Wednesday, 23 August 2017


A sudden and unexpected boost has come by way of a hymenopteran storm. This is especially welcome given that what appeared to be a perfect evening produced not one single new moth species last night. Ya boo sucks to you moths! I can't see why there so few moths on the wing unless they knew it was about to rain hard, but I'm going to need something to plug the gap in the expected tally. I may have to get those pitfalls out and running quicksmart. Maybe it will even help my pitiful beetle and spider tallies.

Biorhiza pallida

Bombus campestris

Ectemnius cavifrons - a boy

886 Erysiphe alphitoides Oak mildew
887 Biorhiza pallida Oak-apple Causer
888 Bombus campestris Field Cuckoo Bee
889 Tenthredo arcuata A sawfly

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Soldiering on

A weekend heavily dominated by a wonderful 3 hour session patrolling mayweed on the shore. Every slow trek along the stretch turned up something new, including two fantastic flies. The first, which I thought was a Gonia, I now realise isn't and I'll have to look at it properly. What a bizarre mistake to make.

Anyway ... the second , which is new for the county at least, and possibly new to Scotland, is the soldierfly Chorisops nagatomii. Both species of the genus are southerly in distribution but nagatomii is a late summer species and in all references consulted so far has no Scottish records. Once I establish the species ID is good I'll cross check to see if someone else has pipped me to the post.

yellow humeri and posterior calli are key to the, erm, key

869 Tipula fulvipennis A cranefly
870 Hebeloma crustuliniforme A fungus
871 Diarsia dahlii Barred Chestnut
872 Chorisops nagatomii A Soldier Fly
873 Sericomyia silentis A hoverfly
874 Vanessa atalanta Red admiral
875 Erisyphe cichoracearum A fungus
876 Pipiza noctiluca A hoverfly
877 Pteridium aquilinum Bracken
878 Rhagoletis alternata A tephritid fly
879 Coniophora puteana A fungus
880 Eristalis arbustorum A hoverfly
881 Kaestneria A Linyphiid spider
882 Dilophus femorata A Bibionid fly

Friday, 18 August 2017

Skool daze

With the first day of school (my son's first day ever at school) summer is now officially over. Fortunately August's usually a good month for flies and I'm looking forward to the ivy bursting into flower.

A couple of days of picking up the pace has seen a spread of additions. Nothing spectacular but a lovely new wasp for me yesterday and a couple of missing hovers. Some things in pots too so should be able to creep over the 870 mark.

Ectemnius cavifrons

Eristalis horticola


860 Lycoperdon pyriforme Stump Puffball
861 Anthus trivialis Tree Pipit
862 Plagiognathus arbustorum A mirid bug
863 Argyresthia semitestacella Large Beech Argent
864 Lycaena phlaeas Small Copper
865 Eristalis pertinax A hoverfly
866 Ectemnius cavifrons A digger wasp
867 Dasysyrphus albostriatus A hoverfly
868 Noctua janthe Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Slow dive

So I spent the last few days unwinding all the gains of early in the month and am now back needing >3 spp per day to finish before end of September. That should still be ok, though, and with so few days even one good day will push it back under 3 anyway.

After clocking a larch in the school playground in January I finally scored with Suillus grevillei the day before term started. It's a long time for something you know is coming! My biggest "hole" this month is the moth total I expected and which has been badly damaged by either rain or cold, clear nights. There is still hope, though. Vismig has produced precious little although the expected Tree Pipit finally came up this morning. Should still be a few going past for a couple of weeks anyway. A kingfisher was nice to have though and I saw it/another again this morning.

857 Alcedo atthis Kingfisher
858 Suillus grevllei Larch Bolete
859 Helina reversio A muscid fly
860 Lycoperdon pyriforme Stump Puffball
861 Anthus trivialis Tree Pipit

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Photos - down with the sickness

My Picasa has decided to stop showing me photos, including editing them. This is a source of some considerable annoyance to me since I use it every day to process 100s of photos. Sigh. Anyway, I'll have to make do with unedited photos until I can get something sorted out. This is a a Potato Capsid

I initialy identified it correctly, then misidentified it subsequently somehow then had that corrected by Maria Justalmond via iRecord. Thank goodness for vigilant verifiers!

And my third Sarco, which I'm well happy about, processed before Picasa came down with the sickness. Or it could be anything really. I'll wait until a grown up comes along and tells me what it really is!

848 Sarcophaga vagans A Flesh Fly
849 Campyloneura virgula A mirid bug
850 Fallopia convolvulus Black-bindweed
851 Eristalis pertinax A hoverfly
852 Closterotomus norwegicus Potato Capsid
853 Paroligolophus agrestis A harvestman

Monday, 7 August 2017

Small white, bee, balls

This and that.. getting exciting now! Was hoping to get past 850 at the weekend but see note on moth walk!

Some lovely earth balls in the grounds of the chapel of the Earls of Moray - a small ruined building hidden between houses and surrounded by mostly uninteresting grass.

Fife's newest bee - Lasioglossum albipes

and the ironic award of the year - the only lep added from a nocturnal walk goes to ... several Small Whites roosting in grass. Easy to see at night though!.

I've gone back and forth on this knotgrass. It could be even-leaved or it could be just a little one. I may need a consultant.

Oh! I almost forgot! The amazing foreleg of Curtonotus convexiusculus. Straight out the pages of a Warhmammer bestiary.

837 Tussilago farfara Coltsfoot
838 Pimpinella saxifraga Burnet Saxifrage
839 Coprinus comatus Shaggy Inkcap
840 Pieris rapae Small White
841 Polygonum aviculare  Knotgrass
842 Scaeva pyrastri Scaeva pyrastri
843 Meliscaeva auricollis Meliscaeva auricollis
843 Lasioglossum albipes Lasioglossum albipes
844 Curtonotus convexiusculus A Ground beetle
845 Erysiphe polygoni A fungus
846 Coprinus auricomus A fungus
847 Conops quadrifasciatus A conopid fly

Friday, 4 August 2017

Vismig charts

Timing of non-wader/waterfowl visible migration for species targetting. Birds will make up only 1/10 of the species but I'll do vismigging anyway since I've waited so long to live in a place where I can do it outside my house!

Marsh harriers are definitely on the move as two reported from Fife sites this week.

Grilling mushrooms

A small mixed bag over the last couple of days with two lifer flies which also seem to be new-for-county despite being fairly common. This is par for the course - there are more undiscovered flies in Fife than in the Amazon basin. Well, probably ...

Last night was a definite bonus as I headed out for a walk while looking for evidence of any bird migration. As I returned home empty-handed I noticed a movement on the rocks below me and jammed into a Common Sandpiper. I've heard calls a couple of times that made me think Common Sand, but never laid eyes on the beast. In all probability these were different birds anyway with passage birds fairly common along the coastal rocks here but never hanging around for long. It's a nice one to catch though as it's an "importance of being there" kind of species. You blink, you miss it.

After grilling some mushrooms for three days -a long time for grilling mushrooms - I finally found what I was looking for in the Collins mushrooms and toadstools guide. An unlikely but welcome result! The Wood Woollyfoot is a fairly distinctive species but despite narrowing it to family my eyes apparently just missed the appropriate pictures every time. Anyway, it's all done now. Phew!

Fife's new blowfly...

Pollenia pediculata - Hairy-armpit Clusterfly

The easiest keying ever
And the Wood Woollyfoot ...

"fairy ring"

The woolly foot

Additions of 02-03/08:
829 Tubaria furfuracea Scurfy Twiglet
830 Chrysogaster solstitialis A hoverfly
831 Larus argentatus Herring Gull
832 Achanthiptera rohrelliformis A muscid fly
833 Pollenia pediculata Tufted Clusterfly
834 Scleroderma citrinum Common Earthball
835 Collybia peronata Wood Woollyfoot
836 Actitis hypoleucos Common Sandpiper

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

The first time ...

... ever I saw your face..


New in at 831 - Herring Gull! Here's a pic from the RSPB so I remember what they look like.

Other additions:
827 Plagiomnium undulatum Hart's-tongue Thyme-moss
828 Galeopsis tetrahit Common Hemp-nettle
829 Tubaria furfuracea Scurfy Twiglet
830 Chrysogaster solstitialis A hoverfly
831 Larus argentatus Herring Gull

Incredible String Band

On reviewing my plant records against the local flora some interesting question marks have come up, and some bang-to-rights wrong 'uns. And now I find this in the Nature of Fife annals ...

Archaeognatha - bristletails
Petrobius brevistylis : Widespread on sea-cliffs.
Petrobius maritimus : I of May


Another one for checking, along with my Bur-dock and my Water-cress and ...

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Swings and Roundabouts

Four days ago, on 798, I was pondering how long it was taking me to get over the 800 hump. It seemed to go on forever. Now, four days later, such is the swings-and-roundabout effect of the project I'm 1/4 way to 900. And the day isn't finished! No doubt on 890 everything will seem to go into slow motion again...

A few forgotten and sorted out plants were added this morning, so I was content to head to the gym at lunchtime in inclement weather. Closed for refurbishment. Not one to fight the hand of destiny I headed for the very nearest point in my square which was the shortest drive away and with immediate access from the moment I leave the car. The fungus faeries had been. A quick three additions and some things in a pot were bagged in about 20 minutes. With a following wind I may be 1/3 of the way to 900 by close of play!

Common Puffball

Milking Bonnet

Common Funnel - abundant

821 Torilis japonica Upright Hedge Parsley
822 Angelica sylvestris Wild Angelica
823 Sonchus arvensis Perennial Sow-thistle
824 Lycoperdon perlatum Common Puffball
825 Clitocybe gibba Common Funnel
826 Mycena galopus Milking Bonnet

End of July report

Everything still going swimmingly and a targetted completion of end September currently requires a rate of 3 spp./day, which is about where the rate has been since February.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul
Algae 8 13 16 17 17 17 17
Lichens 37 41 43 44 46 46 47
Fungi 28 31 44 49 53 56 72
Plants - Vascular 47 63 74 92 107 117 158
Plants - Bryo 22 29 30 30 30 30 30
Mollusc 9 24 27 33 33 33 33
Arachnida 4 13 20 25 32 33 33
Collembola 8 10 12 12 12 12 12
Hemiptera 2 4 6 8 16 21 22
Hymenoptera 1 3 8 13 19 22 23
Coleoptera 6 17 17 21 49 51 54
Diptera 4 7 12 41 68 86 101
Lepidoptera 1 2 9 14 29 63 87
Invert - Other 19 26 37 41 43 44 46
Vert - Birds 38 50 56 62 64 64 74
Vert - Other 2 4 8 9 9 10 11

236 337 419 511 627 705 820

It's hard to believe that the same rate can be maintained but we are still in high season and perhaps it's harder to believe it won't. Moths have plenty of life left in them. Migrant birds are starting to filter through. A major sweep for plants is still turning up new material and there are all those spiders coming into maturity. Flies have been a little neglected in the last week or two and there must be some joy to be had there. Last but not least fungi are definitely ramping up as we get to the end of the summer.

targetted end 31-Dec 31-Dec 31-Dec 31-Dec 31-Dec 31-Dec 31-Dec 30-Sep
date 31-Jan 28-Feb 31-Mar 30-Apr 31-May 30-Jun 31-Jul 01-Aug
days remaining 334 306 275 245 214 184 153 60
species so far 236 337 419 511 627 705 820 820
species/day period 7.61 3.61 2.65 3.07 3.74 2.60 3.71 0.00
spec/day so far 7.61 5.71 4.66 4.26 4.15 3.90 3.87 2.69
species remaining 764 663 581 489 373 295 180 180
spec/day rqd 2.29 2.17 2.11 2.00 1.74 1.60 1.18 3.00
spec/week rqd 16.01 15.17 14.79 13.97 12.20 11.22 8.24 21.00

Year progression, compared to previous "year efforts" at my local reserve.

Year progression by class, showing the recent emphasis on plants, the start of the fungus season and the arrival/passage of the first migrant birds

Monday, 31 July 2017


Amazingly my first Cyperaceae record came from walking the upper edge of the rocky shore looking specifically for niche plants and terminating at the bottom of a garden through which runs/seeps a pitiful stream. It does, however, provide a soggy bottom of sorts. The Carex otrubae (I reckon ... to be confirmed) was hanging on at the edge of shore and stream being heavily wrapped up by bindweed. Apart from the Water-cress that lives there I'm also going to have to dig around the bryophytes as this is a habitat scarce in the square.

I also picked up another couple of goodies which hopefully will be denizens of specific microhabitat and continue this period of the manic botanic. Another Elymus, which I am hoping will prove to be some sort of shore-loving Couch, and members of the Brassicaceae (Danish Scurvy-grass of course) and Boraginaceae (ehhhh, it was Bugloss) which ought to prove new to the list if not to me ... if I can identify them

Danish Scurvy-grass

Reviewing my expected outcomes from February this morning it seems that while many taxon groups are going to come up dead on or just shy of their targets the vascular plants have way over-exceeded my initial targets.

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'm surely married to 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 Fragaria vesca Wild Strawberry
811 Armillaria mellea Honey Fungus
812 Cyanea lamarckii Blue Jellyfish
813 Cyanea capillata Lion's Mane Jellyfish
814 Elymus repens Couch Grass

Friday, 28 July 2017

Patch gold! (and 800)

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!

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

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Q: What's round,white and giggles?

A. A tickled Onion

Or in this case a tickled leek.

Looking through the BSBI recording sheet for VC85 I noticed that while Sand Leek was included Wild Onion wasn't. Both are present and in similar habitats, but the upshot is that I figured out my Wild onion Allium vineale was in fact the Sand Leek Allium scorodoprasum. As a host for a fungus also on the list this was doubly useful information.

While I was in a botanical frame of mind I also bit the bullet and removed my dodgy White Campion that I had suspicions about all along. 

I have spent the last couple of days taking the hit for trying to learn about grasses. There are anotehr one or two I have my eye on that I think I can refind and add, but certainly I'm better prepared than ever to have a go. The downside of this is that I'm more or less sure I have discarded a perfectly good Hybrid couch specimen which I had written off (stupidly) as probably Perennial Rye-grass. There's a lesson there I think. Sometimes a specimen which is given up on is down to the mood I'm in at the time and in another mood could easily come up trumps.

I also discovered that the Colletotrichum on Agrostis will be graminicola.

This new botanical phase I hope will lead to more discoveries. An overlooked area that I hadn't visited for a while produced a mass of Meadow Vetchling. It's a great time for Fabaceae with Restharrow, Hairy Tare, Hare'sfoot Clover and a few others all flowering around the place.

Meadow Vetchling being double-checked

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Leaves of Grass

While attempting (re-attempting) to "get into" grasses I picked up a couple of fungi, one if which is already on the list and another which is immediately recognisable to genus but with a tricker job on species. Starting with the easy one the also-immediately-recognisable Pleospora herbarum on Sheep's fescue. To be clear it isn't immediately recognisabe in macro because it looks vaguely similar to the other 10,000 of its kind (where 10k is a non-random real world number globally!). The spores are though - they're good value. This is a truly pluriverous fungus of herbaceous material and I've found it on (in) both thrift stems and gorse seed pods.

The second one, which appears to be on a dead bit of Agrostis sp., is a Colletotrichum. It's a coelomycete - an asexual fungal stage where the spores are produced out of an acervulus - a sort of basal pad. You will see these on a lot of dead plant material. Trouble is that while they are instantly recognisable as a genus they all look more or less the same AND there are species which are host specific along with pluriverous species. Apparently. Who am I to say otherwise? Anyway, they're also good value, with nice spiky habit and banana shaped spores. In this case they're quite small and have extensions, so I haven't entirely given up nailing the ID. Yet.