Monday, 31 July 2017


Amazingly my first Cyperaceae record came from walking the upper edge of the rocky shore looking specifically for niche plants and terminating at the bottom of a garden through which runs/seeps a pitiful stream. It does, however, provide a soggy bottom of sorts. The Carex otrubae (I reckon ... to be confirmed) was hanging on at the edge of shore and stream being heavily wrapped up by bindweed. Apart from the Water-cress that lives there I'm also going to have to dig around the bryophytes as this is a habitat scarce in the square.

I also picked up another couple of goodies which hopefully will be denizens of specific microhabitat and continue this period of the manic botanic. Another Elymus, which I am hoping will prove to be some sort of shore-loving Couch, and members of the Brassicaceae (Danish Scurvy-grass of course) and Boraginaceae (ehhhh, it was Bugloss) which ought to prove new to the list if not to me ... if I can identify them

Danish Scurvy-grass

Reviewing my expected outcomes from February this morning it seems that while many taxon groups are going to come up dead on or just shy of their targets the vascular plants have way over-exceeded my initial targets.

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'm surely married to 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 Fragaria vesca Wild Strawberry
811 Armillaria mellea Honey Fungus
812 Cyanea lamarckii Blue Jellyfish
813 Cyanea capillata Lion's Mane Jellyfish
814 Elymus repens Couch Grass

Friday, 28 July 2017

Patch gold! (and 800)

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!

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

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Q: What's round,white and giggles?

A. A tickled Onion

Or in this case a tickled leek.

Looking through the BSBI recording sheet for VC85 I noticed that while Sand Leek was included Wild Onion wasn't. Both are present and in similar habitats, but the upshot is that I figured out my Wild onion Allium vineale was in fact the Sand Leek Allium scorodoprasum. As a host for a fungus also on the list this was doubly useful information.

While I was in a botanical frame of mind I also bit the bullet and removed my dodgy White Campion that I had suspicions about all along. 

I have spent the last couple of days taking the hit for trying to learn about grasses. There are anotehr one or two I have my eye on that I think I can refind and add, but certainly I'm better prepared than ever to have a go. The downside of this is that I'm more or less sure I have discarded a perfectly good Hybrid couch specimen which I had written off (stupidly) as probably Perennial Rye-grass. There's a lesson there I think. Sometimes a specimen which is given up on is down to the mood I'm in at the time and in another mood could easily come up trumps.

I also discovered that the Colletotrichum on Agrostis will be graminicola.

This new botanical phase I hope will lead to more discoveries. An overlooked area that I hadn't visited for a while produced a mass of Meadow Vetchling. It's a great time for Fabaceae with Restharrow, Hairy Tare, Hare'sfoot Clover and a few others all flowering around the place.

Meadow Vetchling being double-checked

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Leaves of Grass

While attempting (re-attempting) to "get into" grasses I picked up a couple of fungi, one if which is already on the list and another which is immediately recognisable to genus but with a tricker job on species. Starting with the easy one the also-immediately-recognisable Pleospora herbarum on Sheep's fescue. To be clear it isn't immediately recognisabe in macro because it looks vaguely similar to the other 10,000 of its kind (where 10k is a non-random real world number globally!). The spores are though - they're good value. This is a truly pluriverous fungus of herbaceous material and I've found it on (in) both thrift stems and gorse seed pods.

The second one, which appears to be on a dead bit of Agrostis sp., is a Colletotrichum. It's a coelomycete - an asexual fungal stage where the spores are produced out of an acervulus - a sort of basal pad. You will see these on a lot of dead plant material. Trouble is that while they are instantly recognisable as a genus they all look more or less the same AND there are species which are host specific along with pluriverous species. Apparently. Who am I to say otherwise? Anyway, they're also good value, with nice spiky habit and banana shaped spores. In this case they're quite small and have extensions, so I haven't entirely given up nailing the ID. Yet.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

No fly zone

Went yesterday lunchtime to look for flies on a sunny day and came back with a moth and a plant. No dipteran additions! Last night a brief headtorch foray produced only two additions (so far - could go up), maybe because of a clear sky and a breeze. I found quite a few repeats so it wasn't as bad as suggested by the relatively low additions. Normally I would count a decent night walk as five new species, so slightly underwhelming. Should take me onto the 80 mark for moths though, and a couple of baby steps closer to the 800 mark.

Silver Y swept from coastal plants


Purple Bar


Earwig nectaring (?)

Monday, 24 July 2017

Sedum solved

Finally got around to checking out my third Sedum on the rocky Downing Point. It turned out to be Sedum anglicum, with clasping leaf bases - a very odd looking thing for a succulent. This will extend its known range for the new atlas by ... about 5 miles!

Also last night when I went out to pick up a grass specimen I luckily took my bincoulars so lucked into two Artcic Skuas harassing the local ternage. About freaking time too.

787 Sedum anglicum English Stonecrop
788 Festuca ovina Sheep's Fescue
789 Alopecurus geniculatus Marsh foxtail
790 Stercorarius parasiticus Arctic Skua

Friday, 21 July 2017

Bee, line

A mixed day of this and that yesterday with more effort on autumn moving birds not being rewarded much. Hopefully a renewed effort on grasses will reap some rewards, at least in an improved understanding of them.

If you had asked me in January at what point Roe Deer would appear on the list I would never have guessed species #782! Still, it's only July I suppose and I may have been more surprised to be at this advanced number. Comparison of number with previous numbers from Cullaloe is interesting. I seem to be at a steady state of what I can identify. The numbers are so constant as to look artificial but despite variations day by day and week by week the overall rate is remarkably constant.

A nice bee yesterday is one of the county's only two Colletes - C.succinctus

782 Capreolus capreolus Roe Deer
783 Colletes succinctus Heather Colletes
784 Hypochaeris radicata Cat's ear

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Agaricus macrosporus

AKA A.urinascens

... not only a nice addition to the list but to my omelette this morning

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Guerilla mothing

More guerilla mothing on a one hour romp along the coastal path last night brought another handful of additions. Rather than just note the additions, here's a total list to show what size of list a typical hour will turn up. 

White-shouldered House Moth Endrosis sarcitrella
A micro Blastobasis adustella
Beautiful Plume Amblyptilia acanthadactyla
Bee Moth Aphomia sociella
A micro Udea lutealis *
Mother of Pearl Pleuroptya ruralis *
A micro Scoparia ambigualis
Small Fan-footed Wave Idaea biselata
Yellow Shell Camptogramma bilineata
Twin-spot Carpet Mesotype didymata
Rivulet Perizoma affinitata
Sandy Carpet Perizoma flavofasciata
Brimstone Moth Opisthograptis luteolata
Swallow-tailed Moth Ourapteryx sambucaria
Mottled Beauty Alcis repandata
Snout Hypena proboscidalis
Dark Arches Apamea monoglypha *
Light Arches Apamea lithoxylaea *
Smoky Wainscot Mythimna impura
Clay Mythimna ferrago *
Large Yellow Underwing Noctua pronuba

The beautiful Mother of Pearl


Love is in the air

Light Arches

Brown Chafer

Another nice find yesterday was the conopid fly Sicus ferrugineus, which I forgot to photogrqaph, though I will. The 100th fly species of the list and sneaking in before last night turned up Culex pipiens.

770 Holcus lanatus Yorkshire-fog
771 Sicus ferrugineus  A conopid fly
772 Udea lutealis A pyralid moth
773 Pleuroptya ruralis Mother of Pearl
774 Apamea monoglypha Dark Arches
775 Apamea lithoxylaea Light Arches
776 Mythimna ferrago Clay
777 Culex pipiens A mosquito

Monday, 17 July 2017

Hairy Tare plus

A quickie update featuring Hairy Tare from downing Point, a new plant for me. Others are a random selection across taxa, though it's nice to nail my 9th tachinid and promising to sneak into double figures for the year.

761 Eristalis arbustorum A hoverfly
762 Vicia hirsuta Hairy Tare
763 Agrostis stolonifera Creeping Bent
764 Chlorophyllum rachodes Shaggy parasol
765 Maniola jurtina Meadow Brown
766 Hemicrepidius hirtus A Click Beetle
767 Chrysopilus cristatus Black Snipe Fly
768 Dexiosoma caninum  A tachinid fly

Friday, 14 July 2017

Much ado about mothing

But first some nice flies. The second of the county's three Rhinophoridae species, and the only other one I've seen, was swept from grass yesterday lunchtime - Paykullia maculata. This was accompanied by the lovely tachinid Eriothrix rufomaculata, a new and long-anticipated addition to my tachinid list.

Ariothrix rufomaculata

A late evening rain cleared in time for me to head out at dusk (and then it rained a bit more but not too bad).

A few moth additions were made, along with a whole bunch of non-new species. I also stumbled into the discovery that I had probably misidentifed Smoky Wainscot previously - an error which I'll correct inline 1984 style. That will leave the impression that I never screwed it up in the first place, unless someone discovers this confession ...

Also netted on a flypast was a Brown Chafer, whose distribution displays the usual characters for a scarcely recorded species - an east coast distribution on NBN and in Brock and a Nature of fife inventory which says the species is abundant coastally. Seems to be as I also had one in my garden last week.


750 Paykullia maculata Picture-winged Woodlouse-fly
751 Eriothrix rufomaculata A tachinid fly
752 Serica brunnea Brown Chafer
753 Xestia triangulum Double Square-spot
754 Herminia tarsipennalis The Fan-foot
755 Scoparia subfusca A micromoth
756 Mesoligia furuncula Cloaked Minor

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Set Phasias to stun

Flies definitely stole the limelight yesterday with my first female Phasia hemiptera - what a corker! The male I found a couple of years back and that was a good day too. Both of them were on hogweed.

A few minutes later, above a rotten log on a mayweed flower, where these things like to hand about, was the louse fly Rhinophora lepida. The only other louse fly I've seen was also above a rotten log on the shore edge - plenty of victims to be had! On NBN this species is southern only, but the draft key intriguingly says distribution is "north to Fife".

A bonus from yesterday was a grass, pre-identified by the local woodland group, which I just had to go and see. I need to hook up with whoever ID'd it so they can show me the 20 others I don't have yet.

Phasia hemiptera female


Rhinophora lepida

743 Rinodina sophodes A lichen
744 Phasia hemiptera A tachinid fly
745 Rhinophora lepida A louse fly
746 Campanula rotundifolia Harebell
747 Phleum bertolonii Smaller Cat's-tail

Monday, 10 July 2017

Lichenological interlude

I've ignored lichens since spring and didn't erally intend to go back to them until q4. However I may be over the 1000 by then so I wanted to see if I could add one or two here and there. This rather fetching Riniodina sophodes was crying out to be sampled on the trunk of a tree on a path between the houses, so I sampled it.

Sawtooth saga

So I gave up two hours of my morning in an attempt to catch some early birdy migrants in action.

Wanted list: Sand Martin, Swift, Cuckoo, Hobby, Manx Shear,Tree Pipit, LT Skua.
Achieved: Sand Martin! (ok - also Grey Wag)

I've had all the wanted list here and through Jul/Aug I hope to see some of them, though all of them would be a stretch. Arctic/Pom/Great Skua ought to be a given as Tree Pipit, but the others are hit and miss at best. You have to be there at the right time.

I did come across the cordon of Goosander again though and with a scope this time, though they came very close. They were undoubtedly Goosander. Not sure what trick of the light or brain-fadery happened lat week. I half think I saw some RB Merganser after the Goosander which threw me. Everything about the head is different - crest, bill shape, white gape mark, neck "cut" - so it's not like it's an easy mistake to make with reasonable views. Anyway, I took a picture. They hung around and probably will for a while. The males all head off somewhere else, though I don't recall where.

A bit of sweeping turned up another dolly in the form of Sciapus platypterus

Friday's Sphegina turned out to be sibirica - the determination of this may change after verification on iRecord, as I have already handed over my previous voucher of sibirica to NMS so I can't compare. I think it's right though.

A Gorse Shieldbug also finally came out of the gorse with some "gentle" persuasion.

So all in all a mixed weekend. I may have recorded more no the sunny Saturday before the rain came down on Sunday but this happened instead:

Mojito, Tom Collins

736 Sphegina sibirica A hoverfly
737 Sciapus platypterus A long-legged Fly
738 Piezodorus lituratus Gorse Shieldbug
739 Riparia riparia Sand Martin
740 Mergus merganser Goosander
741 Lophiostoma angustilabrum A fungus
742 Clepsis consimilana  A tortricid moth