Wednesday, 31 May 2017

End of May roundup

As usual it's actually one day early but what the hell. A 7-spot ladybird larva at lunchtime became the 49th beetle. Would be nice to round it off tonight but I am socially engaged and chances are I won't add anything this evening (unless my visitor can be persuaded to go moth hunting - a possibility).

All-in I this year have added 945 records to iRecord of 739 species. Obviously not all are from the square or my total would be transformed! However, here are the numbers as they stand right now. Possibly to be slightly updated tomorrow.

Going into June I am looking at some reduced time - I'll be grinding through pitfall trap contents for St.Andrews bioblitz (we do process them after the 24 hour period for an overall total) and then I'll be going on holiday. Still, June ought to be productive enough that I can more or less make good. I kind of expect to reach 1000 during August-September so it will include the start of the vismig calendar and include exotica like Tree Pipit and Long-tailed Skua (bird gods willing). On the other hand those months could be so profligate in their affections that 1k comes and goes before the skuas appear (but not the Tripits which pass in July). The the big decision - declare or bat on? Only time will tell.

The numbers by "gross" taxonomic grouping

Jan Feb Mar Apr May
Algae 8 13 16 17 17
Lichens 37 41 43 44 46
Fungi 28 31 44 49 53
Vert - Birds 38 50 56 62 64
Vert - Other 2 4 8 9 9
Lepidoptera 1 2 9 14 29
Diptera 4 7 12 41 68
Arachnida 4 13 20 25 32
Coleoptera 6 17 17 21 49
Mollusc 9 24 27 33 33
Collembola 8 10 12 12 12
Invert - Other 22 33 51 62 78
Plants - Vascular 47 63 74 92 107
Plants - Bryo 22 29 30 30 30

236 337 419 511 627

The numbers by, erm, numbers

31-Jan 28-Feb 31-Mar 30-Apr 31-May
days remaining 334 306 275 245 214
species so far 236 337 419 511 627
species/day period 7.61 3.61 2.65 3.07 3.74
spec/day so far 7.61 5.71 4.66 4.26 4.15
species remaining 764 663 581 489 373
spec/day rqd 2.29 2.17 2.11 2.00 1.74
spec/week rqd 16.01 15.17 14.79 13.97 12.20

Count compared with previous reserve year counts

Bullseye cranefly

About five minutes after I hit the woods yesterday lunchtime it started raining, which didn't do my sweeping activities any favours. I did manage to score a couple of craneflies though. The first, a big orange lout, was Tipula lunata, a more-or-less routine species but nice to have on my growing cranefly list. The second, as I peered into my net, was a thing the likes of which I had never seen before. Things the likes of which I've never seen before often turn out to be ubiquitous, so I was prepared for that. Back at work I googled "eye wing cranfely" or something and up came Epiphragma. Looked good. And it's on the Fife list of course ... oh, no - it isn't. Maybe it's something else then (but surely not...)

Back at home and it turns out it really was Epiphragma (ocellare - the only one), so not only a cracking fly, but a new county record.I checked the distribution of it on NBN this morning. Very weird! A ubiquitous fly in England and Wales and one record per county in Scotland. Clearly recorder distribution at play but a severe case!

A link to some nicer pictures as it was in the field: link

That distribution:

Only two additions:
625 Tipula lunata A Cranefly
626 Epiphragma ocellare A Cranefly

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Dock larvae number 1 pupates

Oh, it's so exciting ... I picked up some more mature larvae in a dock leaf but if it turns out to be the species I expect it will be new for Fife. The leaf in the first two are a new leaf gathered at the weekend just in case. The pupa was gathered in a similar state about a week ago (2 weeks?). fingers crossed.

Hard to pick a highlight over a weekend which was not huge on numbers but had a nice run of quality. A lot of weevils went under the lens! Probably most pleased with my second sarcophagid in two days - Sarcophaga subvicina.

Weevil roll call: Ceutorhynchus obstrictus, Otiorhynchus arcticus, Pachyrhynus lethierryi and Otiorhynchus singularis (edit: and Phyllobius virideaeris!). Also a couple of new Soldier Beetles beaten from gorse: Cantharis cryptica and nigricans.

Probably the biggest relief was finally getting to grips with the tachinid Ramonda spathulata, which somehow I kept slipping through the keys on before. Worst of it is I already recorded it here in September!

Ramonda spathulata

Ceutorhynchus obstrictus - crucifer lover

Otiorhynchus singularis

612 Sarcophaga subvicina A Flesh Fly
613 Ceutorhynchus obstrictus A weevil
614 Otiorhynchus arcticus A Broad-nosed Weevil
615 Cantharis nigricans A Soldier Beetle
616 Cantharis cryptica A Soldier Beetle
617 Silene latifolia White Campion
618 Eupterix urticae A bug on nettles
619 Pachyrhynus lethierryi A Broad-nosed Weevil
620 Phyllobius virideaeris A Broad-nosed Weevil
621 Pollenia rudis A Blowfly
622 Ornithogalum angustifolium Star-of-Bethlehem
623 Otiorhynchus singularis A Broad-nosed Weevil
624 Ramonda spathulata A tachinid fly

Friday, 26 May 2017


Not often I get to enjoy a tachinid before I've pulled it out of a pot, but today I revisited the small woodland where I added Panzeria rudis. I had thought that I was chasing the same fly until I finally caught it. Today I discovered that I had caught one of only many as they surrounded the sunny, ferny glade making fly-catchery swoops from the top of foliage. They were so reliable and not shy that I even managed a mobile phone shot!

I have a fair collection of things frmo today that I may get to work through tonight, but this will be enough to be going on with...
607 Denticollis linearis A Click Beetle
608 Tipula vernalis A cranefly
609 Peltigera membranacea A lichen
610 Vicia sepium Bush Vetch
611 Sarcophaga carnaria A Flesh Fly

Sarcophaga unblocked

So I found a female Sarcophaga the other day and I don't have enough literature for that, but yesterday a male was captured, and sadly had to be dismembered as it had dried to a bone in the hot car. On a happier note it came out S.carnaria as expected with the help of the amazing Sarcophagid pictures online (see link below)

And here's the link. Sarcophagid books are pretty expensive! Here's the fantastic S.carnaria page:

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Hedya headyache

Two species of Hedya almost identical both on blackthorn!

Either speciate properly or let me catch you!


Much ado about mothing

Yesterday's Steeple Clump tour also produced a nice big tachinid - Panzeria rudis (taking me up to 16/29 of the county tachinid fauna).

Last night a brief stroll with headtorch produced some of the usual suspects and a couple of additions


Clouded-bordered Brindle

Clouded-bordered Brindle

604 Panzeria rudis A tachinid fly
605 Apamea crenata Clouded-bordered Brindle
606 Opisthograptis luteolata Brimstone Moth

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