Friday, 31 March 2017

Myrmica lobicornis

I'm pretty sure this ant is the above species. It's noted as being a coastal species in the county and I found it on the coast. I found it difficult to get good photos online from my phone last night but I'll have another run at it today. This area on the bend of the scape narrows it down to only a narrow field of possibilities though, so I'll keep digging.

Edit: further digging reveals that the species is noted as coastal in Fife and that workers often slowly forage alone on the ground. It's a heath species. This was taken alone on coastal heath foraging slowly on the ground so that's all good. Pictures found of the various species ivolved also served to make me feel happier that the determination is alright, so I'll record it until told otherwise.

Thoracochaeta zosterae, lesser dung fly on seaweed

I've already recorded this species but I like these photos so I wanted to put them up. After labouring over the Sphaeroceridae keys for a while you will finally come to the point where you see the thoracic spines which curve inwards and I think are a unique feature. It's a super-abundant species over strandline seaweed and one sweep over the weed will capture 100s.

The mouth parts I have no words for. They're just outrageous.

Thursday, 30 March 2017


Dealing with potted specimens from a headtorch moth walk added an equal amount of non-moth species to the list - mostly arachnid, but also the first lacewing of the year.

Harpactea hombergi was a nice find hunting woodlice on a tree trunk, and even nicer it was an adult male (amazingly all potted specimens were identifiable!)

Harpactea hombergi
Also adult male was this nice and huge Amaurobius ferox, which was so big I thought it was a Tegeneria to begin with

Sticking with arachnids there was Xygiella x-notata (ad. f. - several) and a couple of Harvestmen - Mitopus morio and Platybunus triangularis

To round off the evening a lacewing dropped into a mammoth vein-examining process produced Wesmaelius nervosus. This was a most bizarre catch, as while examining an ivy covered tree it actually fell into the net. Some things just want to be counted!

Total session results:

407 Amaurobius ferox A spider
408 Platybunus triangularis A harvestman
409 Mitopus morio A harvestman
410 Harpactea hombergi A spider
411 Zygiella x-notata A spider
412 Limonia nubeculosa A cranefly
413 Wesmaelius nervosus A brown lacewing

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

400 breakthrough

Broke through the 400 barrier with a nocturnal headtorch rampage with my son. 7 species of moth caught and a few other things besides (not yet determined/added to the list). This probably marks the beginning of the serious invert bothering and I'm looking to April to reach the half way mark. At this rate it'll be a dawdle (!)

Diurnea fagella

Water Carpet

Water Carpet

Agonopterix heracliana

Double-striped Pug

Monday, 27 March 2017

Green Shore Crab ... Green Shore Crab ... Green Shore Crab ... Green Shore Crab ...

Green Shore Crab ... Green Shore Crab ... Green Shore  ... wait! Not Green Shore Crab!

Edible Shore Crab. An amuse-bouche in this case

 A beautiful morning on Saturday and another combo of crab & fish amongst a handful of additions


Busy times yesterday meant no additions, not even to stock

390 Lipophrys pholis Shanny
391 Cancer pagurus Edible crab
392 Veronica filiformis Slender Speedwell
393 Idotea granulosa A marine isopod
394 Lanice conchilega Sand Mason

Chiffchaffs all over the shop this morning so hopefully pick one up on the patch at lunchtime.

Friday, 24 March 2017


Where's my Chiffchaff? Where's my Sandwich Tern? Come onnnnnnnnnnnnnn

Class Jan Feb Mar
Verts 40 54 63
Inverts 54 106 125
Plants 69 92 100
Fungi 66 72 85
Algae 8 13 16
Sum 237 337 389

Breakdown of species recording so far by rough class

Panic at the Disco

Picked up a couple of pine cones and some litter from a small woodland surrounding the Chapel of the Earls of Moray (there are seven of 'em - just buried there in the middle of the what is now a housing development). So intent was I on finding hyphomycetes and other minutiae that it felt like walking into a lamppost when I turned a cone under the lens to find it covered in discos. Barely visible with the naked eye as they're pretty small but under magnifcation they take up a lot of real estate.

I battered at them a bit with Ellis and Ellis "Microfungi" (this "Ellis and Ellis" being the one most people refer to despite the existence of several "Ellis and Ellis" books) but missed the fact that they are plurivorous wood munchers rather than a pine/larch/conifer specialist. Turning to "Ascos in Colour" (Thomson) while knowing that it was a Mollisia s.l. allowed me to key it out to Niptera ramincola and thus find it retrospectively in Ellis and Ellis. Phew - what an emotional rollercoaster!

Thomson does actually mention pine cones as a substrate though E&E doesn't, oddly.

This morning a brief tour produced nothing (except a sense of well-being in the morning sunshine but I can't count THAT)

I did find what I always find - one of the most abundant species on the beach in the bay. Ballus golfiensis


Thursday, 23 March 2017

Life is much better down where it's wetter, take it from me ...

I was determined not to let this pretty polysiphonous thing beat me so it was out with the razorblades. A quickie browse of the seaweed book suggested this might be P.fucoides, so when I keyed it out in a grown up key to P.nigrescens I was discombobulated briefly. When I realised they were the same thing all was well.

This is the second species this week that has had different names when keyed out! (Helina evecta
does not key out as Helina evecta, because it used to be called something else. Can't beat the stability of scientific names ...)

Anyway, Polysiphonia fucoides, ladies and gentlemen


Tuesday, 21 March 2017

British Summertime

It is, naturally, snowing today in Southeast Scotland. Yesterday on a rather blustery day there was a decent amount of sun though. Having seen one Episyrphus out and about i optimistically trundled down the coastal woodland with a net, thinking that two species of calyptrate would be a good haul. In the end I came out with three, but one of them was an anthomyiid, a family from which I can comfortably cope with one species (and it likes Salix so I may be out of luck).

Calliphora vicina was a nice easy one which I probably should have done in the pot and then released, and the other I'm moderately sure is Helina evecta, though I'll cross check it.

Calliphora vicina with its brown breathy-hole

Helina evecta - putative (but those infuscated x-veins...)


Along with many other apparent coincidences I picked up a whelk egg case from the shore at the weekend. The number of species which are recorded in close proximity to the time they're recorded in Uig (cf. links, Skye's The Limit) maybe does give some phenology information on a range of species, whether it's a mollusc or a Nemertean.

Monday, 20 March 2017

More pond dipping

Spent a bit of time over the last few days getting down below the tideline. First found a nice alga which is Compsothamnion thuyoides s.l. (Alternate Bush Weed) and I take to be C.gracilis but only from internet browsing - not very satisfactory. Hopefully it will be sorted out on iRecord as records are reviewed there periodically. This is a nice one whichever part of the s.l. it turns out to be, with most records on the west coast and very few on the east coast. Lovely pictures will be inserted here once I've got them downloaded.

Yesterday afternoon my lovely missus remarked that the weather was nice and would I like to go for a tour rather than sit with my in-laws. Now I like my in-laws but naturally I was off like a shot as it was low tide. That turned up these little beauties:

Hermit Crab

Sea Scorpion

Note the white barb at the mouth edge

An evening attempt at luring moths with sugar produced nothing, sadly. The following additions were made, plus a lot of stuff in pots awaiting attention.

366 Anomia ephippium Saddle Oyster
367 Coleosporium tussilaginis Groundsel Rust
368 Cardamine flexuosa Wavy Bitter-cress
369 Compsothamnion gracillimum A seaweed
370 Anthus pratensis Meadow Pipit
371 Streptopelia decaocto Collared Dove
372 Mucilago crustacea A slime mould
373 Lumbricus terrestris Common Earthworm
374 Sphaeropsis sapinea A fungus
375 Milesina kriegeriana A rust on Dryoptera
376 Taurulus bubalis Sea Scorpion
377 Episyrphus balteatus Marmalade Hoverfly

Friday, 17 March 2017

Kicking off

After yesterday's morning post things certainly moved along a bit. A few species added at lunchtime including a lovely Palmate Newt thanks to Dick and his garden pond, a lichen I had forgotten I saw in the morning and a crustacean from the 2nd March saw the total make a small leap forward. The crustacean, Gammarus locusta, was taken from a rock pool where pairs were swimming about, the male spooning the female protectively. This is so remarkable that the Collins seashore guide prints two separate images of the same thing, which I always find a bit odd - helpful though. Keying out in Fish & Fish as a cross-check was thankfully straightforward.

Stinking Hellebore

Lesser Celandine

Palmate Newt

Some numbers:

Class Jan Feb 17-Mar
Algae 8 13 13
Lichens 37 41 42
Fungi 28 31 37
Vert - Birds 38 50 54
Vert - Other 2 4 6
Lepidoptera 1 2 2
Diptera 4 7 7
Arachnida 4 13 14
Coleoptera 6 17 17
Mollusc 9 24 25
Collembola 8 10 11
Invert - Other 22 33 40
Plants - Vascular 47 63 67
Plants - Bryo 22 29 30

236 337 365

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Trickling along

Nothing much is happening at the moment with limited microscope time (house guests) and other responsibilities and play opportunities. Spent a nice day at NMS yesterday discussing digitisation processes and keying out a sarcophaguid in expensive literature. It was from the square but from last year.

Found some Holly Speckle this morning - only one of three common holly leaf fungi, but there were precious few ivy leaves on the ground confusingly. All blown away maybe, but the spot is sheltered. I pocketed one for later close perusal. Maybe there's another on there.

Anyway - here's the numbers bit:

Class Jan Feb 16-Mar target %
Algae 8 13 13 15 87
Lichens 37 41 41 45 91
Fungi 28 31 37 45 82
Vert - Birds 38 50 54 55 98
Vert - Other 2 4 5 6 83
Lepidoptera 1 2 2 7 29
Diptera 4 7 7 15 47
Arachnida 4 13 14 18 78
Coleoptera 6 17 17 20 85
Mollusc 9 24 25 27 93
Collembola 8 10 11 13 85
Invert - Other 22 33 39 42 93
Plants - Vascular 47 63 64 70 91
Plants - Bryo 22 29 29 30 97

236 337 358 408 82

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

See Spots run. Run Spots, run.

Dromius quadrimaculatus where I always see it - on a tree trunk at night. Went out head torch last night in hope of random moth netting but caught nowt and saw mostly already-recorded species. I did pull a middle instar Pentatoma rufipes out of some ivy and potted a moth fly and a spider which will inevitably be immature. Who knows what might come of that. The moth fly key is still in print and therefore a pain (=takes more than 10 seconds) to obtain but I may do it anyway.

I became county moth recorder this week. There may be a slight pause as I contemplate the gravity of this decision!

Friday, 10 March 2017

Tales of the unexpected

Went looking for microfungi today but never quite got around to it. I did pocket some ivy leaves for later bothering but then the strandline called and a Mallard popped up to see why it wasn't on the list.

A few inverts potted later, including my second ever flatworm (as yet unidentified) and I decided to lift a couple of rocks over pools, although the tide was still pretty high. I wasn't expecting this...

It was pretty happy in there. I guess this pool is pretty much just in the spray zone and isn't too salty.

Two headed spider

Diplocephalus latifrons is a fairly common spider and this one came from leaf litter. It's one of those Linyphiids which has a weird and wonderful carapace shape (at least in the male - don't recall the female at the moment).

The trichobothria on TmI is in a different range from its congeners. Taking photos of Linyphiids is tricky with my microscope/lighting setup but you can just about see diagnistic features here, with the palp having those two little protuberances.

I added my first species from the small pine wood around the chapel of the Earls of Moray yesterday - Hyaloscypha leuconica is a tiny discomycete on pine cones and pretty unspectacular in every respect. I've also seen it on Larch cones before.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

My first flatworm - awesome ...

It has probably eaten all the other flatworms

Ivy League

After attending a microfungi conference over the weekend I thought I ought to do some in my square. An ivy leaf produced a nice couple of species, probably with more to come.

Colletotrichum trichellum

Trochila craterium

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Of slugs and slaters

Beautiful weather on the Forth yesterday afternoon for a poke around the woods. Tide was well in so no hope of any littoral shenanigans.

I managed to pull one back on the mollusc count with Tandonia budapestensis sowerbyi and found a nice coastal crustacean in the form of Cylisticus convexus,/s> (no ... Porcellio scaber - bad run of identification here!). I also managed to photograph an Opegrapha on the rocks which I subsequently forgot to take for checking. It'll still be there over the next ten months though so no rush.

Hard to imagine today when people are so squeamish with slugs and slaters that they have both been used as folk remedies for gastric issues (slaters as antacid tablets). I don't mind handling them but I can't say I'm in any hurry to put either of them in my mouth! Actually I think this slug in particular has some kind of anti-carabid poison so especially not the slug.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Three steps forward ...

... two steps back.

Gained three species today and lost two as two snail records fell under closer scrutiny. Not a huge surprise given my mollusc experience level but a hard one nonetheless. (P.pymaeum wasn't and I mistook an immature Cepaea for a glass snail if you absolutely must know)

I shall claw them back though - oh yes I will!

Anyway, here's a springtail instead - Protaphorura armata - verified!

in alcohol - white as in the field

compound scope, habitus, anal spine, claw&empodium

PAO (long, central) and one pseudo-ocellus (up & left)

And at that I threw away my chance to kick off with the title "Anal spines!" Oh well...