Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Skye - Why the long face?

Ooof, been a while since I updated - three weeks in fact. I've only been out a few times and managed to scrape up another 50 odd species including ten that were lifers for me. First lifer was Bombus hortorum, yeah the REALLY REALLY common Garden Bumblebee. I'm not really very into bees (ha, can you tell?) but I keyed this one through and instantly came up with a joke. Would you like to hear it? You would? Cool. A Bombus hortorum walks into a bar and asks for a beer. Barman says, "so...why the long face?" Hahahaa, I crack me up! I'll get me coat.... 

Bombus hortorum alongside its mimic Volucella bombylans
Best find was, of course, The Beast of Boggy Creek. You can read about that on my PSL Blog here.

Finally managed to bag an odonata with several Common Hawkers Aeshna juncea whizzing about the hotel grounds and a handful of Scotch Argus Erebia aethiops have been seen this month too. Moths are around, but I've hardly paid them any attention. Stuff like Udea lutealis, Argyresthia goedartella, Stenoptilia bipunctidactyla and Brown China-mark disturbed by day and the larva of The Spectacle, Phyllonorycter oxycanthae, P.sorbi, Lyonetia clerkella and Grey Dagger noted on vegetation/in their mines.

Grey Dagger larva advising me not to eat it...
Best insect by a country mile though was this bad boy. Spotted whilst ambling along the path at the top of the beach. And yeah, it stopped me dead in my tracks! 

Cynomya mortuorum - the one with the amazing yellow head!
I didn't even know blowflies came in a yellow-headed version, all I could think of was that it looked like a tiny Tachina grossa. Luckily there's only one yellow-headed blowfly, so I didn't even need to pot it up to ID it. Less stunning was this maggot in a mine

Agromyza nana larva in its mine on White Clover
Sticking with inverts, I was happy to find a Dicranopalpus ramosus in the bathroom a week or so back. Last December I discovered there were several on a wall at the other end of the hotel complex which were the first ones for NW Scotland and the Hebs. So it is nice to see that they survived the winter and are still on site. Most NW site in Britain (maybe the world? I'd have to check!)

Dicranopalpus ramosus, sadly not caudatus but still brilliant for up here
Added quite a few vascular plants to the tally and finally topped 250 species in the square. Still loads more that I'm overlooking (grasses, sedges and rushes being the obvious ones) and I'd be surprised if the true tally for the square wasn't nearer 350 species. Common Yellow-sedge was keyed using the BSBI book and was a lifer for me. Hybrid Woundwort was found 35 paces from the nearest  Marsh Woundwort clump and growing right alongside it's other parent, Hedge Woundwort. I'm counting this towards my target of 1000 species as it is a stable hybrid which often exists in the absence of one or other parents. Plus it has its own number in Stace, which as we all know means it's good to tick :) 

Hedge (left), Hybrid (middle) and Marsh (right) Woundworts
Interestingly, the Hybrid Woundwort smells just as disgusting as the Hedge (Marsh is odourless) yet is still in flower (Hedge has just about all gone over now). I couldn't find any Hybrid amongst the Marsh, just with the Hedge. That's probably significant, but I'm not that clued up on plant genetics so shall leave it at that.  Out of the woods and up on a hilltop I stumbled into this stunner

Field Gentian - still the only species of Gentian I've ever seen
Finally, on to the fungi. Autumn is fast approaching and fungi are starting to become more prominent. Unfortunately for me, I'm shite at them. Proper shite. Many Devil's-bit Scabious leaves are infested with Ramularia succisae, which was new for the tally. Other than that I spent a lot of time staring in mild horror at the multitude of waxcap-type things and dung fungi that are beyond my capabilities. I did recognise this one though

Claviceps purpurea - Ergot in some 'grassy stuff'
Time for the list! 

802 - moth - The Spectacle (larva)
803 - bee - Bombus hortorum - PSL Lifer (yeah yeah, get over it...)
804 - dragonfly - Common Hawker
805 - butterfly - Scotch Argus
806 - amphibian - Beast of Boggy Creek (yeehaw!!)
807 - plant - Bulbous Rush
808 - plant - Heath Rush
809 - plant - Common Yellow-sedge PSL Lifer
810 - plant - Flea Sedge
811 - plant - Crested Dog's-tail
812 - fungus - Ramularia succisae (on Devil's-bit Scabious)
813 - moth - Udea lutealis
814 - moth - Phyllonorycter oxycanthae (larva in mine)
815 - sawfly - Fenusa dohrnii - PSL Lifer
816 - plant - Hybrid Woundwort
817 - fungus - Claviceps purpurea (Ergot)
818 - plant - Montbretia (previous plants were all Potts' Montbretia, so had to hunt this out)
819 - harvestman - Dicranopalpus ramosus
820 - plant - Annual Sea-blite
821 - mammal - Weasel (subliminal views only)
822 - mite - Aceria thomasi (masses inside Thyme galls)
823 - plant - Greater Butterfly Orchid (missed off!)
824 - moth - Lyonetia clerkella (larva in mine)
825 - moth - Phyllonorycter sorbi (larva in mine)
826 - hoverfly - Eristalis arbustorum
827 - hoverfly - Cheilosia illustrata
828 - hoverfly - Syrphus ribesii
829 - hoverfly - Eristalis horticola - PSL Lifer
830 - hoverfly - Syritta pipiens
831 - plant - False Brome
832 - moth - Brown China-mark
833 - fly - Agromyza nana (larva in mine)
834 - plant - Marsh Arrowgrass
835 - plant - Marsh Ragwort
836 - moss (!) - Racomitrium lanuginosum
837 - plant - Field Gentian
838 - plant - Purple Moor-grass (missed off!)
839 - plant - Wavy Hairgrass
840 - gall midge - Jaapiella veronicae (lots of galled Germander Speedwell)
841 - moth - Grey Dagger (larva)
842 - moth - Argyresthia goedartella
843 - mite - Aceria nalepai (a few seen inside midrib galls on Alder leaf)
844 - fly - Cynomya mortuorum (Yellow-faced Blowfly) - PSL Lifer
845 - mite - Eriophyes sorbi (lots inside galls on Rowan leaf) - PSL Lifer
846 - mite - Phyllocoptes goniothorax (difficult to find in Hawthorn leaf rolls)
847 - plant - Himalayan Balsam (one plant, which I immediately uprooted. No thanks!)
848 - bug - Water Cricket Velia caprai (ie my supposed Microvelia of earlier this year......)
849 - moth - Stenoptilia bipunctidactyla
850 - hoverfly - Cheilosia bergenstammi - PSL Lifer
851 - hoverfly - Syrphus vitripennis
852 - hoverfly - Cheilosia albitarsus - PSL Lifer
853 - hoverfly - Sphegina clunipes - PSL Lifer
854 - hoverfly - Melanogaster hirtella - PSL Lifer
855 - hoverfly - Platycheirus albimanus

Nice to be reunited with my copy of Hoverflies (Stubbs & Falk) and finally start putting names to pinned bits. Lots more still to go through!


  1. Lovely set of photos as always. Must confess to being a bit envious about your Yellow-faced Fly.

  2. Nice fly. I've tried stringing C.vicina once or twice but the genuine article is hard to miss! Funnily enough I was having a discussion about the woundworts just last week, though I've only recorded hedge in my square. Must look again!

  3. ps those Lucilia won't be so hard with the draft key!

  4. Thank you chaps, yeah that fly was quite an unexpected find (seeing as I didn't know such a thing existed until I was looking at it) and one I hope to see again soon. There's a previous record from Skye, plus dots on the map in Fife and near Bristol so keep your eyes peeled fellas! Ali, trust me, you'll know it when you see it :)

  5. Just discovered that the previous Skye record is from 1953!!!!!