Saturday, March 31, 2018

Skye - 500 (with minutes to spare!)

I believe the phrase is "eleventh hour", and indeed mine came with just 43 minutes remaining at precisely 11:17pm. Annoyingly, it was something I'd overlooked earlier rather than something amazing on a tree trunk, found whilst lamping in the woods. Though, speaking of lamping in the woods....

Nuctinea umbratica by torchlight at night
According to the Spider Recording Scheme, this is the first record of the species on Skye since "1980-1991", so that's a nice update for them. Even better, and on the same outing after dark, was this fine lady

Steatoda bipunctata - on the shop windowframe! 
As can be seen from the SRS website, this is entirely new to Skye. 

I've been joined by my good friend Tony the last week or so, it's entirely down to him that I went out lamping last night and that I've been pushed into successfully achieving 500 for the square by end of March. I have to say, I'm blown away by it all. 500 - by March!!! I know Ali is storming into the sunset of his home straight already, but it's pretty good going for someone like myself. 

Highlights since my last update have been many and varied. Yesterday, again thanks to Tony's prompting, this fat bugger has made it onto the VC104 list at last, must be massively overlooked!

Glyphipterix haworthana extracted from a Cottongrass seedhead. New for Skye, bizzarely!
I was pretty darned chuffed to finish work, look out the window and see this fine fella sat on the suet ball feeder a week or so back, first time I've encountered it anywhere on Skye

Male Reed Bunting. He pit-stopped for two whole days whilst on passage back to...somewhere! 
A huge surprise (for me, at least) was finding an area of Sphagnum bog that held several dozen Fir Clubmoss plants. I've only ever seen these at the top of Cairngorm and had absolutely no idea they occured in lowland bogs too. Still, that's one of the great things about this 1KSQ mallarkey - you sure do learn a few things along the way! 

Fir Clubmoss in a bog - who'da thunk it? 
So, I'll do a breakdown of my first 500 of the year (haha, cocky bugger or what?) tomorrow. Tony, should you be reading this at some point after journeying back down south again, thank you so much for heading all the way up here (and in the middle of an Ice Age too, good effort!) I hope you had a blast, I certainly did. Ali, Pete and Tim - I'm still stoked at being able to share NG3963 with a decent naturalist, so hurry up and get yer arses on up here! 

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Quiz time for Ali and comparison with 2013

Well, as there's still not much going on in my neck of the woods, here's an easy one for Ali to get:

Additions since my last post are:

451 Pogonognathellus longicornis Springtail Collembola 25/03/2018
452 Elachiptera cornuta Diptera Chloropidae 25/03/2018
453 Neomyia cornicina Diptera Muscidae 25/03/2018
454 Andrena flavipes Hymenoptera Andrenidae 25/03/2018
455 Bombus lucorum s.l. Hymenoptera White-tailed Bumblebee 25/03/2018
456 Melangyna lasiophthalma Diptera Syrphidae 26/03/2018
457 Haematopus ostralegus Birds Oystercatcher 28/03/2018
458 Phaonia subventa Diptera Muscidae 29/03/2018
459 Pollenia angustigena Diptera Calliphoridae 29/03/2018
460 Bombus hypnorum Hymenoptera Tree Bumblebee 29/03/2018
461 Botanophila fugax Diptera Anthomyiidae 29/03/2018

And just to prove I've got too much time on my hands, here's the rough progression of the scores from Andy Musgrove in 2013 (taken from his blog, no entries for Aug-Nov that I could see). His total of 1406 is still the highest for a full year:

28/01/2013 - 158
28/02/2013 - 217
31/03/2013 - 261
29/04/2013 - 400
26/05/2013 - 612
30/06/2013 - 904
23/07/2013 - 1115
31/12/2013 - 1406

Two points - three of us are double or getting on for double what Andy was on at the end of March, and then look at the huge increases in Andy's totals in May, June and July. So I'm still looking forward to the warmer weather!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Dalgety Bay - end of month (ish)

Not many photographable or photogenic species added of late so here's a nice landscape looking east  from my autumn vismig spot. I may or may not squeak over the line to 550 before month end (I did - edited) but I'll be away from a PC until April.

Until then today's sunshine saw Coltsfoot in flower, flies all over, A jumping spider, and lots of spring feeling. Hoorah!

541 bird Gallinula chloropus Moorhen
542 flowering plant Alliaria petiolata Garlic mustard
543 flowering plant Epilobium montanum Broad-leaved Willowherb
544 diptera Lasiomma seminitidum A flower fly
545 diptera Dasysyrphus venustus A hoverfly
546 bird Passer montanus Tree Sparrow
547 collembola Orchesella cincta A springtail
548 bird Buteo buteo Common Buzzard
549 spider Salticus scenicus A spider
550 flowering plant Cochlearia danica Danish Scurvygrass

Monday, March 26, 2018

Dalgety Bay - spring!

A brief wander up the coast and a gardening session (with a net and sorting tray, naturally) kept the dials moving over the weekend. It was clear that a handful of pots will soon be replaced by a pooter or two. Inverts are go! I've already gone from having no "stock" material to a collection of pinned flies.

It was nice to see the garden start to pick up too, including an overhead Sparrowhawk which I half thought I'd already recorded.

Ceratophysella bengtssoni

Clouded Drab

Diplocephalus latifrons

Platycheirus albimanus

Muscina prolapsa

Not covered here so far was my first potential new-to-Scotland of the year, the anthomyiid Egle parva, which is covered here. You can see from the URL that I had given it the wrong ID to begin with.

528 * diptera Egle parva A flower fly
529 collembola Ceratophysella bengtssoni A springtail
530 diptera Ceratinostoma ostiorum A Scathophagid fly
531 spider Diplocephalus latifrons A Linyphiid spider
532 fungus Agaricus litoralis A mushroom
533 lep-moth Orthosia incerta Clouded Drab
534 bird Accipiter nisus Sparrowhawk
535 diptera Eudasyphora cyanella A muscid fly
536 diptera Platycheirus albimanus A hoverfly
537 diptera Muscina prolapsa A muscid fly
538 diptera Egle ciliata A flower fly

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Better than last year

Better that is in my terms - still way off the pace of the rest of you.
Thorne is now on 224 species whereas last year at the end of March I was only on 207 species.

Eype is still very slow going with the weather really holding things up. The highlight of the square is the nearly 1km length of soft cliffs but they are so wet and liable to slippage at the moment I havn't set foot on them yet this year. For the record Eype is now on 178 species.

Two Sandwich Terns at Eype this morning holds some hope that Spring is finally arriving.

Yellow Horned, Shoulder Stripe and Melinda viridicyanea

Picking up pace here a bit at the moment. However, nothing too unexpected. Nice to get my first Yellow Horned in the garden plus the first Shoulder Stripe of the year, one of my favorite moths. Also a Calliphorid that wasn't Calliphora vicina, namely Melinda viridicyanea.

431 Bembidion lunulatum Coleoptera Carabidae 22/03/2018
432 Xantholinus longiventris Coleoptera Staphylinidae 22/03/2018
433 Proteinus ovalis Coleoptera Staphylinidae 22/03/2018
434 Orthosia gothica Lepidoptera:moths Hebrew Character 21/03/2018
435 Gonatium rubens Arachnids Linyphiidae 22/03/2018
436 Dismodicus bifrons Arachnids Linyphiidae 22/03/2018
437 Xylocampa areola Lepidoptera:moths Early Grey 22/03/2018
438 Orthosia incerta Lepidoptera:moths Clouded Drab 22/03/2018
439 Orthosia cerasi Lepidoptera:moths Common Quaker 22/03/2018
440 Anticlea badiata Lepidoptera:moths Shoulder Stripe 22/03/2018
441 Melinda viridicyanea Diptera Calliphoridae 23/03/2018
442 Orthosia munda Lepidoptera:moths Twin-spotted Quaker 23/03/2018
443 Achlya flavicornis Lepidoptera:moths Yellow Horned 23/03/2018
444 Aegopodium podagraria Vascular Plants Ground Elder 24/03/2018
445 Alliaria petiolata Vascular Plants Garlic Mustard 24/03/2018
446 Centaurea nigra Vascular Plants Common Knapweed 24/03/2018
447 Epilobium montanum Vascular Plants Broad-leaved Willowherb 24/03/2018
448 Geranium lucidum Vascular Plants Shining Crane's-bill 24/03/2018
449 Geranium robertianum Vascular Plants Herb-Robert 24/03/2018
450 Ruscus aculeatus Vascular Plants Butcher's-broom 24/03/2018

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The sun also rises ...

Lovely to get a sunny day yesterday, brought out a few hymenoptera and diptera, plus a couple of new moths and beetles for the year. Coleoptera remain the most speciose group in my square so far, with 83 species. Given that 82 have been from my garden, I think there's scope for a lot more elsewhere in the square, but can't get to most of it.

So on we go, now up to 430. Won't be much of the microscopic algae/fungi stuff in this persons blog this year, though.

420 Andrena nigroaenea Hymenoptera Buffish Mining Bee 20/03/2018
421 Lasiomma seminitidum Diptera Anthomyiidae 21/03/2018
422 Bombus lapidarius Hymenoptera Red-tailed Bumblebee 21/03/2018
423 Vespula vulgaris Hymenoptera Common Wasp 21/03/2018
424 Pollenia labialis Diptera Calliphoridae 21/03/2018
425 Helina evecta Diptera Muscidae 21/03/2018
426 Andrena bicolor Hymenoptera Gwynne's Mining Bee 21/03/2018
427 Cerastis rubricosa Lepidoptera:moths Red Chestnut 21/03/2018
428 Lithophane ornitopus Lepidoptera:moths Grey Shoulder-knot 21/03/2018
429 Glischrochilus hortensis Coleoptera Nitidulidae 22/03/2018
430 Psylliodes chrysocephala Coleoptera Chrysomelidae 22/03/2018

Red Chestnut (Cerastis rubricosa)

Dalgety Bay - wind in the willows

The wind yesterday precluded any fly catching so I re-investigated the barely-touched area of willows, and not without success. This is the kind of area that I have in my local nature reserve in abundance so I know what it can be good for. Can't believe I found no Peltigera, but a couple of additional bryophytes were added and a fungus I've wanted to see for ages. I'm not joking, though you may soon think I am!

Frullania dilitata


Trimmatostroma salicis - yes!!

No, really!!!

The moth trap was out too
Rhigognostis incarnatella

Common Quaker

Then there was a beetle with backstory. The other day I found a plastic discarded chinese takeaway tub. Since I had a bottle of soapy water in my bag for this sort of thing I re-purposed it as a water trap and it came up with this first-for-county Vincenzellus ruficollis. I'll be carrying more soapy water from now on.

Vincenzellus ruficollis

NBN map Vincenzellus ruficollis

518 liverwort Frullania dilitata A liverwort
519 flowering plant Lamium album White Dead-nettle
520 moss Dicranella heteromalla A moss
521 fungus Trimmatostroma salicis A fungus
522 lep-moth Orthosia cerasi Common Quaker
523 * lep-moth Rhigognostis incarnatella A micromoth
524 diptera Pollenia rudis A cluster fly
525 * coleoptera Vincenzellus ruficollis A beetle

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Dalgety Bay - Desmid Island Discs

Nothing could be more fun that taking a drop of water and sticking it under the microscope. If it's from an algal mat then all the better. This beauty is Closterium monoliferum, which is one of the few things I managed to identify from the myriad species present (actually so far it's the only one!)

The granules in the tip dance about, and the following link says of them that ... "vacuolar granules in Closterium moniliferum have been analyzed to consist mainly of barium sulphate crystals". See the link below. Also the further link from that link which talks about how this little guy could clean up nuclear material!

Fascinating page on the species

Also leaving this here for future reference - superb desmid galleries

Closterium in Desmid Gallery

Besides that the inverts have started to kick off with some muscoid flies starting to appear on sunny surfaces. Soon I'll have a box full of undetermined flies! Part of the reason I wanted to get off to a flier this year is because up to the point I decided to do this daft thing again I was intending to dedicate more time to the calypterate flies. Pretty sure I've banked enough species now to allow for some time outside the square though.

511 bird Fulmarus glacialis Fulmar
512 * insect-other Riccardoella oudemansi Slug Mite
513 diptera Phaonia tuguriorum A muscid fly
514 lep-moth Hofmannophila pseudospretella Brown House Moth
515 flowering plant Tussilago farfara Coltsfoot
516 hemiptera Anthocoris nemoralis A plant bug
517 * alga Closterium moniliferum A desmid

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Another freeze up in TG4523

Wind, frost and snow has resulted in no additions to the square for the last six days. All getting a bit tedious. For the sake of completeness here are the last 10 additions, so now up to 419 for the square, including 340 from the garden:

410 Harpalus tardus Coleoptera Carabidae 12/03/2018
411 Veronica hederifolia Vascular Plants Ivy-leaved Speedwell 12/03/2018
412 Notiophilus rufipes Coleoptera Carabidae 12/03/2018
413 Eurysa lineata Hemipteroids Delphacidae (Planthopper) 12/03/2018
414 Drusilla canaliculata Coleoptera Staphylinidae - Aleocharinae 13/03/2018
415 Lispocephala brachialis Diptera Muscidae: Coenosiinae 14/03/2018
416 Arion distinctus Molluscs Common Garden Slug 14/03/2018
417 Aleochara bipustulata Coleoptera Staphylinidae 14/03/2018
418 Scydmaenus tarsatus Coleoptera Scydmaeninae (Staphylinidae) 14/03/2018
419 Luffia ferchaultella Lepidoptera:moths Virgin Bagworm 15/02/2018

One side benefit has been a bit of extra time to clear my backlog of sawflies. I also attended a very useful BENHS sawfly workshop with Andy Musgrove on Saturday. The additional sawfly species have pushed my 1 km square list to 2196 species, including 1788 from the garden.

Looks like it's going to get a bit milder, so hope to start getting a few more insects and birds soon.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Dalgety Bay ... new species loading ... please wait ...

A weekend of bad weather and domestic activity means not much happening. I did do this leaf section of the moss Campylopus introflexus, though. Pretty pleased with it. Shame it's already on the list!

Easterly winds continue. Lots of nice Kittiwakes and finally a Fulmar. Anther roll of the dice at lunchtime. Let's see. Everybody all together ... Gannet, LT Duck, Scoter ....

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Skye - Seashore Fun

Took myself down to the beach today (stayed well away from The Ravine of Death, see my blog detailing yesterday's antics here) and managed to pick up a handful of additions for the tally. 

Drinker Moth caterpillar - waiting for some sunshine
Ruby Tiger caterpillar - off in search of some sunshine
Collemopsidium foveolatum - a lichen found on barnacle plates, would you believe!
Talking of barnacles....

Throw in a couple more lichens and bryophytes and my running tally stands at 440 species. I have samples in pots awaiting inspection, maybe I could bump it up a bit nearer to 450 by tomorrow. This time last year I'd just hit 400. 

Here's one from last week that I inadvertently missed off the list

Water Cricket Velia caprai in a pool by the river

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Dalgey Bay - half way! (502)

Can't believe I'm half way there with no leaves on the trees yet and snowdrops still in full bloom!

Half way point last year was 26th of April so just over a month ahead of the previous pace. Across almost all groups I'm on the same or better tally, although lichens are a bit off the pace. This isn't unexpected because I had a lovely (and well surveyed) piece of coastal outcrop which provided most species. Bryophytes, algae and fungi have been star performers, with the first two exceeding last year's total early on and the latter already matching 2017's August tally. Coleoptera continue to underwhelm, but then I've had little from leaf litter and I haven't placed any pitfalls this year yet. A nice surprise was having three echinoderms on the list already (or at all).

59 species have been lifers - 13%. Last year's overall lifers ratio was about 25%  but some of that would have been routine coastal/marine species which I'm finding again this year as not new.

Before the numbers, here's a lovely Polytrichum juniperinum I found this morning while out for a stroll. Growing on an old rope at the sailing club!

Category Jan Feb Mar
alga 6 15 23
Protist other 0 0 0
slime mould 0 0 0
lichen 27 31 34
fungus 60 83 83
liverwort 9 9 9
moss 37 43 44
flowering plant 60 72 73
conifer 2 2 2
fern 3 3 4
cnidarian 0 1 5
mollusc 12 17 24
bryozoan 1 2 2
annelid 0 8 10
flatworm 1 1 1
harvestman 1 2 2
pseudoscorpion 0 0 0
spider 6 10 12
gall mite 0 0 0
Tick 0 0 0
millipede 6 7 7
centipede 4 5 5
crustacean 10 12 13
collembola 5 8 8
bristletail 0 1 1
odonata 0 0 0
dermaptera 0 1 1
orthoptera 0 0 0
hemiptera 4 5 6
coleoptera 8 13 14
diptera 15 24 25
lep-moth 4 8 10
lep-butterfly 0 0 0
hymenoptera 3 4 4
insect-other 0 0 0
tunicate 0 0 0
echinoderm 0 2 3
invert-other 0 1 2
fish 0 1 1
reptile 0 0 0
amphibian 0 0 0
bird 54 62 70
mammal 3 4 4
341 457 502

Monday, March 12, 2018

Dalgety Bay - Guillemots in the mist

A misty day and easterlies meant some Guillemots were feeding off the small harbour wall but still no gannets, no fulmar, no Little Auk, no LT Duck, no Phalaropes ... this wish list should be getting 2nd nature by now!

I have managed to get a few things and I surely have enough in the store cupboard to clearly leap the halfway point. a few things I thought were bankers turned out to be not what I thought, including my first slug dissection. Is it Deroceras reticulatum or D.agreste? Oh, it;s exciting ... oh, it looks like it's D.invadens. I think. That one to be referred but not clearly what I thought it was anyway.

At the third time of asking I found my favourite "ground" beetle, the arboreal Dromius quadromaculatus, with a session of head-torching. The usual things were on trunks but there are far less isopods and no isopod hunting spiders (so far). This square also seems to have no pill bugs, which makes me think the other square is more calcareous or something of that nature.

Anyway, I had hoped this lot would be enough to go over 500 but it's not! 499! It'll be today though unless something bizarre happens.

492 flowering plant Mercurialis perennis Dog's Mercury
493 coleoptera Dromius quadromaculatus A ground beetle
494 * annelid Eiseniella tetraedra An earthworm
495 mollusc Tandonia sowerbyi Sowerby's Keeled Slug
496 spider Nuctenea umbratica Walnut Orb-weaver
497 spider Zygiella x-notata A spider
498 lep-moth Agonopterix heracliana A micro moth
499 lep-moth Orthosia gothica Hebrew Character