Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Skye - Fifty Shades of Green

Quick blast into the square today between rainbursts. The tide was mostly in but I had a look across the top of the beach anyway. I could see a long line of yucky white gunk along the water's edge and headed off to investigate. Nothing to worry about, it was just spume. The only object that caught my attention on the beach was this rather lovely razor shell covered in the calcified tubes of Spirobranchus triqueter. Despite dunking them into the sea I failed to see any sign of the worms inside, hence they aren't added to my tally (yet...)

Triangular in cross-section with a sharp 'spike' above the mouth of the tube
Leaving the beach I headed into the woods and discovered a large pile of rocks behind the community hall car park. I had a search under several rocks finding plenty of slugs including a single Worm Slug Boettgerilla pallens and several Budapest Slugs Tandonia budapestensis complete with accompanying 'slug mites' scurrying across them. It has recently been discovered that the mites on slugs are a different species than was first thought. In Britain (and across much of Europe) they have proved to be Riccardoella oudemansi and not Riccardoella limacum as was assumed. According to the brilliant FSC Slugs of Britain & Ireland Budapest Slugs have not been recorded from northern Skye before, in fact there's just one dot on the map for Skye as a whole. But it is a successfully expanding species (much to the dismay of farmers and gardeners, this really is a pest species!) so I'm not at all surprised to find them in Uig. Worm Slug was only discovered on Skye in the early 2000s (and only discovered in Britain in 1972) so it's done well to move this far in little over 40 years. There was also a single Tramp Slug Deroceras invadens beneath the stones. 
This is the pile of rocks in question. Doubtless I shall come here again (and again...and again...)
As you can see, the woodland floor is starting to burst into life with thousands upon thousands of seedlings thrusting through. Give it another month and I'll be able to start identifying them! Actually I can do a few, even at this stage. Ground Elder is most evident in the above image, but there's a Dandelion and some Cow Parsley in there too. 

Common Nettle, a nice easy one! Here amongst Cow Parsley and Ground-ivy
Big clump of Montbretia growing by the woodland stream
A few Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage are in flower already
Naturalised (or maybe fully wild?) Daffodil clump

Seeing as it had been raining and the lichens were looking at their best, I visited the Lobaria virens tree. Yep, no getting away from it, this looks pretty damn amazing when wet! This is without flash or image manipulation
Lobaria virens - translates literally as "the Green Lobaria"
 And with that I've run out of greens. I didn't find any lifers out there today, or at least none that I could identify, but it was good just to get out into the woods despite the buffeting wind and ever present threat of a drenching.
342 - Kindbergia praelonga (moss)
343 - Douglas Fir (plant - naturalised seedlings)
344 - Tadonia budapestensis - Budapest Slug (mollusc)
345 - Deroceras invadens - Tramp Slug (mollusc)
346 -  Riccardoella oudemansi - Slug Mite (arachnid)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A few more.

A few from yesterday.

234..Quedius picipes (Beetle)
235..Anthobium unicolor (Beetle)
236..Bryum capillare (Moss)
237..Choleva agilis (Beetle)
Choleva agilis
238..Psychoides filicivora (Moth). Found this one on the ceiling of my bedroom

These where from tonight, had a quick stop off at some walls and a small quarry at the bottom end of my village.

239..Forficula auricularia (Earwig)
240..Armadillidium vulgare (Woodlouse)
241..Arion iratii (Slug)
Arion iratii by torch

Another Arion iratii by torch

242..Tachypodoiulus niger (Millipede)
243..Balea sarsii (Snail)
Balea sarsii from Chapel wall

244..Armadillidium depressum (Woodlouse)

Also saw this Oniscus asellus, not seen this color form before. 
Oniscus asellus

Total so far...
Sprintails etc.......9
Annelid Worms...5


Dalgety Bay, NT1582: All the small things

Rummaging around in the woods yesterday I managed to pick up a bit of this and that and was on my way back to the car when I had a thought that some woodlice I saw may not have been O.asellus. It's not a group I have a lot of familiarity with outside a handful of species so I turned back to take a second look.

Turned out this was fortunate as I noticed a small spiky ball on the edge of the stone I turned to pick some specimens from. A quick handlens examination came up trumps with a Spiny Snail (Acanthinula aculeata) and alongside it another small snail. Double the size of the first but still pretty tiny - Lauria cylindracea. Still on the same small stone the size wars continued as there was also Punctum pygmaeum. A lovely trio of tiny snails, like some kind of Mollusc nouvelle cuisine. All went into the smallest pot with oodles of space to spare.

And the numbers bit:

Class Jan Feb
Verts 40 54
Inverts 54 89
Plants 69 88
Fungi 65 71
Algae 8 13
Total 236 315

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Brithdir Bank

Gave this area a look over today. Most of the large trees have been cleared by Network Rail, log piles every where...out of photo. Picked up several beetles (which made my day as i was beginning to think Beetles had all but vanished from my square), some Pseudo's and a few other things. Taking me to 233 with still a few things to check through...

198..Crocosmia x crocosmifolia (Monbretia)
199..Geum urbanum – Herb Bennet
200..Pholcus phalangioides (Spider)
201..Eiseniella tetraedra (Earthworm)
202..Stigmatogaster subterranea (Centipede)
203..Urtica dioica - Nettle
204..Microplana scharffi (Flatworm)
205..Tomocerus minor (Springtail)
206..Sabacon viscayanum subsp ramblaianum (Harvestman)
207..Trochila ilicina (Fungi)
Trochila ilicina - Holly Speckle
208..Bembidion lampros (Beetle)
209..Hylebainosoma nontronensis (Millipede)
Hylebainosoma nontronensis
210..Hyacinthoides non-scripta – Bluebell
211..Cepaea nemoralis (Snail)
212..Schizophyllum commune (Fungi)
Schizophyllum commune
213..Neobulgaria pura (Fungi)
214..Dicyrtoma fusca (Springtail)
215..Anacaena globulus (Beetle)
216..Cartodere nodifer (Beetle)
217..Lachnum virgineum (Fungi)
218..Tychus niger (Beetle)
219..Megalothorax minimus (Springtail)
220..Bembidion tetracolum (Beetle)
221..Neobisium carcinoides (Pseudoscorpion)
222..Roncus lubricus (Pseudoscorpion)
Roncus lubricus (Pseudoscorpion)
223..Hypoxylon fuscum (Fungi)
224..Neanura muscorum (Springtail)
225..Sitta europaea – Nuthatch
226..Buteo buteo – Buzzard
227..Strigamia crassipes (Centipede)
Strigamia crassipes
228..Ocys harpaloides (Beetle)
229..Medon brunneus (Beetle)
230..Metzgeria furcata (Liverwort)
231..Lophocolea bidentata (Liverwort)
Lophocolea bidentata and Rhizomnium punctatum
232..Rhizomnium punctatum (Moss)
233..Platynus assimilis (Beetle)
Platynus assimilis       

Friday, February 17, 2017

Bargoed Edgeland

Bargoed Edgeland
Gave myself an extra long dinner break and decided to visit a rough bit of ground known for its Ghost slug population. The site didn't disappoint, as it produced a Ghosty almost immediately. It didn't look to be in the best of shapes and it wouldn't extend.

Ghost Slug
The scarce Millipede Propolydesmus testaceus was seen in its usual high numbers, alongside another scarce Millipede Brachychaeteuma melanops.
Brachychaeteuma melanops
Further in was some hibernating Herald moths, counted 41 in all, a Cryptopa parisi and several Liverworts that covered much of the ground and walls...mostly Lunularia cruciata, Preissia quadrata and Pellia endiviifolia.

Herald Moths

Site of Hibernating Herald Moths
Cryptops parisi
Preissia quadrata
Lunularia cruciata
Cutting thought the fence to get onto the river produced a Goldcrest hunting through the Buddleja. Some fresh Otter spraint seen along the sewer pipe running along the there is one about.

Rhymney River

Otter Spraint
Scanning the large high walls for signs of life produced another Ghost slug. First time I've ever come across one out in the open like this, especially climbing? Not sure if this has been documented before?
Ghost Slug
Ghost Slug climbing wall

An Honey Bee sat out on a stone on upper banks of the river. While a Water Cricket and Amphibious Leech were found.
Water Cricket
Amphibious Leech

Honey Bee

173..Herring gull

174..Glomeris marginata (Millipede)

175..Boettgerilla pallens (Slug)

176..Propolydesmus testaceus (Millipede)

177..Selenochlamys ysbryda (Slug)

178..Brachychaeteuma melanops (Millipede)

179..Cryptops parisi (Centipede)

180..Hypericum androsaemum – Tutsan

181..Caltha palustris – Marsh Marigold


183..Allolobophora chlorotica (Earthworm)

184..Salmo trutta – Brown Trout

185..Mimulus guttatus – Monkey Flower

186..Scrophularia auriculata – Water Figwort

187..Apis mellifera – Honey Bee

188..Velia caprai – Water Cricket

189..Scoliopteryx libatrix – The Herald (Moth)

190..Lunularia cruciata (Lichen)

191..Rubus tricolour - Creeping Chinese Bramble

192..Rubus armeniacus - Himalayan blackberry

193..Lemna minor – Common Duckweed

194..Preissia quadrata (Liverwort)

195..Pellia endiviifolia – (Liverwort)

196..Plagiomnium undulatum – Moss

197..Trocheta subviridis (Leech)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Skye - A Promise of Spring

Just a quick whizz out and about today. Spent a short while on the beach and found a couple of extra bits - Chainweed Catenella caespitosa fringing the base of a large rock near the high water mark, growing beneath Serrated Wrack just like it says in the book. Also managed some better pics of the marine lichen Verrucaria mucosa, these showing a nice olive colouration

A far better background than yesterday's image!
And although this next image will make your eyes swim, this was the best I could manage of the tiny Lichina confinis, one I've not seen before. Very similar to Lichina pygmaea but found below the mid-water mark as opposed to the upper levels. Still seems weird to me that we have marine lichens, I always assumed they'd die if immersed in saltwater!

Too glaring with flash, too dull without...grey lichen on a grey rock taken on a grey day!
This also was new to me, but definitely dead and hence not countable (despite what this article says!) This is Snail Fur Hydractinia echinata, an encrusting hydrozoan that settles on whelk shells inhabited by hermit crabs. Can't wait to find both living animals!

Dead colony of Snail Fur Hyrdactinia echinata on washed-up whelk shell
Back in the woods I had an explore at the back of a car park and found a flourishing patch of variegated Yellow Archangel, presumably originating from garden throw-out material

Should look spectacular when in flower
The woodland floor is covered in thousands of Ground-elder seedlings, Common Nettles are also starting to push through. The stream has had a sudden flush of life, this was just bare mud last week!

Marsh Marigold clumps. I love these plants - so good for insects!
Last thing of note was Ramularia gei, a microfungus that infects the living leaves of Wood Avens. The purple border isn't always present but it shows well here. This has been visible all through the winter, I've just kept missing it! 

Ramularia gei - a new one for me
333 - Catenella caespitosa (marine alga)
334 - Lichina confinis (lichen) - Lifer
335 - Yellow Archangel (plant)
336 - Common Nettle (plant)
337 - Marsh Marigold (plant)
338 - Ground Elder (plant)
339 - Common Scurvygrass (plant)
340 - Ramularia gei (microfungus) - Lifer

So that's the first third of the 1000 species under the belt. Should go a bit slower for the next month or so before the inverts burst into action - then it'll all go mental for a few months! I'm well ahead of my 2013 tally for the 7th week of the year. In 2013 I reached 300 species on 26th February and 400 on 17th April. Hopefully I'll hit 400 before March is out this year.

EDIT: 341 - Pied Wagtail (bird) on 17th Feb.

Graig - Old Quarry

137..Polyporus leptocephalus (Fungi)
138..Veronica persica - Common Field Speedwell (in garden flower bed)
139..Parmotrema perlatum (Lichen)
140..Scolopostethus affinis (Bug). Under stone in garden near garden compost bin
141..Cladonia portentosa (Lichen)
142..Castanea sativa – Sweet Chestnut
143..Carrion Crow
144..Buddleja davidii – Butterfly Bush
145..Auricularia auricula-judae – Jews Ear
146..Vitrina pellucida (Snail)
147..Microplana terrestris (Flatworm) 

The common native flatworm Microplana terrestris and Vitrina pellucida from under same stone.

148..Trichoniscus pusillus (Woodlouse)
149..Leptoiulus belgicus (Millipede)
150..Sambucus nigra – Elder
151..Hyphodontia sambuci – Elder White Wash (Fungi)
152..Salix caprea – Goat Willow
153..Blaniulus guttulatus (Millipede)
154..Limacus maculatus (Slug)

Limacus muculatus from under a loose bit of branch. Was hoping for some beetles but no joy. Come to think of it, i've only seen one beetle in my square so far, that was a Longitarsus sp on Ragwort. Poxy thing bounced before i could catch it. 

155..Exidia recisa (Fungi)
156..Cylindroiulus punctatus (Millipede)
157..Oxychilus draparnaudi (Snail)
158..Oxychilus navarricus helveticus (Snail)

The larger empty shell is of O. draparnaudi (there where several alive specimens seen), the ones below are both O. helvaticus.

159..Octolasion cyaneum (Earthworm)
160..Achillea millefolium – Yarrow
161..Jacobaea vulgaris – Common Ragwort
162..Rumex acetosa – Common Sorrel
163..Malus sylvestris – Crab Apple
164..Aegopinella nitidula (Snail)
165..Dacrymyces stillatus (Fungi)
166..Physcia tenella (Lichen)
167..Geophilus alpinus (Centipede)...was G. insculptus
168..Nemastoma bimaculatum (Harvestman)
169..Geophilus truncorum (Centipede)
170..Sarcoscypha austriaca (Fungi)
171..Ramalina farinacea (Lichen)
172..Terana caerulea - Cobalt Crust (Fungi)

This Cobalt Crust seems to show nearly every year on same Willow....stunning to see

 Total so far...
Sprintails etc.......4
Annelid Worms...2

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Skye - an AMAZING time at the beach

Hit the beach today. That was it. No work, no hills, no woods, no nuffin' - just the beach. I was there for hours n' hours and oh boy did I ever have a fun time! 

I concentrated on seaweeds (naughty word) marine alga and surprised myself by finding SEVEN new ones for my list. I walked away from a couple of red alga that looked too nondescript to even bother with (and I ignored the encrusting pink Lithophyllums!), but basically grilled all of the rest including a few green ones that required the microscope to clinch an ID. Ok, so I'll just whack up pics with captions - 

Prasiola stiptata in situ
Prasiola stiptata habbo shot - higher than the other species, often found where birds sit and crap.
Prasiola stipata - noticeable stipe which runs into blade, often several arise from a communal holdfast
Blidingia minima in situ where a freshwater burn runs across the rocks
Blidingia minima - cells not running in parallel rows (trust me...) hence not B.marginata
Cladophera rupestris - do-able on colour alone, but angle of branching and diagonal joins important too.
Choreocolax polysiphonia -  it's the pale 'galls' on the Polysiphonia lanosa
This was my find of the day - a truly tiny epiphytic colourless red alga that lives epiphytically on an epiphytic red alga, amazing! Took a lot of hard squinting to finally find some, then found several clumps on this one alga. Really pleased with this, a targeted search successfully completed. Talking of targeted epiphyte searches, this was another one - 

Elachista fusicola - growing here on Bladder Wrack
Elachista fusicola - microscope pic (and hence duff...)
Membranoptera alata - epiphytic on Cuvie stipes
Blimey, I never knew we had so many epiphytic marine algae, it's like a whole world full of bromeliads out there!!! 

Membranoptera alata microscope pic. Note the tetrasporangial sori in the blade at the bottom of the image
Hildenbrandia rubra - the red scuzz on the pebble. Massively prevalent across Uig Beach!
They were the lifers, add to that a host of other species that I've already seen and I was having a whale of a time. Didn't even fall over despite schlomping through acres of wrack! 

So that's seven new alga, but I also managed a new lichen. Massively common in this habitat, I have to thank Ali for the heads-up (I saw it in your blog!) Despite it being very common I managed the worst pics ever....apologies in advance! 

Verrucosia mucosa - note the pale outline to the thallus. Proper shite shot, huh?
I found a few other bits n bobs amongst the weed. As instructed by Steve Trewhella, I brought a tray with me this time and duly found another mollusc blob. Whack it in the tub and hey presto it grows horns and gills! 

I don't care what the experts say, I'm having this as Doris pseudoargus!
Also found this fella under a rock. Talk about slippery as an...oh....oh right, now I get it

Atlantic Eel Anguilla anguilla - note the Hildenbrandia rubra (red scuzz) on the pebble. Common as muck!
Managed to inadvertantly bring this chap home with me, hiding away amongst a clod of Cladophera. The shape of the telson (last segment of the body, the 'tail' if you like) is crucially important when identifying this genus of marine isopods.

Idotea granulatus - commonest of the genus but new for me (and 4th of the genus...)
Other things of interest included some amazing-looking sponges. My sense of smell is pretty poor (although I smell strongly if that means anything?) and I was unable to detect any bleach-like or bread-like smells emanating from this specimen. I suspect Breadcrumb Sponge but without microscopically checking the spicules it's a bit of a guessing game. Hence it's not on my list...yet

Probably Breadcrumb Sponge Halichondria panicea, but possibly not
And I found this dainty wee thing. No idea which species, a quick (2hr...) blast through various websites provided few clues. My good mate and fellow PSL weirdo Danny Cooper wisely counselled "anemones are a nightmare. Find a marine biologist or ignore them." If you are a marine biologist who knows the species, please do leave a comment!

I dunno, question is - do you?
Back at the top of the beach I found this lichen growing in mortar, possibly Collema cristatum (Ali, care to comment?) 

317 Hildenbrandia rubra (encrusting marine alga) - Lifer
318 Lichina pygmaea (lichen)
319 Verrucosa mucosa (lichen) - Lifer
320 Elachista fusicola (epiphytic marine alga) - Lifer
321 Choreocolax polysiphonia (epiphytic marine alga) - Lifer
322 Atlantic Eel (fish)
323 Doris pseudoargus (sea slug)
324 Prasiola stiptata (marine alga) - Lifer
325 Membranoptera alata (marine alga) - Lifer
326 Cladophera rupsetris (marine alga)
327 Blidingia minima (marine alga) - Lifer
328 Mastocarpus stellatus (marine alga)
329 Idotea granulosa (marine isopod) - Lifer
330 Ptilota gunneri (marine alga) - Lifer
331 Collema cristatum (lichen) - Lifer
332 Janua pagenstecheri (tubeworm)

Those ten lifers bump my British PSL to 4553 species.