ah, enough old man reminiscing...

Anyway, I started off this morning looking at mostly empty skies until some inland hirundines forced me to slightly relocate for a better view. As I reached the top of the small rise 6 Black-tailed Godwits flew over my head, but at enough angle that they exposed their lovely upperparts to make life easy. I love those birds, especially wheeling in a big flock. After a brief, very successful, botanical interlude I found myself at another location I wanted to give a try. A lone Goosander barked from the bay in front of me - probably wondering where all her friends had gone. Then a flock of 10 Shoveler made a terrific close flypast - second unexpected bird score of the day. Looking forward to the season starting properly, but those will certainly do for starters!

(note - I know Shoveler is spelled with one "l" but iRecord, where it was cut and pasted from, appparently doesn't!)

In between those I ventured up the coastal ath a bit where somebody has started clearing their garden which was badly overgrown. The garden slopes down to the shore and this chopping back had exposed a small burn (that's a stream for you Southerners!). He's doing some nice landscaping there, but what it also exposed was a shore edge collection of goodies including Tansy, Greater Willowherb and Hedge Bindweed. When the tide's out and time allows I'll have a better rummage around in there. I still have a bag of green to be sorted out this evening. No not that sort. Behave ...

The numbers:
799 Limosa limosa Black-tailed Godwit
800 Tanacetum vulgare Tansy
801 Epilobium hirsutum Great Willowherb
802 Anas clypeata Shoveller
803 Acer campestris Field Maple
804 Calystegia sepium Hedge Bindweed

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Skye - I'm a Creep, I'm a Willow...

Made an incredible discovery yesterday, one that I'm really very excited about...the top of the hill in my square is fairly mundane cow-chomped sward with a few undulations and the crofter's house. Fairly uninspiring stuff, though plenty of flowers to be seen. These were both new additions to the tally

Sneezewort-  dotted about in the grassy sward
As Thom Yorke says, "I'm a Creep, I'm a Willow"...
I decided to venture over one uninspiring undulating slope and came to a shocked halt at the sight ahead of me...oh boy, oh boy, oh boy....I think I may have grinned somewhat!

Blody hell - I have a bog in the square!!!!
With a slight 'whoop' I ran down the slope and straight into a brand new habitat, with associated brand new species. Within moments I had recorded Carnation Sedge, Bog Asphodel, Bog Pondweed, Marsh Cinquefoil, Common Cottongrass, Marsh Lousewort, Marsh Speedwell, Star Sedge, Ragged Robin, Marsh Bedstraw, Cross-leaved Heath, Deer-grass and, best of all, Round-leaved Sundews amongst Pale Butterworts with Lesser Clubmoss alongside!!! Here's the proof

This is my favourite square foot of NG3963. AWESOME!!!
I have a thing for carnivorous plants and Pale Butterwort eluded me for many a year. You can imagine the glee on my face when I found these beauties! No idea what the Sphagnums are, I'll get back to them some other time. The whole bog is maybe only a couple of acres in extent but it kept me quiet for some time. The hopper Cicadella viridis was absolutely abundant and a stunning Volucella bombylans landed on a flowerhead nearby. It zoomed off before I could take a pic, but it was very, very smart!
Eventually I quit the boggy hollow and hit Uig Woods. Different habbo, different suite of species. Tree leaves are getting interesting at last with a few lep mines noted

Stigmella floslactella mine on Hazel leaf
Stigmella magdalenae mine on Rowan leaf
Sycamore white Spot Cristulariella depraedans on Sycamore leaf
 Also found in the woods was this monster!

Pedicia rivosa - one very smart cranefly!
All in all it was quite a successful outing. And, rather surprisingly, one that nudged me over the 800 species mark in my 1000 species in a 1km square Challenge. That bog has raised my hopes that amphibians may actually occur in my square. We shall see. Now the list, feel free to skip it!

765 - Plant - Bell Heather (simply overlooked until in flower)
766 - Plant - Viviparous Sheep's Fescue
767 - Plant - Sneezewort
768 - Plant - Creeping Willow
*discovered the boggy area!*
769 - Plant - Carnation Sedge
770 - Plant - Bog Asphodel
771 - Plant - Marsh Cinquefoil
772 - Plant - Bogbean
773 - Plant - Common Cottongrass
774 - Plant - Marsh Lousewort
775 - Bug - Cicadella viridis
776 - Plant - Marsh Violet
777 - Plant - Ragged Robin
778 - Plant - Marsh Bedstraw
779 - Plant - Marsh Speedwell
780 - Plant - Marsh Willowherb
781 - Plant - Cross-leaved Heath
782 - Plant - Bottle Sedge
783 - Plant - Round-leaved Sundew
784 - Plant - Star Sedge
785 - Plant - Bog Pondweed
786 - Plant - Many-stalked Spike-rush
787 - Plant - Pale Butterwort
788 - Plant - Lesser Clubmoss
789 - Plant - Deer-grass
790 - Moth - Antler Moth
791 - Hoverfly - Volucella bombylans
792 - Plant - Red Bartsia
793 - Plant - Short-fruited Willowherb
794 - Plant - Creeping Forget-me-not
795 - Moth - Phyllonorycter coryli 
796 - Cranefly - Pedicia rivosa - Lifer!
797 - Bug - Evacanthus interruptus
798 - Plant - Devil's-bit Scabious
799 - Fungus - Sawadaea bicornis (Sycamore Mildew)
800 - Gall-midge - Dasineura urticae
801 - Moth - Stigmella magdalenae
So, just 200 more species required to complete The Challenge. After that everything is a bonus...

Friday, July 21, 2017

Dalgety Bay, Fife - Bee, lines

A mixed day of this and that yesterday with more effort on autumn moving birds not being rewarded much. Hopefully a renewed effort on grasses will reap some rewards, at least in an improved understanding of them.

If you had asked me in January at what point Roe Deer would appear on the list I would never have guessed species #782! Still, it's only July I suppose and I may have been more surprised to be at this advanced number. Comparison of number with previous numbers from Cullaloe is interesting. I seem to be at a steady state of what I can identify. The numbers are so constant as to look artificial but despite variations day by day and week by week the overall rate is remarkably constant.

A nice bee yesterday is one of the county's only two Colletes - C.succinctus

782 Capreolus capreolus Roe Deer
783 Colletes succinctus Heather Colletes
784 Hypochaeris radicata Cat's ear

Friday, July 14, 2017

Dalgety Bay, fife - Much ado about mothing

Finally the 3/4 is breached with a final spurt after a bit of a crawl.

But first some nice flies. The second of the county's three Rhinophoridae species, and the only other one I've seen, was swept from grass yesterday lunchtime - Paykullia maculata. This was accompanied by the lovely tachinid Eriothrix rufomaculata, a new and long-anticipated addition to my tachinid list.

Ariothrix rufomaculata

A late evening rain cleared in time for me to head out at dusk (and then it rained a bit more but not too bad).

A few moth additions were made, along with a whole bunch of non-new species. I also stumbled into the discovery that I had probably misidentifed Smoky Wainscot previously - an error which I'll correct inline 1984 style. That will leave the impression that I never screwed it up in the first place, unless someone discovers this confession ...

Also netted on a flypast was a Brown Chafer, whose distribution displays the usual characters for a scarcely recorded species - an east coast distribution on NBN and in Brock and a Nature of fife inventory which says the species is abundant coastally. Seems to be as I also had one in my garden last week.

Small Fan-foot
Brown Chafer and mothy ick

750 Paykullia maculata Picture-winged Woodlouse-fly
751 Eriothrix rufomaculata A tachinid fly
752 Serica brunnea Brown Chafer
753 Xestia triangulum Double Square-spot
754 Herminia grisealis Small Fan-foot
755 Scoparia subfusca A micromoth
756 Mesoligia furuncula Cloaked Minor

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Skye - limping past the 3/4 stage

Finally put paid to the slowest 50 species EVER and have now made it across the 750 species mark. It's taken me precisely a month to scrape those fifty species together but, as of a couple of days back, I'm once again back in the frame of mind for square-bashing action! 

So what happened? Well I think I needed a break from a lack of inverts, a lack of good weather and a break from enjoying too many bottles of vino and cans of beer. So I took myself out and joined a botany outing up a mountainside and jumped on a boat and went plundering across the bay which helped re-ignite my passion for wildlife recording. Combine that with a couple of stunningly gorgeous days this week and BOOM!, I'm alive again. 

Last update (a month ago!) I was at 702 species. Now I'm at 755 species. The intervening 53 species include a healthy 21 lifers including the first record of Mompha propinquella for Skye, swept from my back garden yesterday. Also swept in that same 5 or 6 minutes were Marsh Damselbug Nabis limbatus and Potato Capsid Closterotomus norwegicus, both lifers for me. I should probably start paying more attention to my own back garden...

Mompha propinquella - new for me and new for VC104
A personal highlight was discovering a large mat of Bog Stitchwort whilst changing the filter of a water tank up the hill. I've been looking for Bog Stitchwort for maybe ten years without success, usually along dark, wooded streams. Yet this was in a huge open patch of grassland growing in the wet channel next to the water tanks, unexpected but totally brilliant! 

Bog Stitchwort - nailed!
Insects have slowly begun to show themselves at long last. I mean, it is only July after all...

The Tephrtitid Xyphosia miliaria on its larval foodplant
The large click Hemicrepidius hirtus - locally becoming quite common now
Depressaria daucella on Hemlock Water-dropwort
Monosoma pulverata on an Alder leaf today
I've a million and one things on pins which I can start going through next week...yep, I'm finally making the trip back down to Southampton to collect the rest of my worldly belongings. So I'll be reunited with my books and keys once more. Damn but it's been a long time. Eight months, in fact! Eight months since I've set foot off of Skye, seen a set of traffic lights or dual carriageway. Eight months since I've seen a Tesco, McDonalds or Pizza Hut. Eight months since I've seen a highrise building, seen a Magpie, Mute Swan or Coot.'s been fkkn great!!!! 

The numbers bit - 

703 - bird - Spotted Flycatcher (nesting by the river)
704 - fungus - Sycamore White Spot (on living sycamore leaves)
705 - fly - Agromyza idaeiana (larva seen in mine) - Lifer
706 - plant - Hollyberry Cotoneaster (birdsown all over the place)
707 - fungus - Erysiphe ulmariae (all over Meadowsweet plants) - Lifer
708 - plant - Pineappleweed (common along tracks)
709 - plant - Redshank (common along a few tracks)
710 - plant - Marsh Cudweed (scattered along one track edge)
711 - hoverfly - Sericomyia silentis (at Hogweed)
712 - microlep - Bactra lanceolana (1 swiped as it flew past my nose)
713 - bug - Leptoterna dolabrata (common in long grasses)
714 - blowfly - Lucilia caesar (common in woodland edge) - Lifer
715 -  hprsefly - Notch-horned Cleg (common whenever I'm mowing at 3km per hour grrrrr...)
716 - aphid - Eriosoma ulmi (many galled Wych Elm leaves with these inside) - Lifer
717 - plant - Bog Stitchwort (party in my pants!) - Lifer
718 - plant - Eyebright (Euphrasia arctica if my keying out is any good)
719 - gall midge - Iteomyia capraea (larva extracted from gall on Salix) - Lifer
720 - macrolep - Common Wave (frequently day-disturbed in UigWoods)
721 - gall midge - Chirosia betuleti (many galled tips to Dryopteris fronds)
722 - beetle - Hemicrepidius hirtis (common hairy black click) - Lifer
723 - fly - Xyphosia miliaria (a common tephritid on Marsh Thistles) - Lifer
724 - macrolep - Chimney Sweeper (one seen flying along Cuil Road verge)
725 - plant - Heath Fragrant Orchid (common in this area) - Lifer
726 - plant - Tufted Vetch (sparingly in verges)
727 - Hedgerow Cranesbill (sparingly in overgrown verges)
728 - beetle - Malthodes marginatus (swept from umbellifer heads)
729 - beetle - Otiorhynchus singularis (ace weevil, commonly seen) - Lifer
730 - gall midge - Dasineura rosae (several larvae in a puckered leaf) - Lifer
731 - fungus - Puccinia arenaria (many Red Campion leaves show this) - Lifer
732 - sawfly - Scolioneura betuleti (larva seen in mine on Downy Birch) - Lifer
733 - sawfly - Fenusa ulmi - (larva seen within mine on Wych Elm) - Lifer
734 - macrolep - Large Yellow Underwing (flushed whilst mowing)
735 - fly - Chromatomyia primulae (larva seen within mine on Primrose) - Lifer
736 - microlep - Depressaria daucella (many larva in Hemlock Water-dropwort patch)
737 - macrolep - Magpie Moth (common up here)
738 - microlep - Pseudargyrotoza conwagana (swept in woodland)
739 - harvestman - Leiobunum rotundum (one on a wall)
740 - mammal - Common (Bandit/45khz) Pipistrelle (several in the house!)
741 - mammal - Common Shrew (1 watched hunting in a tree stump, Uig Woods)
742 - microlep - Phyllonorycter rajella (mines on Alder in Uig Woods)
743 - beetle - Rhagonycha fulva (getting commoner by the day on umbels...)
744 - macrolep - Mottled Beauty (disturbed by day)
745 - plant - Smooth Hawk's-beard (suddenly quite common)
746 - plant - Common Cat's-ear (realised I'd overlooked this thus far!)
747 - microlep - Mompha propinquella (swept from my back garden) - Lifer
748  - bug - Nabis limbatus (swept from my back garden) - Lifer
749 - bug - Closterotomus norwegicus (swept from my back garden) - Lifer
750 - plant - Common Lime (planted tree with self-seeded ones nearby)
751 - fungus - Asteroma impressum (infecting leaves of Coltsfoot) - Lifer
752 - plant - Upland Enchanter's Nightshade (small patches in the woods)
753 - sawfly - Monosoma pulverata (a larva on Alder leaf today) - Lifer
754 - fly - Leucozona glaucia (stunning hoverfly swept from Hogweed) - Lifer
755 - bug - Capsus ater (swept from rank herbage)

Looking forward to the next 245 species, I have the bit between my teeth again!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Dalgety Bay, Fife - Set Phasias to stun!

Flies definitely stole the limelight yesterday with my first female Phasia hemiptera - what a corker! The male I found a couple of years back and that was a good day too. Both of them were on hogweed.

A few minutes later, above a rotten log on a mayweed flower, where these things like to hang about, was the louse fly Rhinophora lepida. The only other louse fly I've seen was also above a rotten log on the shore edge - plenty of victims to be had! On NBN this species is southern only, but the draft key intriguingly says distribution is "north to Fife".

A bonus from yesterday was a grass, pre-identified by the local woodland group, which I just had to go and see. I need to hook up with whoever ID'd it so they can show me the 20 others I don't have yet.

Phasia hemiptera female


Rhinophora lepida

743 Rinodina sophodes A lichen
744 Phasia hemiptera A tachinid fly
745 Rhinophora lepida A louse fly
746 Campanula rotundifolia Harebell
747 Phleum bertolonii Smaller Cat's-tail

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Waldridge - Good old moths

 Still cursing the weather. All the good days and I'm out of the square doing things, and of course whenever I'm back at home it raining. As I always knew (and planned) I am heavily reliant on vascular plants and moths to get to the 1000 species. In fact with a bit of concentrated effort I think I could get 700 species on these two groups alone. I have the advantage of doing the 1000 species in a 1km square before, and in this square, so its easier for me than others, but I would be stuffed if I had to do it elsewhere.

Despite the rain, the moths in particular have been quite decent, pushing me over the 800 mark. A Painted Lady, got me to 20 butterflies with just two hairstreaks to go. Should really have had both by now.

The total to date

Keith Robson
Waldridge VC66

Friday, July 7, 2017

Dalgety Bay, fife - Is this the real flie ...

Another dipteran county first at lunchtime with the tephritid Anomoia purmunda swept from the shore-side vegetation. Only two other Scottish records exist on NBN but with larvae feeding in all kinds of berries from Hawthorn to Berberus it surely must be all over the area if it's here.

It was a good session with (finally!) Mesembrina meridiana and Scathophaga furcata putting in an appearance, along with a Sphegina which will need further examination to get to species.

A bit of focus on fungi produced only Gymnopus confluens, but with that the tenth fungal addition this month I'm not complaining.


730 Mesembrina meridiana A muscid fly
731 Collybia confluens A mushroom
732 Scathophaga furcata A Scathophagid fly
733 Aethes cnicana Thistle Conch
734 Anomoia purmunda A tephritid fly

(a complete account, but often the same stuff cut and pasted, can be found at:

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Dalgety Bay, Fife - Back in the Saddle

After a couple of days of rain I thought it would be worth looking for some mushrooms and I wasn't disappointed - though the small collection will take some time to work through. One that won't take much is the big polypore Dryad's Saddle, which was in fine fettle.

Other than my mycological homework bits of this and that were picked up, including things that really ought to have been recorded earlier. A half hour river watching produced little of interest, unless you count the cordon of female RB Mergansers that I tried to string into Goosanders until they came too close for plausible deniability. Bit early for the Goosanders, though they will come almost certainly.

712 Myosotis arvensis Common Forget-Me-Not
713 Trifolium pratense Red Clover
714 Plantago maritima Sea Plantain
715 Polyporus squamosus Dryad's Saddle
716 Lolium perenne Perennial ryegrass
717 Rhagonycha fulva Common Red Soldier Beetle

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Waldridge end of June update

I'm beginning to be weather obsessed.
It's stopped raining after 4 days of dark skies and virtually non-stop peeing down. 6pm on Thursday and had to put the lights on in the house so we could see! It's only a few days past the longest day for Pete's sake.

Anyway the total stands at 778 (summary below), well ahead of 2013 (I was on 601 on 23rd June)   - and if the weather holds, with my sweep net and pooter,  I could get 800 by next weekend. Should even be able to get the moth trap out again

Keith Robson
Waldridge (VC66)