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

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Double-counted Agonopterix heracliana. Damiiiittttttttttttttt

One down. 451.

Pooh and The Rather Blustery Day

Bit blowy here yesterday and almost a high tide too, so not much was to be made of sweeping or rock pooling/turning. The up side of this is that I had to pay attention to something else and I noticed a good handful of flowering plants that had emerged un-noticed in recent days.

With nothing in sotck for evening perusal I did manage to add a couple of species to the square - but only from last year! At least they were both new for me.

As I approach the 500 I do notice a slight fatigue creeping in, particularly when identifying groups I don't really "care" about (yes, that exists!). I may re-jig the target groups to de-emphasise groups that I find tedious. It has to be fun, hasn't it?

Frosted Orache

Curled Dock


Common Stork's-bill

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Bee Fly

A nice bee fly was the most enjoyable find of the weekend, and one (same one?) was buzzing around the flowers of Honesty yesterday, busy enough to ignore me taking dodgy mobile phone pictures. Some flies proved to be either repeats or tricky, so my stock of unidentified flies grows. Hopefully I will find time to resolve at least some of them shortly. I do always forget just how steep the on ramp is when invertebrate activity starts up though!

Numbers bit;
08/04/2017 442 Epilobium montanum Broad-leaved Willowherb
08/04/2017 443 Bombylius major Bee Fly
08/04/2017 444 Bombus pascuorum Common Carder Bee
08/04/2017 445 Aglais io Peacock
08/04/2017 446 Lasioglossum calceatum A mining bee
10/04/2017 447 Platycheirus scutatus A hoverfly

Friday, 7 April 2017

Sweeping changes

Sweeping pathsides yesterday turned up quite a few species - flies, sawflies and bugs - though most of the flies are already listed as is the common Anthocorus bug. Bibio johannis was a new one to me, (and the species on the front of the Bibionidae key!) while I was surprised to find that the sawfly Aglaostigma aucupariae was already on my PSL list.

Bibio jonhannis

Aglaostigma aucupariae

Not a bad haul from yesterday then, with five new additions.I also just noticed that I have forgotten to add Arion ater from the other night, so I'll have to do that too.

436 Phylloscopus collybita Chiffchaff
437 Fannia mollissima A lesser house fly
438 Bibio johannis A Bibionid fly
439 Triphleba lugubris A Phorid fly
440 Aglaostigma aucupariae A sawfly

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Painting by numbers

The chase is better than the catch

Last night wandering with headtorch along the coastal path I caught only previously recorded moths and not much else, but at one point I saw the reflection of eyes from the rocks below...

I could see both eyes as perfect circles of reflection and walked slowly towards them, hoping whatever it was would be dazzled or at least a bit confused (spoiler - it wasn't a Snipe). Suddenly I felt the animal tense, a barely percetible movement of the reflections. I prepared myself - if it moved left or right, as it was sure to, I would know what it was ... then there it was! A flash of black and white ... the tinkle of a bell on a collar ... sigh. Always the most probable, but it is my first domestic cat in the square.

Luckily a new spider and a late night email letting me know my Anthomyiidae couple had been identified saved the day

This is Lasiomma seminitidum. Not well known from Scotland but in typical fashion it's already recorded for years on end by my invert-bothering buddy Gordon. It's probably everywhere. Some species just don't get recorded by anyone!

Lasiomma seminitidum

Today, finally, I recorded Chiffchaff. Like Collared Dove I suspected I may have to wander inland to houses and other small woods to score, but it showed up. Still no Sandwich Tern though.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Bumping along

A sunny day with a lowish tide but I couldn't get any traction on rock turning for some reason. Failed to find the great rock I turned yesterday and mostly found only Green shore Crabs. I didn't catch the same Sea Scorpion again as I figure it could use a break.

It was one of those days when you feel the season has changed. Bluebells were out all over though I swear I saw none yesterday! Calliphora were abundant on every sunny stone - vicina and vomitoria. And where last week there was a bee or two they are now buzzing here there and everywhere. I probably should have made more effort to connect with another species but (I'll say it quietly) I just can't get exercised about bees.

Keeps the numbers ticking along anyway. Soon individual pots will be replaced with a WatDon big ol' cannon pooter and my backlog of unidentified flies will start to look vaguely intimidating.

Tedious wildflower

Lovely Hopeward point

Latest numbers:
03/04/2017 426 Asterias rubens Common starfish
03/04/2017 427 Myoxocephalus scorpius Bull Rout
03/04/2017 428 Ascidiella scabra A sea squirt
03/04/2017 429 Syvicola fenestralis A fly
04/04/2017 430 Calliphora vomitoria Orange-bearded Bluebottle
04/04/2017 431 Hyacinthoides non-scripta Bluebell


Eagle-eyed observers may have noticed me reporting two different species as the same one yesterday, mixing my long-spined and short-spined sea scorpions. Yesterdays newbee was the Bull Rout Myoxocephalus scorpius (too many English names - that's what I blame!) and its orange underside appears to indicate that it was a girl.

The putative nudibranches were, of course, not. I had idly wondered if they were sea squirts as I walked back to the car yesterday but I honestly didn't know even what kingdom sea squirts belonged to...

Anyway, they were the sea squirt Ascidiella scabra. The quantity alone should have been enough to avoid going down the nudibranch flight of fancy.  

On putting them under a lens in a petri dish i spooked a scaleworm which was apparently resting on them - the already-recorded Lepidonotus squamatus Or is it. Am I mixing up two scaleworms ...

A fried egg?

Two siphons


Happy scaleworm

Monday, 3 April 2017

Shoot first, ask later

After a weekend of sunshine in which I was inevitably committed to all the jobs around the house that come with spring sun I was able at lunchtime today to get to the coast at low tide (I did get to the coast at the weekend - it was just high tide). Clambering around the rocks I first turned up a Sea Scorpion that looked at me like, "Not you again!" before picking up a couple of pieces of algae for later examination. Then I found an enormous rock that looked worth turning, and fortunately I had been doing enough at the gym to make it possible. This didn't help any in terms of barnacle scrapings and broken nails, mind you.

This would have been a big moment earlier in the year, but in this case the only new thing was the Common Starfish

A second rock, even bigger, was turned over and I saw a flash of yellow-orange on the belly of a fish as it disappeared again. This had to be good! I chased the fish and caught it, but before that I noticed a thin star shape on the edge of the pool, exposed on the seaweed. "I'll come back for you," I thought. This was a dumb thing to think. Never saw it again! I have an image in my mind of the starfish - thin, five tentacles, one dark annulation on each tentacle, not more than about 5cm diameter. Did I imagine it? It's such a clear image. I'll see what I can do. Whatever happens this small point and its pools have already exceeded expectations and I'll be back over and over again no doubt.

The fish was worth the effort too - a Long-spined Sea Scorpion this time

I also found what I am supposing to be nudibranches clustered on the bottom of the rock, but I await their opening at a later time. A couple of them are currently languishing in a box of sea water. There may have been more than one species there, as there seemed to be red(ish) and white(ish) examples. Time will tell.

End of March numbers and analysis

Compared with previous one year recording sessions (no attmpt at 1k) on my local reserve:

Numbers to end of March

Class Jan Feb Mar
Algae 8 13 16
Lichens 37 41 43
Fungi 28 31 44
Vert - Birds 38 50 56
Vert - Other 2 4 8
Lepidoptera 1 2 9
Diptera 4 7 12
Arachnida 4 13 20
Coleoptera 6 17 17
Mollusc 9 24 27
Collembola 8 10 12
Invert - Other 22 33 51
Plants - Vascular 47 63 74
Plants - Bryo 22 29 30

236 337 419

Progress statistics

end of year 31-Dec 31-Dec 31-Dec
date 31-Jan 28-Feb 31-Mar
days remaining 334 306 275
species so far 236 337 419
spec/day so far 7.61 5.71 4.66
species remaining 764 663 581
spec/day rqd 2.29 2.17 2.11
spec/week rqd 16.01 15.17 14.79

Breakdown by category