Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Steeple Clump

Investigated one of the un-visited pieces of woodland at lunchtime (c.NT152829), and what a beauty. That's going to be a great site to mix up with the coastal fun.

I barely ventured into it but it was enough for a flavour with damp woodland floor, plenty ferns and carpets of pine needles in places between sycamore and other broadleaf trees.

Plenty of invert life was buzzing about, including a flushed Clouded Border.I did the only thing I could do. I started a list ...

Six hundred up!

Beaten from gorse this morning ...

At first I thought robberfly but going through the back of my mind was Therevidae ... too much browsing of the Soldierfly book. Thereva nobilitata it appears to be - and would be thus declared as species number 600!

596 Pegomya solennis A Flower Fly
597 Aphidecta obliterata Larch Ladybird
598 Psilolechia lucida A lichen
599 Palloptera quinquemaculata A Pallopterid fly
600 Thereva nobilitata A Stiletto Fly

Unvisited woods and one step closer ...

There are two entire woods in my square which I haven't even visited! In the top left and middle of the west side. I suppose I should go there sometime before the end of the year. Or maybe I'll leave them until I'm working on the next 1000 ...

Palloptera quinquemaculata ... 599 ...

Today will be the day!

The 600 will be breached today unless something major happens. A nice run around the taxa yesterday made for an interesting push towards the May target of 600. Fortunately looks like I'll get a few in the bag over target since June will be a tricky one of holidays and competing obligations.

Finally, Orange-tip

Pegomyia blotch mine - will try to rear on

Pegomyia larva

Perapion violaceum from dock

Psilolechia hiding in plain sight

Larch ladybird from beating spruce

The numbers since yesterday ...
23/05/2017 589 Anthocharis cardamines Orange-tip
23/05/2017 590 Anthophila fabriciana Nettle-Tap
23/05/2017 591 Dalopius marginatus A Click Beetle
23/05/2017 592 Perapion violaceum A weevil
23/05/2017 593 Erisyphe heraclei A fungus
23/05/2017 594 Celypha lacunana A tortricid moth
23/05/2017 595 Pardosa nigriceps A Wolf spider
24/05/2017 596 Pegomya solennis A Flower Fly
24/05/2017 597 Aphidecta obliterata Larch Ladybird
24/05/2017 598 Psilolechia lucida A lichen

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

A new beetle for Fife (and for me, naturally) - Otiorhynchus armadillo

I decided to spend the time to identify some weevils (as it turned out A weevil) because it's more rewarding, or rewarding in a different way, than racking up numbers. Not that I had an alternate way to do that - grasses? Ehhhhh ... let me look at those weevils ...

First a lovely creeping thistle tephritid. An easy one to find and the RES has free tephritid keys (in which you can look at the pictures!). Smashing.

Tephritis hyoscyami
Now the lovely Otiorhynchus armadillo, a county first and a big lump of thing to drop out of beaten ivy. I thought it was another Liophloeus tessulatus at first, but when I pulled it from the pot I could see immediately that it wasn't. Well, I say "immediately" - I did pull the Liophloeus from the box to check.

Another sunny day today and finally Nettle-tap moths and Orange-tips were flitting around. I started to think they had become extinct. They certainly took their time.

Anyway, with a few more pots gathered if I stayed up all night I might make 600 before morning. That's not going to happen. I may score a moth or two if I venture out after dark, mind you.

584 Tephritis hyoscyami A Tephritid fly
585 Anaspis maculata A Tumbling Flower Beetle
586 Ixodes ricinus Sheep Tick
587 Rubus idaeus Raspberry
588 Othiorhynchus armadillo A Broad-nosed Weevil
589 Anthocharis cardamines Orange-tip
590 Anthophila fabriciana Nettle-Tap

Oh! And here's my new desk. So the beetle is the first first-for-county to Christen my new desk. Yay.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Scraps and wascally weevils

Grinding my way through scraps of this and that, and making heavy work of the last mile of the 500s. I created myself a weevil workshop on Sunday morning when everything I swept had a new weevil in it! Banged my head off one last night briefly before realising I wasn't in a sufficiently weevil frame of mind. I have no doubt I'll get them - it's just a question of when!

I also have an ever growing collection of jars with leaves which I may turn into records at some point and another gall mite leaf from which I will try (again) to extract some living thing from. I'm still recording them - just not counting them! Phyllocoptes goniothorax rolled hawthorn leaf edges are the latest.

I'll continue to scratch around and see if I can throw something else on the pile from the comfort of my chair. It's raining outside and lunchtime looks like an opportune moment to prioritise my expanding waistline over my expanding list!
Bibio marci was out in force

A "medium" sized weevil with a pointy pronotum

Anaspis maculata

Limonia phragmitidis

Phyllocoptes goniothorax


581 Stenodema laevigata A mirid bug
582 Limonia phragmitidis A cranefly
583 Athous haemorrhoidalis A click beetle
584 Tephritis hyoscyami A tephritid fly
585 Anaspis maculata A Tumbling Flower Beetle

An appeal for help:
I only noticed late in the day this plant which looks sort of onion-y and smells sort of garlicky when you break a leaf. Yet I have no name for it. It's scattered on the woodland floor especially on the edges and I never noticed it (or did I and now I can't id it?). It also has a rust. So I'm two species in the hole here. All assistance gratefully appreciated!

A correction:
Once out of the pot this clearly wasn't a Criorhina. It's a Merodon equestris, which from its location among the daffs isn't a huge surprise. A disappointment, maybe, but not a surprise.

Friday, 19 May 2017

May (and year) target for bristletails reached

After lifting more rocks than a cartoon convict I finally found my bristletails by leaving a strandline tupperware dish in the gap under a log. Fortunately they were little as the dish was dry and deep enough that they couldn't leap out (lord knows they were trying). That strandline find has become an important piece of field equipment, and nobody's going to steal it! Probably ...

underwhelming insect life!

A lunchtime search for life on hawthorn flowers produced only one thing, but it was a nice one - Criorihanna berberina, a hoverfly that has been missing from my list. That's the second Criorhina for the square this year so well chuffed with that. Brings up 80 hovers for my county list (total county list 121, though I added 8 of those)

Also the Silver Ground Carpet season has started, with two flushed from long grass. In previous seasons they have made an impressive display over grassy embankments on the reserve but it takes some restraint to avoid netting them when they fly across your field of view. You do get your eye in though and start to be able to avoid them.

Temporarily restrained SGC

Look how many Nedyus you get in one sweep of nettles! Can barely imagine what the population of this wood is

I returned to work to find this Small Phoenix on the wall. Sadly not countable, but there must be a fair few in the square I suppose.

Brief numbers update - over 580 - yay!
578 Criorhina berberina A hoverfly
579 Petrobius maritimus Sea Bristletail
580 Xanthorhoe montanata Silver Ground Carpet

Come into my larder

A decent day of additions yesterday and my stock was still bigger at the end than at the beginning

A fairly routine spider swept out of the grass and a nice new fly for me means there are only two Calliphoridae on the county list which I havne't seen. As usual this may not be such an achievement as one might suppose with a family county fauna of 11 species. I do love the calypterates though, so a new Pollenia (amentaria) is a good day. Xysticus cristatus was the spider in question. Common-ness aside it's still quite a handsome spider.

Continuing to throw my arms around ecology I visited the gorse where I knew Cydia ulicetana (the Grey Gorse Piercer!) was likely to be in abundance, since it is just along the coast. It was, with individuals flitting around all over the tops of the gorse..

Black abdomen, no stripes


569 Tipula oleracea A cranefly
570 Medicago lupulina Black Medick
571 Sagina procumbens Procumbent Pearlwort
572 Sylvia borin Garden Warbler
573 Philaenus spumarius Cuckoo-Spit Insect
574 Cydia ulicetana Grey Gorse Piercer 
575 Alopecurus pratensis Meadow Foxtail
576 Xysticus cristatus A spider
577 Pollenia amentaria A cluster fly

Thursday, 18 May 2017


Found some nice occupied leaf mines in Heraclium yesterday and duly recorded them only to find that there is another possibility. Denied! Also failed to find any living being on two species of sycamore gall last night so that was all round a disappointing experience. Anyway the leaves are in a jar and hopefully will provide an answer in due course.

Everything did go a bit beetley yesterday, with a Phaedon tumidulus and an Amara. I'll level with you here - I called in Luff to help out Duff and only after Luff did I succeed with Duff. Everything seemed clearer when offerred another point of view and the "right" answer. It was the vanilla Amara - ovata. To be fair Duff did quickly sort out the Phaedon which I had tried to make be something else. It just wouldn't let me, which is as valuable as helping you to the right answer. I also have a nice big click beetle that I didn't have time for last night.

Phaedon- cack on the front end thankfully came off easily

The Phaedon smooth "triangle"

Amara ovata

The square is now just an all-you-can-id buffet, with too many things to shake a lens at. A brief tour this morning provided a recently-arrived Garden Warbler very active (thank god) among the foliage, a few plants, a troublesome amount of flowering grass and a nice big Tipula oleracea. The Tipula itself is a reminder that, despite the numbers ramping up, it's still really only spring!

Numbers ticking along nicely:
566 Bombus lapidarius Large Red-tailed Bumblebee
567 Phaedon tumidulus A Leaf Beetle
568 Amara ovata A Ground beetle
569 Tipula oleracea A cranefly
570 Medicago lupulina Black Medick
571 Sagina procumbens Procumbent Pearlwort
572 Sylvia borin Garden Warbler
573 Philaenus spumarius Cuckoo-Spit Insect

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

You tach the high road, and I'll tach the low road - Winthemia quadripustulata

A decent day yesterday topped by re-keying and re-checking a nice tachinid fly which looks a likely candidate for a Scottish first (checking with NMS in case other records exist, as often turns out to be the case). Certainly the 6th tachinid I've added to the county's paltry list of 29 species.

W.quadripustulata is the most common of the British species, but NBN has no other records in the genus north of Leeds.

NBN map of Winthemia genus:

With the other, almost inconsequential, additions ...
561 Adela reaumurella Green Long-horn
562 Winthemia quadripustulata A Tachinid fly
563 Clubiona lutescens A clubionid spider
564 Paranchus albipes A ground beetle
565 Dasysyrphus venustus A hoverfly

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Numbers geekiness

Latest additions:
13/05/2017 554 Ulmus glabra Wych Elm
13/05/2017 555 Hirundo rustica Barn Swallow
14/05/2017 556 Anatis ocellata Eyed Ladybird
14/05/2017 557 Lydina aenea A tachinid fly
15/05/2017 558 Epirrhoe alternata Common Carpet
15/05/2017 559 Epiphyas postvittana Light Brown Apple Moth
15/05/2017 560 Endrosis sarcitrella White-shouldered House-moth

Overall numbers:

Jan Feb Mar Apr 16-May
Algae 8 13 16 17 17
Lichens 37 41 43 44 44
Fungi 28 31 44 49 51
Vert - Birds 38 50 56 62 63
Vert - Other 2 4 8 9 9
Lepidoptera 1 2 9 14 21
Diptera 4 7 12 41 50
Arachnida 4 13 20 25 28
Coleoptera 6 17 17 21 30
Mollusc 9 24 27 33 33
Collembola 8 10 12 12 12
Invert - Other 22 33 51 62 73
Plants - Vascular 47 63 74 92 99
Plants - Bryo 22 29 30 30 30

236 337 419 511 560

Progress status:

date 31-Jan 28-Feb 31-Mar 30-Apr 16-May
days remaining 334 306 275 245 229
species so far 236 337 419 511 560
species/day period 7.61 3.61 2.65 3.07 3.06
spec/day so far 7.61 5.71 4.66 4.26 4.12
species remaining 764 663 581 489 440
spec/day rqd 2.29 2.17 2.11 2.00 1.92
spec/week rqd 16.01 15.17 14.79 13.97 13.45

Monday, 15 May 2017

Lydina aenea

After wrestling with a specimen for a couple of days I have now finally had confirmed as Lydina aenea, which has no records in south/central Scotland according to NBN and indeed according to the distribution in the species account in Belshaw.

Over the last couple of years I have been bashing my local reserve (sadly neglected this year!) and recorded just over 1000 species there. Inevitably in that time I have discovered county firsts and one first for Scotland. This leads me to the conclusion, albeit hasty, that there is a ratio of new things you will find for any given number of species. Each site has produced one species new to Scotland. Each has produced several new to county. I'd bet these ratios are more or less similar. I am dubbing these "The Shuttleworth Ratios"until I find out somebody else has called them something else. Obviously these will vary depending on where you are.

The exciting thing about this is that I have a chance to prove it in another square. 1000 species next year in a different square ought to produce something new for Scotland. Let's see. How many for new to Britain, or new to science - 5k? 10k?

Anyway, here you an see how good a record this is - well pleased with that!

Lee's Ladybird

So I was "off duty" and playing with my son when he said, "Daddy - there's a ladybird"

Good boy. That'll do nicely :)

There'll be more on the Lydina later -it's sort of out for refereeing at the mo.

Weekend's other bits:
551 Sonchus asper Prickly Sow-thistle
552 Osmia bicornis Red Mason Bee
553 Clubiona comta A spider
554 Ulmus glabra Wych Elm
555 Hirundo rustica Barn Swallow
556 Anatis ocellata Eyed Ladybird
557 Lydina aenea A tachinid fly

Friday, 12 May 2017

Fungal Fives

550 up with one new fungus last night. Spent a bit of time identifying another fungus only to notice this morning that I recorded it in March!

Sphaeropsis sapinea on Scots pine cone

immature spores growing

mature spores

Microsphaeria viburni
Microsphaeria viburni
Yesterday lunchtime I found a dead mouse on the patch but only attended by Calliphoras vicina and vomitoria at that time. I'll revisit it today and see if it's (a) still there and (b) attended by any Silphidae. Have to improve my measly record of one!