Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Dalgety Bay - kissing frogs

Yesterday (as today) I didn't have much time in the field. As a temporarily single dad I had lunchtime to gather material and oodles of time in the study once the manchild was tucked up in bed. The priority therefore was to gather material! With a reachable target I went to the ground game and gathered promising leaf and wood litter for later perusal. This is a methodology I learned on a microfungi weekend I had with some fungus-bothering friends and very productive it can be too.

On this occasion I was spending a lot of time kissing frogs to find a prince. Some species were too immature to separate (there are two very similar pyrenomycetes which like sycamore petioles) while some pluriverous fungi which might have been doable evaded me. I found one birch leaf in the mix which is normally good for a couple of banker species. It was bare. I still managed to put up 3 new species which pushed me within reach of success.

Then, when I woke up this morning it dawned on me that I have two enormous birch trees in my garden! Bingo! Both common species of fallen birch leaves were quickly rounded up before the school run. Three to go. Surely nothing could go wrong.

The Mycena below is the kind of thing you think you have no chance of identifying. It's the Dewdrop Bonnet and on its stipe it has tortuose cystidia. These hold onto water droplets and so are responsible for both its English and scientific names. I've already recorded it but it's a lovely thing.

Botryobasidium aureum (conidial stage)

Hemimycena tortuosa

Birch leaf Gnomonia and Venturia

Dicyrtomina fusca

326 * fungus Botryobasidium aureum A corticioid fungus
327 * collembola Dicyrtomina fusca A springtail
328 fungus Merismodes anomala A fungus
329 fungus Gnomonia alni-viridis a pyrenomycete
330 fungus Venturia ditricha a pyrenomycete

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Dalgety Bay - last orders!

1.5 days to go until January closes and 333 is definitely doable!

 A somewhat disappointing night at the microscope revealed lots of duplication but some headway was made during the whole of yesterday. An empty moth trap (no by-catch) edged the chances further away. This morning it was 14 species to go in two days ("far from impossible").

Lunchtime was very kind with a good variety of lichen and fungus ID'd in the field and taken for this evening's edutainment

One of the things I experienced yesterday was that whereas last year I could turn over most logs and stones on my square in a lunchtime, and I knew where they were, this square has a much greater collection of deadwood and stones both and so there's no way I can cover them all, even in one woodland. Bodes well for the rest of the year. (edit: this continues as fallen and damp deadwood produces the goods with a smorgasbord of fungi - I've reached last year's June total)

Eutypella scoparia

310 flowering plant Lonicera periclymenum Honeysuckle
311 crustacean Philoscia muscorum Common Striped Woodlouse
312 fungus Tubaria furfuracea A mushroom
313 spider Kaestneria pullata A linyphiid spider
314 flowering plant Viola riviniana Common Dog-violet
315 millipede Brachysdesmus superus A millipede
316 fungus Exidia glandulosa A fungus
317 fungus Eutypella scoparia A fungus
318 fungus Hypoxylon multiforme A fungus
319 lichen Lecidella elaeochroma A lichen
320 lichen Rhizocarpon geographicum A lichen
321 lichen Lepraria incana A lichen
322 fungus Bisporella citrina Lemon Disco
323 fungus Eutypa maura A fungus
324 fungus Byssomerulius corium Netted Crust
325 lichen Arthonia radiata A lichen

Addendum - best birds seen from bedroom window -
Little Green Bee-eater - Dubai
Pied and Pygmy Kingfishers - Pretoria
Laughing Dove, Alpine Swift, ST. Eagle - Istanbul
Stork nest on roof - Poland (noisy!)
Waxwings - Scotland (well, why not)

Monday, January 29, 2018

Bedroom window goodies

A few nice birds from my bedroom window today - male Hen Harrier, 6 Whooper Swans, 3 Cranes, 2 Greylags, several hundred Pink-feet, Barn Owl, 2 Marsh Harriers, Shelduck, 2 Egyptian Geese and 3 Buzzards.

Dalgety Bay - stretching the (many, many) legs

A good weekend, especially for myriapods, took me comfortably over the 300 target. Partly this was a fortunate run of good luck and partly this was due to Seth setting a rip-roaring pace which encouraged me to try to keep up! It doesn't hurt that many of the species I met as new last year can be easily confirmed this year instead of labouring for hours over them. Lifer ratio is running at about 6%, as might be expected in the early days of new year, and nothing spectacular has been encountered so far.

The bryophyte total of last year has already been passed. The myriapod total is now equalled and with some easily encountered species not listed yet I fully expect to beat that too. It took me until March to count this many fungi last year! Probably over the next three days I'll major on microfungi. Since my wife's away I'll focus on gathering material for those long nights in.

298 diptera Lonchoptera lutea A fly
299 coleoptera Nebria brevicollis A ground beetle
300 * spider Monocephalus fuscipes A linyphiid spider
301 mollusc Lauria cylindracea Common Chrysalis Snail
302 bird Columba livia Feral Pigeon
303 mollusc Lehmannia marginata Tree Slug
304 collembola Tomoceros longicornis A springtail
305 millipede Ommatoiulus sabulosus Striped Millipede
306 * millipede Cylindroiulus brittanicus A millipede
307 millipede Julus scandinavius A millipede
308 moss Platyhypnidium riparioides A moss

Saturday, January 27, 2018

New spider for the garden

Been poorly for the past 10 days, so not much recording recently. Pleased to get a new money spider for the garden this morning, Diplocephalus cristatus. A small linyphiid, not much hope of identifying it without a microscope. A couple of White-fronted Geese amongst the more regular Pink-footed Geese yesterday. Takes garden list to 1726.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Hawfinch and updates

Very pleased to finally get a showing of some Hawfinch in the square - part of this years amazing influx.
Attached is my 'record shot' Not a good photo (perhaps Seth and I can start another challenge for the worst, but still recognisable, photo of a rare or scarce!) but I'm happy with it! And Hawfinch's don't often let you get very close.

As for the update the Yeovil square has now got to 148 species recorded and Eype 124. (Will add a more detailed breakdown next time)
My first attempt at using Blogger, don't have much clue, but here goes:

Horsey Corner (TG4523, East Norfolk) is a 1 km square close to the sea to the east and the Norfolk Broads to the west. It's a small hamlet surrounded by agricultural land with typical broadland drainage dykes. Most of the square is part of a large estate which doesn't allow access, so the vast majority of the records in this area come from my garden. My 2018 garden list is currently 221 species, broken down as follows:

Fungi/Lichens 3
Bryophytes 3
Vascular Plants 28
Molluscs 2
Arachnids 23
Myriapods 2
Crustaceans 2
Springtails 3
Insects: Hemipteroids 18
Insects: Coleoptera 42
Insects: Diptera 25
Insects: Moths 4
Insects: RSO 2
Birds 60
Mammals 4
Grand Totals 221

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Dalgety Bay - Creeping up on 300

With much improved weather and no domestic duties to perform at lunchtime I was able to go out and play in the spring sunshine, vastly increasing my chances of tipping over 300 this month. After finding Strigia maritima in December 2016 I finally re-connected with it in my new square after failing to for the entirety of 2017! A very centipede-y couple of days.

Last night I was able to figure out the 10mm long Geophilus truncorum, which is new to me. Maybe I'll even start to figure out how to handle millipedes, one of which I still have issues with despite its apparently being an adult male with appendages.

Geophilus truncorum

Geophilus truncorum

Nemastoma bimaculatum

Strigia maritima

284 * fungus Stegonosporium pyriforme A coelomycete
285 coleoptera Omalium riparium A Rove Beetle
286 moss Bryoerythrophyllum recurvirostrum A moss
287 * centipede Geophilus truncorum A centipede
288 harvestman Nemastoma bimaculata A harvestman
289 diptera Phaonia subventa A muscid fly
290 centipede Strigia maritima A centipede
291 flowering plant Narcissus pseudonarcissus Daffodil
* = lifer

(might as well throw this out there because it will be obvious to someone else! I had it down as Craspedosoma rawlinsii to begin with but I can't convince myself)

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Dalgety Bay - In the Garage

Earlier in the year I noticed that my garden rubbish bin had a collected smear of rotting grass on its rim which had acquired some dipteran larvae and even pupae. So I scraped it off and stuck it in a jar.

Last night when sorting stuff for kitchen work I noticed the jar and had a peek inside to find that I had birthed at least a Sylvicola fenestralis. I'll have another look later to see what else may be in there.

280 lep-moth Rusina ferruginea Brown Rustic
281 hymenoptera Neuroterus anthracinus Oyster-gall Causer
282 diptera Sylvicola fenestralis A fly
283 lichen Lecanora soralifera A lichen

Monday, January 22, 2018

Dalgety Bay - Gorse Code

Quickie update with a typical trio of gorse beetles beaten out of coastal gorse (no Lonchoptera though - surpising, though it was very cold). A routine trio of Micrambe ulicis, Andrion regensteinense and Exapion ulicis were extracted.

A few other bits and pieces too, including getting ahead of the game on moths with a Brown Rustic caterpillar in a woodland tussock.

A mob of guys arrived at my house this morning at 8:00 and by 8:30 most of kitchen was gone. I'm optimistic that they might not even completely kill off listing for the rest of January, though I'll be removing wallpaper for any spare time I would have had this evening.

New total 278. 300 not out of the question by end of January but it would be a good result.

Lovely Caloplaca (nowBlastenia) crenularia

Exapion ulicis

Andrion regensteinense

thanks to John Langmaid on the facebook uk micro moths page I can now also add Caloptilia rufipennella beaten from gorse. Gorse and Yew seem to be very good for harbouring wintering small inverts.279!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Skye - Bananabill

Been busy helping to rip out walls, floors, running cables, shifting stuff, burning stuff, fixing stuff all week. I was due to have the weekend off, but had to just quickly finish fitting a new floor to a staff bathroom which took up the bulk of the morning. Otherwise I'd have been off down the beach to see what I could see. 

Which is why the arrival of the only other local birder, waving and yelling at me to "grab your bins and a camera" was met with mixed emotions as he drove me down the road that runs along the top of the beach and very definitely well within the confines of my square. "White-billed Diver out there, was with a couple of Great Northerns earlier" Shit a brick, that was unexpected! 

Quick bit of scanning and I thought I had it, though we needed the extra power of Martin's scope to clinch the ID. Fuckaduck, White-billed Diver in the bay! I only managed atrocious pics, here are a couple of the *ahem* 'best'....

And a HUGE crop just so you can see the banana

All in all, a bit of a beast! I've seen a couple off Skigersta Head, Lewis and an immature in a creek down in Cornwall, but this is the first I've seen for at least ten years, I guess. Good hit, Martin. I'm just a tad gutted that I was faffing with a floor rather than out and about else it would have been my bird. Ho hum. 

In other news, whilst caulking and filling in a back room I found a larder beetle, first one in over six months. I was getting worried we'd actually eradicated them! 

289 - Aulacomnium palustre (bryophyte)
290 - Pediastrum angulosum (freshwater alga)
291 - Micrasterias denticulata (freshwater alga)
292 - Pleurotaenium trabecula (freshwater alga)
293 - Pleurotaenium ehrenbergii (freshwater alga) - Lifer 4857
294 - Euastrum ansatum (freshwater alga) - Lifer 4858
295 - Tetmemorus brebissonii (freshwater alga) - Lifer 4859
296 - Dermestes haemorrhoidalis (a larder beetle)
297 - White-billed Diver (a monster of a bird!)

Should be able to top 300 tomorrow (it's my birthday, so I ain't workin' it!) though the weather looks pretty awful for the next week or so beginning late tonight. 333 is still my target for end of the month. Crazy fool that I am.  

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Dalgety Bay - the first quarter

With the square under snow I revisited a small ascomycete pulled from a rotten log at the weekend which had given me the runaround the previous evening. Finally after scouring the books and some false starts on the keys I nailed it down. Funnily enough as soon as I knew what it was I was able to see features that had eluded me though they were obvious. Ascocoryne sarcoides is a frequent sight in any woodland but one disc of it's congener Ascocoryne cylichnium completely threw me. There was only one disc, hence the keying false starts. Only working back from the fantastic spores was I able to put the other pieces in place. These spores bud off mini-spores, which is a very funky thing to do.  You can see from the pics below that the images are full of these tiny spores which I had managed not to see as significant until I already knew they were. Anyway, it was a nice small victory and a nice lifer to bring up the 250th species

chopped in half for  squishing

Ascus tips blued with iodine

Spores and tons of mini-spores

Spore illustration in Dennis

Fungi of Switzerland

Spore and baby

This morning I was stuck in weather related traffic so baled out and went for a ten minute walk, managing to snag a nice winter thrush combo without waiting until October


So now I'm at 252 and everything else this month is a bonus. Some of the categories I'm already past last year's February total, so all in all very happy with the start. Let's see whether my new kitchen fitting screws up the rest of the month!

A bonus one because (a) it's nice and (b) probably everyone else can find it on Betula twigs near them - Pseudovalsa lanciformis. This was species 247 or something

Monday, January 15, 2018

Dalgety Bay - Filthy scum!

Nothing could be more delightful than coming across a fast running stream with a catchpoint full of filthy, frothy scum!

That is, when you have Ingold in your library...

Ingold treats the delightful creatures that are aquatic hyphomycetes and aquatic hyphomycete spores are nothing if not weird and wonderful. They grow on submerged leaves and release their spores downstream. These spores then get caught up in the bubbles of the scum and wait for me to scoop them into a pot and stick them under a microscope (that's what they're doing, right?). Do it quick, though, because if they settle on anything - like the bottom of the pot - they will start to grow and you won't get them under the lens. Best to put the bubbles straight onto the microscope slide. You can fix them by adding alcohol to the mix, which stops them from growing, but I haven't tried this. Here are some of these beauties...

Tetracladium setigerum - my fave, but not from this square

Alatospora acuminata - "flapping bird" - the most common

Tetracladium marchalianum - note family resemblace

Not sure yet, but we live in hope ... (Clavariopsis aquatica!)
Apart from that fun and frolics (two drops, half an hour, 5 species) the weekend went swimmingly with more exploration of the marshy, boggy wonder that is Ross Plantation and a good helping of routine birds finally getting on board. If anyone wants to play with froth but lacks Ingold I'm happy to name anything obvious from photos. The book isn't that big and ID for some of them is really, really obvious.

(EDIT! Lookie here! I found an online key. No idea how good it is, but it looks like it ought to work: AQUATIC HYPHOMYCETE KEY)

One thing's for certain - I'm benefitting from last year's exercise as I can quickly check species that were new to me last year. Including this coastal Halorates reprobus I found under a rock at the edge of the bay.

So here we are at 242, and the last ten ...

232 fungus Xylaria polymorpha Dead Man's Fingers
233 lichen Lecanora chlarotera A lichen
234 moss Plagiothecium undulatum Waved Silk-moss
235 liverwort Pelia epiphylla Overleaf Pellia
236 coleoptera Leistus rufomarginatus A ground beetle
237 fungus Brachysporium masonii A hyphomycete
238 diptera Crumomyia nitida A lesser dung fly
239 diptera Thoracochaeta zosterae A lesser dung fly
240 bird Sturnus vulgaris Starling
241 lichen Candelariella vitellina A lichen
242 fungus Stereum gausapatum A fungus

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Skye - This week, I 'ave been mostly strugglin'

Not much to add from last week's tally, mostly because the hotel is having the main reception/dining hall/toilets refurbed and I've been busy helping to create and then clear up the ensuing mess. And boy, what a mess! Several walls and partitions are no more, new walls and partitions are up, and the cables, don't even get me started on the cables! But things have been seen, identified and logged. Not many, but some. 

Oligolophus hanseni - cunningly trapped in a home-made spi-pot type thingie....
The nitty gritty end of Phragmidium violaceum
Common Earwig - the only orthopteroid I've ever recorded from far...

Numbers wise I'm currently languishing on 272. I was sneakily hoping to hit 333 by the end of the month, but I think that's just pie in the Skye now. I was also supposed to be getting to grips with bryophytes this month. Hmmm, we shall see.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Dalgety Bay - 200 (and 1) up

View to the distant yacht club at the other end of my square

A few more species which are more or less routine, and with a fair list of birds which ought to be around things are ticking along relatively smoothly. I picked up three species of millipede yesterday but they just kill me. Two I couldn't identify and the other was a juvenile Polydesmus. No idea why I have such a hard time with them. I end up in couplets where I know both answers are nonsense. Maybe I need a different key.

Here are a couple of pics of things that I could identify.

Coleroa robertiani, very common on Herb Robert

Leaf miner Phytomyza chaerophylli

The starry Homalothecium sericeum - a common wall dweller

Equipment feature - a £2 craft box for mosses and small fungi and a pot for catching non-flying inverts courtesy of my local takeaway. Both invaluable!

I also just noticed that today's additions bring the bryophyte total up to the year total for 2017! Still a bit of fishing left in that pond though.

And some numbers ...
191 moss Homalothecium sericeum Silky Wall Feather-moss
192 moss Mnium hornum Swan's-neck Thyme-Moss
193 mollusc Aegopinella nitidula Smooth Glass Snail
194 diptera Phytomyza chaerophylli Cow parsley Leaf Miner
195 bird Carduelis carduelis Goldfinch
196 bird Fringilla coelebs  Chaffinch
197 bird Larus fuscus Lesser Black-backed Gull
198 bird Podiceps cristatus Great Crested Grebe
199 fern Asplenium ruta-muraria Wall-rue
200 moss Schistidium apocarpum Sessile Grimmia
201 bird Larus canus Common Gull

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Dalgety Bay - crab salad

Still working through some weekend woodland material, but yesterday I spent lunchtime on the shore hoping for Little Auks and Long-tailed Ducks. I had neither but I did jam into Ringed Plovers, which I've only seen once before in the Bay in some 20 years. Tide was low so I did some boulder turning and wandered out into the bay to see what rock pools may be available. It's mostly sandy but there are some. Like my previous square the major pieces of rock that have pools have little by way of turnable rocks so I may have to make my own refuges to later find things in (traps?).

Find of the day was undoubtedly a new crab for me - the Long-clawed Porcelain Crab (Pisidia longicornis), which is apparently common in exactly such situations. My crab radar is set for too large, and this species has a max size of about 10mm. I probably overlooked it. This one was the worse for wear as I suspect I had damaged it while turning the rock.

A book I coveted for ages before caving in to desire

Another nice find from the weekend was Schistidium maritimum; a new moss for me. I knew of past records in the Bay but didn't know exactly where from. This is the first time I have ever measured a moss spore to confirm ID! (though I have checked liverwort spores on Fossombronia)

Red "boobs" of Schistidium and no hair points

spores 20-28u

One more that I wanted to share is a fly I found end of December but went back to re-record in January. It's a lovely dolichopodid, Liancalus virens, which wasn't previously recorded in Fife.

156 alga Hildenbrandia rubra An alga
157 lichen Verrucaria maura A lichen
158 lichen Verrucaria mucosa A lichen
159 moss Schistidium maritimum Seaside Grimmia
160 moss Ulota bruchii A moss
161 mollusc Anomia ephippium Saddle Oyster
162 mollusc Discus rotundatus Rounded Snail
163 mollusc Gibbula cineraria Grey Top Shell
164 mollusc Nucella lapillus Dog Whelk
165 mollusc Patella vulgata Common Limpet
166 bryozoan Membranipora membranacea Sea Mat
167 crustacean Austrominius modestus A barnacle
168 crustacean Carcinus maenas Green Shore Crab
169 crustacean Gammarus locusta A crustacean
170 crustacean Orchestia gammarellus Sand Hopper
171 crustacean Pisidia longicornis Long-clawed Porcelain Crab
172 coleoptera Philonthus decorus A rove beetle
173 bird Anas crecca Teal
174 bird Charadrius hiaticula Ringed Plover