Tuesday, 28 February 2017

End of Feb roundup

Today saw the "Big Five" of woodlice completed (Oniscus asellus, Porcellio scaber, Philoscia muscorum, Trichoniscus pusillus and Armadillidium vulgare) along with the other very common Sea Slater Ligia oceanica. This was helped on my the arrival of the FSC woodlice key and hopefully I may add another species through the year though a browse through the distribution of species suggests I shouldn't hope for too much - woodlice seem to mostly be southern softies!

Most groups have been recorded more or less in line with expectations, though Staphylinidae have done well comparatively. If any groups have been surprising they've been Collembola and Molluscs. Collembola is really only surprising because I didn't set out to pay that much attention to them - it just sort of happened. No doubt I'll add a few more now I'm into the swing with them. Molluscs of course benefitted hugely from working the seashore, though my land mollusc list has grown somewhat too and I'm developing an affinity for slugs. I expect to add a few more through the year and I haven't even recorded Arion ater yet!

Another group I'm expanding my awareness of is the marine algae, and the target for that is growing, aided by arrival of new literaure.

Species of the month in January was easily the springtail Anurida denisi. Species of the month for February, though it isn't the most scarce, has to be reprazentin for Molluscs and is the Prickly Snail Acanthinula aculeata

Below the high water mark I loved seeing this Willy Wonka Snail (flat periwinkle), which I don't think I ever got round to posting on here

So the numbers at the end of February (anything I do tonight will be lumped into March)

Class Jan Feb target %
Algae 8 13 22 59
Lichens 37 41 60 68
Fungi 28 31 100 31
Vert - Birds 38 50 110 45
Vert - Other 2 4 10 40
Lepidoptera 1 2 110 02
Diptera 4 7 100 07
Arachnida 5 13 55 24
Coleoptera 6 17 100 17
Mollusc 9 24 32 75
Invert - Other 29 43 135 32
Plants - Vascular 47 63 124 51
Plants - Bryo 22 29 45 64

236 337 1003 33

Ant Music

First ants on the board with a Red Ant (Myrmica rubra) in a yoghurt pot pitfall trap and a nest of Yellow Meadow Ant (Lasius flavus) disturbed yesterday.

Sadly since I've left my phone at home no photos of the latter for the moment.

Myrmica rubra - red Ant

A few more species have been thrown on the pile so we're comfortably over a third of the way there. I'll post a roundup later today

333 Myrmica rubra Red Ant
334 Lasius flavus Yellow Meadow Ant
335 Philoscia muscorum Common Striped Woodlouse
336 Protaphorura armata A springtail
337 Trichoniscus pusillus Common Pygmy Woodlouse

Monday, 27 February 2017

The Wild Rover

Crept to within one species of the 33%, or two species depending on how you like your rounding.

Everything end of last week was coming up staphylinid, with 10 rove beetles on the list now. The commonly-encountered Stenus impressus with its black knees and a hairy member of the  Tachyporinae, Sepedophilus nigripennis were shaken from leaf litter in Hopeward Wood.

Added to that from Bathing House wood on Saturday was Othius punctulatus, another commonly encountered (and easily keyed) Staph.

Added to that were some miscellaneous - a plant, a couple more additions to molluscs and a couple of arachnids, including the one target I finally hit before end of Feb which was a pseudoscorpion. Inevitably it was Neobisium carcinoides but it could, at least in theory, been a different one.

Sepedophilus nigripennis

Othius punctulatus

Stenus impressus

Neobisium carcinoides

Friday, 24 February 2017

Winter gnat count doubled! (to two)

Slim pickings yesterday with the weather preventing further outdoor excursions and my meagre stock not yielding much. I did have Trichocera hiemalis, though - appropriately a Winter Gnat.

Pics aren't the best but a lovely peaked fused gonocoxal bridge was observed. Specimen was from the 17th.

The family Trichoceridae is a nice compact family to work with. RES keys are free online and the whole key is one page.

hiemalis on the right

Thursday, 23 February 2017


Skies full of icy water this morning so today will be one of reflection and stock checking. I think I have enough in hand to fill an evening microscope session. Last night's session was mostly filled with disappointingly immature or already listed spiders, which wasn't unexpected. Oh, and an immature centipede (Polydesmus) just to add insult to injury.

There was one saving grace though - a lovely Staph which will be my first Rugilus when I get through the key. It was the last thing I looked at hiding in the corner of a pot, so I put it up for later perusal. I suspect it'll be rufipes. (see edit at bottom)

There are only three county records for the genus that I can see - one each of rufipes, erichsonii and orbiculatus. The last rufipes was in 1901, orbiculatus was pre-1900 and the erichsonii record I only have one location for without a date. It's going to be a good record and it's a nice new species in any case.

Carding went a bit awry when I dropped the glued card onto the beast and it descended like a spinning piece of toast, but I have more or less salvaged it. Ideally it should be done again.

Actually, looking at the NBN map (usual NBN caveats apply) my focus has been too narrow - it's a good record in national context too

Edit: I have run through all the species listed in NBN. Most species have yellow-tipped elytrae and a limited southerly distribution. erichsonii has large eyes (which from a brief glance I know is a feature tested in the key). Eliminating those one by one rufipes is the only species left standing. All the others are a bit FLAVIpes, which is presumably why this specific epithet was chosen.

(The keying for confirmation of rufipes took all of three couplets and two minutes!)

Wednesday, 22 February 2017


An update on how this year's numbers compare to previous year's recording attempts at Cullaloe LNR. February decline in numbers growth partly because it's February and partly because of going on holiday (all sets). Still the numbers are bigger and growing faster. Partly this will be due to an improved skillset and partly due to ease of access. It is possible, and occasionally happens, that I can be in my square in the morning, lunchtime and in the evening, which is not so for Cullaloe.

Next year, if I'm not fatigued and saying "never again", I may do the challenge in my house square so I can at least bag a bunch of moth records while I'm in bed! Shouldn't be fatigued, mind you. 1000 will be all over come autumn ...

Rocka Rolla

Two lifers from under rolled rocks yesterday in Hopeward Wood. The first is the spectacularly epigyned Helophora insignis, and the second a run-of-the-mill Staph Quedius fumatus. Neither is particularly exciting in its own right but they are both new to the list and new to me so I'll take that as a compensation.

The Helophora in particular will help me try to claw my way back into the PSL Arachnid top 30 that I was so cruelly ejected from (although, like nature, it is neither cruel nor kind. It just is what it is!)

I did also find this Pseudoscorp floating to the surface as I was wetting the Taxifolius but it remains to be see whether I can turn it into a record. It is very, very small - 0.4mm

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

All the small things

(copied over from 1k site so can be read in context)

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.

Membranoptera alata - an historic moment

Yesterday managed to key out Membranoptera alata in the AIDGAP Rhodophyta key, the first species I've keyed out there. Fortunately it gave itself up pretty easily. Once the identity was known I could see it in both seaweed books I have, although I had failed on picture matching. Pretty thing.

It likes to grow on the stipes of kelp, but in this case was on a smooth rock in a rock pool. I think I might press it.


Quickie numbers update - almost 100 inverts before March doesn't feel too bad!
Class tot-Jan tot-Feb
Verts 40 54
Inverts 54 89
Plants 69 88
Fungi 65 71
Algae 8 13
Sum 236 315

Monday, 20 February 2017

Grass clippings

Sifting through somebody else's discarded grass clippings - now there's something to get out of bed for on a Saturday morning!

I had my eye on these matted grass clippings, which had been dumped on top of a rotten log by some nearby householder last year. I knew that of a cold winter's day nothing says comfortable invert home better than a cosy pile of matted and close-fitting putrifying vegetation.

And so it was that my new favourite piece of kit and I made for the woods and the chucking and bashing began. I had hoped for three species of spider and a pseudoscorp. I made my target on spider, failed on pseudoscorp, but bagged a bonus beetle (thanks in part to fellow 1k square participant Christian Owen). The spiders were more or less routine. However, since I had the spider book out I also took out a nice one from the shore from the 14th, which turned out to be shore specialist and lifer Halorates reprobus.

Sunday morning saw a brief run around the shore pull up (and it really was, this time) Anurida maritima and some rather fetching little molluscs from underside of a rock just below HWM.


White tray - a boon to invert bothering

Haloretes - the rest looks like a standard Linyphiid!
Cingula trifasciata - largest 3mm
Numbers bit:
301 Lapsana communis Nipplewort
302 Ramalina subfarinacea A lichen
303 Tenuiphantes cristatus A Linyphiid spider
304 Halorates reprobus A Linyphiid spider
305 Cingula trifasciata A mollusc
306 Anurida maritima A springtail
307 Cartodere nodifer A scavenger beetle
308 Bathyphantes nigrinus A Linyphiid spider
309 Neriene montana A Linyphiid spider

(edit: despite two new spider spp. I have fallen out of the PSL top 30 for arachnids. Hell no. That ain't happ'nin'. Fingers will have to be got out!)

Firstly this

A more positive post later but first - recent weather has pushed a large amount of seaweed up the beach creating a fat strandline. This is full of strandline specialties as seen here:

This is only the smallest fragment of the collection - seriously has made me rethink how much I need to eat certain snacks!

Friday, 17 February 2017

Breaking news ... 300 up!

Tasgius melanarius, a Staph that I picked up this morning, is the 300th species ... still no pics ... yet

(also since I just found a perfect photo of Heteranomia squamula in the Collins seashore guide that will be getting re-assigned from the erroneous Anomia ephippium as was suspected would happen)

A picture of sorts

 Here's a graph of this year's efforts versus the couple of years I made notes on my local reserve (I spent 2016 recording only new species for the reserve - c.300 spp.).

February is always a slack month because January is spent hammering everything that's sort of "always there" and you're done with that by February. I also tend to get sick of winter by then and head off for a week to let the earth tip a little bit more favourably toward the sun.

Once that slack period gets done with, though, it's game on. Last year I got to spend the slack period learning about lichens. This year I get to spend it on the shore.

Cullaloe LNR is only a small part of a 1km square. Though to be fair I spend almost all my efforts on a small part of this year's square - a band between housing and the river. It's still plenty to be going on with though.

Only words ...

Lovely sunny day and low tide at lunchtime so what choice does one have? Off to the shore and headed straight for the tideline where I managed to locate some rock pools. What I didn't have, though, was a camera, which was sitting on my desk. Splendid.

A wizard time was had nonetheless and though I made some efforts to rip off Seth's Rage Against the Marine I barely scratched the surface. I did find the Hildenbrandia, which was pretty widespread, and I have a couple of bits and bobs that I hope will succumb to later perusal, but alas no photos. A couple of pools with abundant Corallina officinalis was rather fetching in the sunlight, and I even managed to rumble up a couple of fish, though a lack of camera made me unable to do so much with them. They all appeared to be the same (as if you can tell!) sort - in the blenny, shanny, goby wide headed sitting up on the sea bed sort of mould and I let the one I managed to catch go after a brief look. I am confident, moderately, that I can catch one another time so no point in harassing the poor thing further. It does make me feel like I was too pessimistic about my ability to record fish in the square.

(edit - not shanny/blenny, which seem to have major dorsal finnage to the fore. Common Goby looks the most likely contender) 
(2nd edit. another bloody bee flew past me while I was distracted and escaped ID again)

I also managed to bag another mammal as a grey squirrel shinned up a tree above the shore.

More searching for bristletails produced only slaters and hoppers sadly. I know you're out there!

Anyway, the numbers bit:

293 Spinus spinus Siskin
294 Pertusaria pseudocorallina A lichen
295 Sciurus carolinensis Eastern Grey Squirrel
296 Hildenbrandia rubra An alga
297 Corallina officinalis Coral Weed

Be nice and tidy to be at 333 by end of Feb

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Five a day

Still trying to make sure I get my five a day. This time it included three lifers, though two of those are surprising. I'd bet I've seen both before. The third, a tiny ascomycete, was a lucky find while rummaging about under logs for inverts.

Empoasca vitis
Seems very likely I have seen this befoer as I remember encountering similar and discarding it in the belief I would never ID it. It's an adult hibernator.

Julus scandinavius
I have found what was probably this earlier this year already but immature and unkeyable. Not sure what these paddles are for but what millipedes get up to in the privacy of their own logs is their own affair.

Cistella acuum
Used to be called Dasyscyphus, and named as such in both Ellis&Ellis and Dennis. In reality the clavate hairs are probably a marker for this not really belonging to that genus but first impressions certainly are that it is one. Substrate is one lone spruce needle. Sometimes it's really a small world.

The numbers bit:

285 Nemastoma bimaculatum A harvestman
286 Cygnus olor Mute Swan
287 Empoasca vitis A leafhopper
288 Cistella acuum An ascomycete
289 Julus scandinavius A millipede
290 Tachypodoiulus niger White-legged Snake Millipede

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

The Lady is a Tramp (slug)

I used to have a key to British slugs that went like this...

1a. Is it Arion ater? Y -> Arion ater
1b. Not so -> It is a different slug

Although to be fair mating Leopard slugs on my back garden shed was one of the more spectacular wildlife sights I've ever seen in the flesh.

Now I've started looking at slugs a bit more I find I'm growing quite fond of them though. Been browsing the excellent FSC guide and familiarising myself with what's about, what's likely to be in my locale and what sticks out like a sore thumb as ID features. This both draws ridicule from my more sensible wife (for what amounts to browsing animal/plant/fungus catalogues) and prepares me for decisions to be made in the field. On this occasion a pale pinkish slug with some dark pigmentation and a very pale breathing pore meant it was a new slug for me and one which had a chance of being identifiable

Deroceras invadens

My other half would still not be over the moon if she knew I was looking at live molluscs in the house, although there's every chance she knows and is turning a blind eye, bless her cotton socks.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017


rehashed to be in order of PSL classifications (more or less - some adjustment may still be required)

Category Jan 14-Feb
alga 8 9
Protist other 0 0
slime moulds 0 0
lichen 37 39
fungus 28 29
liverwort 4 4
moss 18 24
flowering plant 43 54
conifer 1 2
fern 3 3
cnidarian 2 2
mollusc 9 15
bryozoan 2 2
annelid 2 4
harvestman 1 1
pseudoscorpion 0 0
spider 3 4
millipede 2 2
centipede 2 2
crustacean 7 8
collembola 8 8
bristletails 0 0
odonata 0 0
dermaptera 1 1
hemiptera 2 2
coleoptera 6 8
diptera 4 5
lep-moth 1 1
lep-butterfly 0 0
hymenoptera 1 1
insect-other 1 1
tunicate 0 0
echinoderm 0 0
fish 1 1
reptile 0 0
amphibian 0 0
bird 38 48
mammal 1 2

236 282

Monday, 13 February 2017

New territory!

I have expanded the territory of my 1k square this morning. "Impossible!" you say, and you would be right. On the other hand for 1.5 months I have been assuming my square started at a certain point from my house and have now discovered that this was bullshit not so.

Just gained a whole new woodland and some nice ruderal plant corners. Better make the most of them!

Arion subfuscus agg. (and probably subfuscs s.s.)

A very pretty slug, and (fortunately for me) one that's hard to go wrong on, even with a quite profound blind spot for terrestrial molluscs. I am determined to overcome it though. They can't be that hard surely!

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Number of days since last site accident, since last tornado ...

... since my last misidentified terrestrial mollusc.

Another snail misidentified as Garlic Snail based on my understanding of how rapidly expanding whorls look. Still not sure I understood why my answer was wrong on that one, but it is what it is. I can see that the umbilicus was big though, which may have been enough of a clue.

Prior to that I think I almost made it to 5 in a row correctly identified. We live in hope.

Friday, 3 February 2017

The cockles of my heart

After a fairly productive lunch break picking up three moss species (two of which I had been already looking for and failed) it was a nice bonus to find a cockle on the beach without digging. Pulled from a small pool beneath a rock with the tide out I fully expected that the halves of an empty shell would be held together by only sand, but efforts to prise them apart yielded a satisfying resistance as the creature pulled the shell closed.

Any pre-holiday species now are only a bonus as the 250 has been passed

Sneaking up on the quarter mark

So I continue to creep towards 25%, which I want to do before I go on holiday at the weekend and it should be easily doable with only three species to go. A mixed bag yesterday with a bit of this and that - fly, spider, moss, plants. Finally getting my plant motor in gear, though feeling the rust since it's been a while since I saw anything new on the reserve.

Two more days and I'll leave all the lenses, pots, nets and books alone for a week. Well, I may take a book or two ...

Trichocera regelationis - infuscated cross-vein

Class Jan 03-Feb target %
Vert - Birds 38 39 110 35
Vert - Other 2 2 9 22
Lepidoptera 1 1 125 0
Diptera 4 5 125 4
Arachnida 4 5 61 8
Coleoptera 6 6 100 6
Invert - Other 39 39 127 30
Plants - Vascular 47 53 121 43
Plants - Bryo 22 24 46 52
Fungi 28 28 150 18
Lichens 37 37 65 56
Chromist 8 8 15 53

236 247 1054 23

Thursday, 2 February 2017

The best laid plans of bark lice and men gang aft aglay

Got a bit excited this week when I swept a psocid from vegetation and for a while allowed myself to believe it might be Ectopsocus meridionalis, which is suspected to be in Britain but not confirmed. In the end I suspect it is the more common E.petersi (edit - it was). It is still out for refereeing but I don't have the same high hopes I did last night when looking at it. The recording scheme website really has excellent photos on this species group.

Nevertheless it's one more on the list and joins a few scabby plants eked out from the edges of paths to add yesterday. I finally made it over 50 vasculars!

Ectopsocus somethingorotherii

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Comparative numbers - Cullaloe LNR

Found an old spreadsheet with cumulative number of species recorded in two years on my local nature reserve. Last year I focussed entirely on finding new species and didn't record anything previously recorded so I have no 2016 number, but it makes for an interesting comparison for this year's efforts. 2015 ended with 773 species recorded. That site isn't a square kilometre - in fact it's nothing like. However it does have a good range of habitats, some of which I would love to have in my current site. I need to find someone with a garden pond! What I do have, though, is the sea (ish), which I hope will more than compensate.

With DBY17 added: