Friday, August 18, 2017

Dalgety Bay - 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, August 16, 2017

Skye - Why the long face?

Ooof, been a while since I updated - three weeks in fact. I've only been out a few times and managed to scrape up another 50 odd species including ten that were lifers for me. First lifer was Bombus hortorum, yeah the REALLY REALLY common Garden Bumblebee. I'm not really very into bees (ha, can you tell?) but I keyed this one through and instantly came up with a joke. Would you like to hear it? You would? Cool. A Bombus hortorum walks into a bar and asks for a beer. Barman says, "so...why the long face?" Hahahaa, I crack me up! I'll get me coat.... 

Bombus hortorum alongside its mimic Volucella bombylans
Best find was, of course, The Beast of Boggy Creek. You can read about that on my PSL Blog here.

Finally managed to bag an odonata with several Common Hawkers Aeshna juncea whizzing about the hotel grounds and a handful of Scotch Argus Erebia aethiops have been seen this month too. Moths are around, but I've hardly paid them any attention. Stuff like Udea lutealis, Argyresthia goedartella, Stenoptilia bipunctidactyla and Brown China-mark disturbed by day and the larva of The Spectacle, Phyllonorycter oxycanthae, P.sorbi, Lyonetia clerkella and Grey Dagger noted on vegetation/in their mines.

Grey Dagger larva advising me not to eat it...
Best insect by a country mile though was this bad boy. Spotted whilst ambling along the path at the top of the beach. And yeah, it stopped me dead in my tracks! 

Cynomya mortuorum - the one with the amazing yellow head!
I didn't even know blowflies came in a yellow-headed version, all I could think of was that it looked like a tiny Tachina grossa. Luckily there's only one yellow-headed blowfly, so I didn't even need to pot it up to ID it. Less stunning was this maggot in a mine

Agromyza nana larva in its mine on White Clover
Sticking with inverts, I was happy to find a Dicranopalpus ramosus in the bathroom a week or so back. Last December I discovered there were several on a wall at the other end of the hotel complex which were the first ones for NW Scotland and the Hebs. So it is nice to see that they survived the winter and are still on site. Most NW site in Britain (maybe the world? I'd have to check!)

Dicranopalpus ramosus, sadly not caudatus but still brilliant for up here
Added quite a few vascular plants to the tally and finally topped 250 species in the square. Still loads more that I'm overlooking (grasses, sedges and rushes being the obvious ones) and I'd be surprised if the true tally for the square wasn't nearer 350 species. Common Yellow-sedge was keyed using the BSBI book and was a lifer for me. Hybrid Woundwort was found 35 paces from the nearest  Marsh Woundwort clump and growing right alongside it's other parent, Hedge Woundwort. I'm counting this towards my target of 1000 species as it is a stable hybrid which often exists in the absence of one or other parents. Plus it has its own number in Stace, which as we all know means it's good to tick :) 

Hedge (left), Hybrid (middle) and Marsh (right) Woundworts
Interestingly, the Hybrid Woundwort smells just as disgusting as the Hedge (Marsh is odourless) yet is still in flower (Hedge has just about all gone over now). I couldn't find any Hybrid amongst the Marsh, just with the Hedge. That's probably significant, but I'm not that clued up on plant genetics so shall leave it at that.  Out of the woods and up on a hilltop I stumbled into this stunner

Field Gentian - still the only species of Gentian I've ever seen
Finally, on to the fungi. Autumn is fast approaching and fungi are starting to become more prominent. Unfortunately for me, I'm shite at them. Proper shite. Many Devil's-bit Scabious leaves are infested with Ramularia succisae, which was new for the tally. Other than that I spent a lot of time staring in mild horror at the multitude of waxcap-type things and dung fungi that are beyond my capabilities. I did recognise this one though

Claviceps purpurea - Ergot in some 'grassy stuff'
Time for the list! 

802 - moth - The Spectacle (larva)
803 - bee - Bombus hortorum - PSL Lifer (yeah yeah, get over it...)
804 - dragonfly - Common Hawker
805 - butterfly - Scotch Argus
806 - amphibian - Beast of Boggy Creek (yeehaw!!)
807 - plant - Bulbous Rush
808 - plant - Heath Rush
809 - plant - Common Yellow-sedge PSL Lifer
810 - plant - Flea Sedge
811 - plant - Crested Dog's-tail
812 - fungus - Ramularia succisae (on Devil's-bit Scabious)
813 - moth - Udea lutealis
814 - moth - Phyllonorycter oxycanthae (larva in mine)
815 - sawfly - Fenusa dohrnii - PSL Lifer
816 - plant - Hybrid Woundwort
817 - fungus - Claviceps purpurea (Ergot)
818 - plant - Montbretia (previous plants were all Potts' Montbretia, so had to hunt this out)
819 - harvestman - Dicranopalpus ramosus
820 - plant - Annual Sea-blite
821 - mammal - Weasel (subliminal views only)
822 - mite - Aceria thomasi (masses inside Thyme galls)
823 - plant - Greater Butterfly Orchid (missed off!)
824 - moth - Lyonetia clerkella (larva in mine)
825 - moth - Phyllonorycter sorbi (larva in mine)
826 - hoverfly - Eristalis arbustorum
827 - hoverfly - Cheilosia illustrata
828 - hoverfly - Syrphus ribesii
829 - hoverfly - Eristalis horticola - PSL Lifer
830 - hoverfly - Syritta pipiens
831 - plant - False Brome
832 - moth - Brown China-mark
833 - fly - Agromyza nana (larva in mine)
834 - plant - Marsh Arrowgrass
835 - plant - Marsh Ragwort
836 - moss (!) - Racomitrium lanuginosum
837 - plant - Field Gentian
838 - plant - Purple Moor-grass (missed off!)
839 - plant - Wavy Hairgrass
840 - gall midge - Jaapiella veronicae (lots of galled Germander Speedwell)
841 - moth - Grey Dagger (larva)
842 - moth - Argyresthia goedartella
843 - mite - Aceria nalepai (a few seen inside midrib galls on Alder leaf)
844 - fly - Cynomya mortuorum (Yellow-faced Blowfly) - PSL Lifer
845 - mite - Eriophyes sorbi (lots inside galls on Rowan leaf) - PSL Lifer
846 - mite - Phyllocoptes goniothorax (difficult to find in Hawthorn leaf rolls)
847 - plant - Himalayan Balsam (one plant, which I immediately uprooted. No thanks!)
848 - bug - Water Cricket Velia caprai (ie my supposed Microvelia of earlier this year......)
849 - moth - Stenoptilia bipunctidactyla
850 - hoverfly - Cheilosia bergenstammi - PSL Lifer
851 - hoverfly - Syrphus vitripennis
852 - hoverfly - Cheilosia albitarsus - PSL Lifer
853 - hoverfly - Sphegina clunipes - PSL Lifer
854 - hoverfly - Melanogaster hirtella - PSL Lifer
855 - hoverfly - Platycheirus albimanus

Nice to be reunited with my copy of Hoverflies (Stubbs & Falk) and finally start putting names to pinned bits. Lots more still to go through!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Sand Point VC6

Nice to visit the patch after quite a long gap. Several new species after a couple of hours in the field last thursday. Was hoping to get to 200 diptera for the patch by the end of the year which may still be possible (167 currently). Weather has prevented any further moth trapping so perhaps a waiting game for the late summer/autumn migrants.

811. Eriothrix rufomaculata
812. Acrosathe annulata
813. Machaerium maritimae
814. Campiglossa plantaginis
815. Physiphora alceae
816. Hylaeus dilatatus Yellow Chalk-face Bee
817. Lasioglossum albipes Bloomed Furrow Bee
818. Sphaerophoria scripta
819. Lasioglossum leucozonium White-zoned Furrow Bee
820. Oxybelus uniglumis Common Spiny Digger Wasp
821. Hybos culiciformis
822. Ocytata pallipes
823. Minettia tabidiventris
824. Cerodontha denticornis
825. Oscinella frit
826. Thaumatomyia glabra
827. Oscinella pusilla
828. Delia platura
829. Reichertella geniculata

Ocytata pallipes

Physiphora alceae

Reichertella geniculata

Thaumatomyia glabra

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Dalgety Bay - Down with the sickness

My Picasa has come down with the sickness. It's decided to stop showing me photos, including editing them. This is a source of some considerable annoyance 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 Potato Capsid

Potted potato pest

The brief moment I had it right before I got it wrong

I initially identified it correctly then misidentified it subsequently somehow then had that corrected by Maria Justamond 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!

The good news is I crossed the 850 threshold ahead of schedule and have my eyes firmly fixed on reaching the final tenth. Exciting times indeed. Actually I haven't mentioned it much, but Fallopia convolvulus was my 200th lifer of the list. Have to be pleased with that!

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

Friday, August 4, 2017

Dalgety Bay - 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!

Throwaway factoid: 1 in every 4.5 species has been a lifer for me - not a bad return!

Fife's new blowfly...

Pollenia pediculata - Hairy-armpit Clusterfly

The easiest keying ever
And the Wood Woollyfoot ...

"fairy ring"

The woolly foot

August additions:
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
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
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, August 2, 2017

Waldridge - End of July report

Still progressing with the square, now up to 874 though still relying heavily on the moth trap and moths in general. Amongst these since last time were two new for the garden (and the square) Hypsopygia glaucinalis, a  distinctive micro moth and Clay Triple-Lines.

Clay Triple-Lines

Hypsopygia glaucinalis

 In addition to these a few more plants were found, most of them beginning with 'E', two Willowherbs, 1 in Wanister Bog together with Common Spike-rush and a few Marsh Horsetail well away fromthe big patch of Water Horsetail, and the other Willowherb, American, an increasing species, found as a pavement weed. The latter I've had in the garden before but not this year. The other plant is another increasing Alien, Cut or Fern leaved Bramble.

Rubus laciniatus
Throw in a fungus Gnat (Sciara hemerobioides) and thats my lot for July.

Keith Robson
Waldridge VC66

Dalgety Bay - patch silver!

New in at 831 - Herring Gull! While doing a review of birds seen in the Bay versus birds seen in the square this year to highlight target species I discovered this embrassing omission.

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

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Yeovil end July update

Over half way!
Finished July on 528 species and will keep on trying to add more over the coming months but 1000 is looking very unlikely.
Plants 214, Bryophytes 3, Fungi 8, Lichens 14, Annelids 3, Crustacea 2, Spiders 10, Mollusc 9, Myriapods 2, Diptera 23, Hymenoptera 27, Coleoptera 24, Moths 75, Butterflies 17, Odonata 11,
Orthoptera 3, Other insects 3, Fish 1, Amphibia 3, Birds 56 & Mammals 8.

The number of moths recorded just from moths disturbed (or noted at rest) during the day is higher than I expected. Shame there is nowhere safe in the square to run a trap.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Dalgety Bay - 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 surely married 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 Fumaria muralis Common Ramping-fumitory
811 Vanellus vanellus Lapwing
812 Fragaria vesca Wild Strawberry
813 Armillaria mellea Honey Fungus
814 Cyanea lamarckii Blue Jellyfish
815 Cyanea capillata Lion's Mane Jellyfish
816 Elymus repens Couch Grass

Friday, July 28, 2017

Dalgety Bay, Fife - Patch Gold!

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!

(note - I know Shoveler is spelled with one "l" but iRecord, where it was cut and pasted from, appparently doesn't!)

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