Thursday, 20 April 2017

Lunchtimus mirabilis

It was 50/50 whether I finally caught up with gym time or went outside at lunchtime. Fortunately I went to bed to late last night to be bothered with the gym and it was sunny into the bargain.

Headed straight for the blackthorns where I had caught and then lost a lovely tachinid yesterday, which I'm pretty certain was Paracraspedothrix montivaga, a species I have recorded in the square last year. Anyway ... First to catch my eye were Peacock butterflies chasing up and down the upper shore, before I spotted an all dark large hoverfly on the strandline. Could it be?

A swing ... and a miss. Fly escapes. Next it, or another of the same, shows up on a blackthorn flower but in a tricky spot. A swing ... and a miss. Aaaaargh!

Suddenly from the strandline a large beetle burst onto the wing and i thought I was in for my first carrion beetle of the year. But no! What the bejeesus is this?! A fantastic Creophilus maxillosus, a big furry Staph of similar magnitude to the Devil's Coach Horse only all fancy-likes with a fur coat. What a beauty! This is a quick record shot and the distribution map for the species as per NBN (I happen to know it HAS been recorded in Fife). In case you don't know where I am, it's just above Edinburgh in that vast white space ;)

After a ten minute stalk I did manage to catch not one but two Eristalins aeneus, first for mainland Fife and a fly I've been longing to see for a long time. For completeness the pic and map for that species too.

Fly numbers and families

A couple of new flies this morning including one of my favourites Phaonia subventa. Started me thinking of what spread of flies I have had this year so I set Excel onto it and here's the result:

Family Specific English
Anisopodidae Syvicola fenestralis A fly
Anthomyiidae Botanophila fugax  A flower fly
Anthomyiidae Lasiomma seminitidula A flower fly
Bibionidae Bibio johannis A Bibionid fly
Bombyliidae Bombylius major Bee Fly
Calliphoridae Calliphora vicina A bluebottle
Calliphoridae Calliphora vomitoria Orange-bearded Bluebottle
Coelopidae Coelopa frigida A kelp fly
Coelopidae Coelopa pilipes A kelp fly
Dolichopodidae Campsicnemus scambus A long-legged fly
Fanniidae Fannia mollissima A lesser house fly
Heterocheilidae Heterocheila buccata A fly
Limoniidae Limonia nubeculosa A cranefly
Lonchopteridae Lonchoptera lutea A spear-winged fly
Muscidae Helina evecta A muscid fly
Muscidae Phaonia serva A muscid fly
Muscidae Phaonia subventa A muscid fly
Phoridae Triphleba lugubris A Phorid fly
Scathophagidae Ceratinsostoma ostiorum A Scathophagid fly
Sepsidae Sepsis fulgens A Sepsid Fly
Sphaeroceridae Leptocera fontinalis A lesser dung fly
Sphaeroceridae Thoracochaeta zosterae A lesser dung fly
Syrphidae Epistrophe elegans A hoverfly
Syrphidae Episyrphus balteatus Marmalade Hoverfly
Syrphidae Melanostoma mellinum A hoverfly
Syrphidae Melanostoma scalare A hoverfly
Syrphidae Platycheirus albimanus A hoverfly
Syrphidae Platycheirus ambiguus A hoverfly
Syrphidae Platycheirus scutatus A hoverfly
Syrphidae Syrphus ribesii A hoverfly
Tachinidae Lypha dubia A tachinid fly
Trichoceridae Trichocera hiemalis A winter gnat
Trichoceridae Trichocera regulationis A winter gnat


Anisopodidae 1
Anthomyiidae 2
Bibionidae 1
Bombyliidae 1
Calliphoridae 2
Coelopidae 2
Dolichopodidae 1
Fanniidae 1
Heterocheilidae 1
Limoniidae 1
Lonchopteridae 1
Muscidae 3
Phoridae 1
Scathophagidae 1
Sepsidae 1
Sphaeroceridae 2
Syrphidae 8
Tachinidae 1
Trichoceridae 2


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The forgotten moth - Phyllonorycter geniculella

So I potted a swept moth from the woodland floor. It lived (loosely speaking. it was terminated) in the pot on my desk for a few days before being taken home and again languished in the "to do" list despite being a lovely little thing that I was genuinely interested in looking at.

It was obviously a Phyllonorycter, and only on further investigation turned out to be geniculella, a leaf miner of sycamore, which is abundant in the woods

Another moth, not forgotten, was this fantastic Beautiful Plume. It's an adult hibernator and it's only been a week since I had one in the garden trap one square away.

Not quite so immediately appealing is this saxicolous lichen by the shore - Opegrapha calcarea

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Diptera day effects roll on

So on the 12th a lovely sunny day produced lifer Epistrophe eligans, lifer and county first Platycheirus ambiguus and now another lifer and county first - Lypha dubia (Lifer non dubia in this case). A nice start to spring!

Many thanks to CR for his usual invauable assistance

Good Friday - Mollusc Magic

Had a nice wander around at low tide on Friday with some new mollusc action. First I was amazed when I looked down at a small pool in the sand to see a squirt of water break the surface. On closer inspection I found a scallop which when picked up tried to swim off (in the open air - didn't work). I tried to persuade it to swim after that but it was having none of it.

Next up an overturned rock produced a Grey Sea Slug which was a great addition. But it wasn't over as it seems a peculiar looking collection of eggs in a spiral ribbon appear to be Sea Lemon eggs. I still need to confirm that this is a structure unique to the species but the implication in Collins is that it is.

A few other bits and pieces were picked up over the weekend, not least the new-for-county hoverfly Platycheirus ambiguus, the males of which were loosely swarming over the flowering blackthorn.This is my third addition to the county Platycheirus catalogue.

low tide

King Scallop in shallow pool

Trying to swim off

"usual suspects"

Aha ...

Grey Sea Slug

Sea Lemon eggs

And the latest numbers:
452 Platycheirus ambiguus A hoverfly
453 Epistrophe elegans A hoverfly
454 Ceratinsostoma ostiorum A Scathophagid fly
455 Aeolidia papillosa Grey Sea Slug
456 Doris pseudoargus Sea Lemon
457 Sylvia atricapilla Blackcap
458 Pecten maximus King Scallop
459 Laminaria hyperborea Cuvie
460 Ommatoiulus sabulosus Striped Millipede
461 Arabidopsis thaliana Thale Cress
462 Silene uniflora Sea Campion
463 Sepsis fulgens A Sepsid Fly
464 Phaonia serva A muscid fly
465 Amblyptilia acanthadactyla Beautiful Plume
466 Buccinum undatum Common whelk
467 Bombus pratorum Early Bumble Bee

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Spring bounce and numbers

The species per day total is starting to reflect the spring bounce, with March a hiatus between the counting of the winter and "ever present" species and the beginning of the spring emergence of plants and animals. Or maybe that's an overanalysis. Anyway, long may it continue. An average of three species per day really ought to be quite manageable for the next few months.

Date 31-Jan 28-Feb 31-Mar 13-Apr
days remaining 334 306 275 262
species so far 236 337 419 454
species/day period 7.61 3.61 2.65 2.69
spec/day so far 7.61 5.71 4.66 4.41
species remaining 764 663 581 546
spec/day rqd 2.29 2.17 2.11 2.08
spec/week rqd 16.01 15.17 14.79 14.59

I finally got aruond to incorporating this year's totals into the ones from the end of last year, showing a total of 573 species for the square.

Class Tot-2016 Tot-2017
Vertebrate - Birds 70 77
Vertebrate - Other 4 10
Invertebrate - Lepidoptera 3 13
Invertebrate - Diptera 26 49
Invertebrate - Arachnid 5 29
Invertebrate - Coleoptera 2 21
Invertebrate - Other 23 107
Plants - Vascular 35 92
Plants - Bryophytes 14 34
Fungi 40 67
Lichens 43 66
Other 4 8

269 573

Diptera delight!

A good lunchtime yesterday when I discovered the blackthorn on the shore was in flower. It was breezy, but a small corner was sheltered by a rock outcrop and so attracted a good range of flies. Some I;d already counted, some I couldn't ID yet and some were new. This included Epistrophe eligans, a spring hover I've been after for a couple of years, and a scathophagid which was to be my 200th fly. I had hoped it would be the tachinid I caught but discretion was the better part of valour there and it's currently pinned with its bits out before I attempt to ID it. (it was county first Lypha dubia and the M.mellinum on closer inspection were county first Platycheirus ambiguus!)

So my 200th fly is the shore scathophagid Ceratinostoma ostiorum

( Scathophagid keys and atlas are available free here )

The Epistrophe is also my 75th hover, which is a nice mini-landmark. I expect that the total number of hovers from this year in the square will not be far off that, the square already having produced some very nice hover records.


Oh look - an Eristalis ...

but wait ... no wing loop! Epistrophe elegans

list draft 1