Thursday, 31 August 2017

Moff magic

So last night I decided that I would blow the dust off the moth trap and stick it in the woods. I drove round to the woods and duly set up everything except the cable that connects the battery, which I had apparently left at home. Doh!

Leaving the trap set up and trusting that any passerby in the dark would not bother the trap I rushed back home (2 mins) to grab the cable. Rummaging around in the garage I couldn't find the damn thing so I did what anybody would do in the circumstances - I grabbed the generator re-borrowed recently for a bioblitz and the mains MV trap top end and bolted back to the woods.

Naturally the first thing I found on my return was the missing cable that I had put inside the moth trap. It only helps to be clever when you can do it at both ends! Anyway, the long and short of it is that I ended up running an actinic in the woods for 1.5 hours and an MV with no bottom end on the coast, where the generator noise would be less likely to bother anybody. If I'd done this through the year I'd be "finished" by now! I'll do it again after a suitable break now that I know it's possible to use the generator without the police showing up. There should still be a few moth species left in the tanks.

 I did hope I would get an Aphodius rufipes, which is a frequent light trap visitor in the garden, but I have no complaints. No boost to my horrible beetle tally though. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was wandering along the path looking at something in a pot and getting tripped up by a hedgehog. Sorry, buddy!

I should also credit here one of my neighbours, Blair, who caught the Tipula while we were chatting next to the MV and successfully transferred it from hand to pot. It won't be the last T.paludosa, but it was the first!

Hedgehog football

Copper underwing

Riband Wave

Parsnip Moth

909 Idaea aversata Riband Wave
910 Amphipyra pyramidea Copper underwing
911 Tipula paludosa A cranefly
912 Luperina testacea Flounced Rustic
913 Depressaria radiella Parsnip Moth

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Pipunculid at last!

It would have been a shame to see out the year without finding at least one penis-headed fly, and so I was a happy camper yesterday to find this nice Tomosvaryella on the edge of the woodland near the shore. I am pretty sure it is T.littoralis but I need a better look at the tergite hairs now I've read the RES key (the only other two species recorded in Scotland all have dark femorae anyway).

Pipunculidae have a lot going for them in terms of value. First, lets get it out of the way,  they look like little peni. It's childish but it's true. Second they are unbelievable fliers. Pipunculidae when netted will happily (?) hover in a space inside the net no problem - absolutely fixed on one point in space. They share with Syrphidae a vena spuria and maybe this is an adaptation for hovering. Thirdly, they are endoparasites, and everyone loves a good endoparasite, don't they? Their chosen host group is homoptera and they have been used for pest control for this reason. You can see from the pic below that this girl has a very nasty surprise for some poor bug!

Pipunculidae - the big headed flies



Another mushroom made its way onto the list too, meaning I've made my target of 90 spp. by end of August. 910 by end of the month and I'll be happy enough with that.

907 Inocybe fraudans A mushroom
908 Tomosvaryella littoralis A pipunculid fly

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Harvest Thanksgiving

'Tis that time of the year. Autumn. Fungi are sprouting and autumnal moths are appearing. I'll need to get quicker at doing the fungi though or else it will be October before I reach 1000. All being well, though, I am still hoping for a September date for completion.

One thing I've just noticed, albeit late in the day, is that there is a small network of streets which I had been dismissing as out of scope but which are definitely IN scope. That was silly. At least I managed to add a nice toadstool from it before end of play.

Hygrocybe pratensis


901 Calvia quattuordecimguttata Cream-spot Ladybird
902 Andricus quercuscalicis Knopper Gall causer
903 Tilia platyphyllos Large-leaved Lime
904 Clitopilus prunulus The Miller
905 Hygrocybe pratensis Meadow Waxcap
906 Russula exalbicans Bleached Brittlegill

Friday, 25 August 2017

Cracking Bolete, Grommit!

I had seen boletes in a bad state of repair on the way to my son's school before but finally got hold of one in good enough shape to identify (no doubt correction will follow now!)as the Red Cracking Bolete, Xerocomellus chrysenteron

So this lovely fungus will become the official 900th species, no matter what happens to the list after I put it through a heavily critical review.

Workers unite!

Unlike the last two century thresholds this one hasn't suffered from an approaching crawl. A nice diversion, the kind that you need to keep momentum up, has been provided with the arrival of new literature and some wasps. Variety isn't only the spice of life but the spice of the 1k challenge! This book was recommended to me on the BWARS facebook page and I'm happy to pass on the recommendation. I long feared that wasps were a group for another time, but it seems there's a small bite you can take out of them without things getting too deep.

I also continue to reach for Steven Falk's new Bee book, though I still can't say I'm entirely enamoured with them as a group. Much more so than I was a year ago though. My hymenopteran list is already three times what I predicted at the start of the challenge.

Honeybee - where from I wonder?


Crossocerus annulipes

Crossocerus annulipes

All that leaves me just shy of 900 with the possibility/likelihood that I'll pass it this lunchtime/afternoon. After 8 months and 24 days I finally saw my first Rook this morning. I long believed that Rooks may be moving south in autumn (should check the migration atlas I suppose!). It was hard to be sure as sometimes I saw more north-easterly movements in the evening. However one south over the river today was genuinely the first one I've seen in the square despite there being a nearby rookery. I'll be keeping an eye on them.

Another positive from this week has been an increase in hoverfly diversity. I didn't see many Syritta pipiens last year after their being everywhere the year before. Nice to add one to the list for this patch. Look at that spiny femora!

Latest additions:
891 Stercorarius skua Great Skua
892 Gavia stellata Red-throated Diver
893 Syritta pipiens A hoverfly
894 Anthomyia pluvialis An anthomyid fly
895 Eristalis nemorum A hoverfly
896 Alchemilla mollis Garden Lady's-mantle
897 Apis mellifera Honey Bee
898 Crossocerus annulipes A digger wasp
899 Corvus frugilegus Rook

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Moths, I take it back

No sooner had I insulted the moths for not showing up the other night than a Grey Chi popped up during lunchtime to let me know it's not time to give up on them yet.

My first, and maybe only, Cheilosia of the year was netted from some "wildflowers" that have been sown by the local woodland group. I've missed hoverflies a lot this year and my records are going to be way down but I'll be back on their case next year and a change of scene has allowed for bumping into new species at least.

A lovely morning this morning with the majestic sight of my first autumn Bonxie overhead and then my first RT Divers coming up river. They're some three weeks before peak so I'm looking forward to some more. A kingfisher is now "resident" around Downing Point, which is always good to fill a dull moment

Revised additions based on removal of 2 duplicates after review (Eristalis pertinax and E.arbustorum)

889 Antitype chi Grey Chi
890 Cheilosia bergenstammi A hoverfly
891 Stercorarius skua Great Skua
892 Gavia stellata Red-throated Diver
893 Syritta pipiens A hoverfly
894 Anthomyia pluvialis An anthomyid fly
895 Eristalis nemorum A hoverfly

Wednesday, 23 August 2017


A sudden and unexpected boost has come by way of a hymenopteran storm. This is especially welcome given that what appeared to be a perfect evening produced not one single new moth species last night. Ya boo sucks to you moths! I can't see why there so few moths on the wing unless they knew it was about to rain hard, but I'm going to need something to plug the gap in the expected tally. I may have to get those pitfalls out and running quicksmart. Maybe it will even help my pitiful beetle and spider tallies.

Biorhiza pallida

Bombus campestris

Ectemnius cavifrons - a boy

886 Erysiphe alphitoides Oak mildew
887 Biorhiza pallida Oak-apple Causer
888 Bombus campestris Field Cuckoo Bee
889 Tenthredo arcuata A sawfly

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Soldiering on

A weekend heavily dominated by a wonderful 3 hour session patrolling mayweed on the shore. Every slow trek along the stretch turned up something new, including two fantastic flies. The first, which I thought was a Gonia, I now realise isn't and I'll have to look at it properly. What a bizarre mistake to make.

Anyway ... the second , which is new for the county at least, and possibly new to Scotland, is the soldierfly Chorisops nagatomii. Both species of the genus are southerly in distribution but nagatomii is a late summer species and in all references consulted so far has no Scottish records. Once I establish the species ID is good I'll cross check to see if someone else has pipped me to the post.

yellow humeri and posterior calli are key to the, erm, key

869 Tipula fulvipennis A cranefly
870 Hebeloma crustuliniforme A fungus
871 Diarsia dahlii Barred Chestnut
872 Chorisops nagatomii A Soldier Fly
873 Sericomyia silentis A hoverfly
874 Vanessa atalanta Red admiral
875 Erisyphe cichoracearum A fungus
876 Pipiza noctiluca A hoverfly
877 Pteridium aquilinum Bracken
878 Rhagoletis alternata A tephritid fly
879 Coniophora puteana A fungus
880 Eristalis arbustorum A hoverfly
881 Kaestneria A Linyphiid spider
882 Dilophus femorata A Bibionid fly

Friday, 18 August 2017

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, 16 August 2017

Slow dive

So I spent the last few days unwinding all the gains of early in the month and am now back needing >3 spp per day to finish before end of September. That should still be ok, though, and with so few days even one good day will push it back under 3 anyway.

After clocking a larch in the school playground in January I finally scored with Suillus grevillei the day before term started. It's a long time for something you know is coming! My biggest "hole" this month is the moth total I expected and which has been badly damaged by either rain or cold, clear nights. There is still hope, though. Vismig has produced precious little although the expected Tree Pipit finally came up this morning. Should still be a few going past for a couple of weeks anyway. A kingfisher was nice to have though and I saw it/another again this morning.

857 Alcedo atthis Kingfisher
858 Suillus grevllei Larch Bolete
859 Helina reversio A muscid fly
860 Lycoperdon pyriforme Stump Puffball
861 Anthus trivialis Tree Pipit

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Photos - down with the sickness

My Picasa has decided to stop showing me photos, including editing them. This is a source of some considerable annoyance to me 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 a Potato Capsid

I initialy identified it correctly, then misidentified it subsequently somehow then had that corrected by Maria Justalmond 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!

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

Monday, 7 August 2017

Small white, bee, balls

This and that.. getting exciting now! Was hoping to get past 850 at the weekend but see note on moth walk!

Some lovely earth balls in the grounds of the chapel of the Earls of Moray - a small ruined building hidden between houses and surrounded by mostly uninteresting grass.

Fife's newest bee - Lasioglossum albipes

and the ironic award of the year - the only lep added from a nocturnal walk goes to ... several Small Whites roosting in grass. Easy to see at night though!.

I've gone back and forth on this knotgrass. It could be even-leaved or it could be just a little one. I may need a consultant.

Oh! I almost forgot! The amazing foreleg of Curtonotus convexiusculus. Straight out the pages of a Warhmammer bestiary.

837 Tussilago farfara Coltsfoot
838 Pimpinella saxifraga Burnet Saxifrage
839 Coprinus comatus Shaggy Inkcap
840 Pieris rapae Small White
841 Polygonum aviculare  Knotgrass
842 Scaeva pyrastri Scaeva pyrastri
843 Meliscaeva auricollis Meliscaeva auricollis
843 Lasioglossum albipes Lasioglossum albipes
844 Curtonotus convexiusculus A Ground beetle
845 Erysiphe polygoni A fungus
846 Coprinus auricomus A fungus
847 Conops quadrifasciatus A conopid fly

Friday, 4 August 2017

Vismig charts

Timing of non-wader/waterfowl visible migration for species targetting. Birds will make up only 1/10 of the species but I'll do vismigging anyway since I've waited so long to live in a place where I can do it outside my house!

Marsh harriers are definitely on the move as two reported from Fife sites this week.

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!

Fife's new blowfly...

Pollenia pediculata - Hairy-armpit Clusterfly

The easiest keying ever
And the Wood Woollyfoot ...

"fairy ring"

The woolly foot

Additions of 02-03/08:
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, 2 August 2017

The first time ...

... ever I saw your face..


New in at 831 - Herring Gull! 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

Incredible String Band

On reviewing my plant records against the local flora some interesting question marks have come up, and some bang-to-rights wrong 'uns. And now I find this in the Nature of Fife annals ...

Archaeognatha - bristletails
Petrobius brevistylis : Widespread on sea-cliffs.
Petrobius maritimus : I of May


Another one for checking, along with my Bur-dock and my Water-cress and ...

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Swings and Roundabouts

Four days ago, on 798, I was pondering how long it was taking me to get over the 800 hump. It seemed to go on forever. Now, four days later, such is the swings-and-roundabout effect of the project I'm 1/4 way to 900. And the day isn't finished! No doubt on 890 everything will seem to go into slow motion again...

A few forgotten and sorted out plants were added this morning, so I was content to head to the gym at lunchtime in inclement weather. Closed for refurbishment. Not one to fight the hand of destiny I headed for the very nearest point in my square which was the shortest drive away and with immediate access from the moment I leave the car. The fungus faeries had been. A quick three additions and some things in a pot were bagged in about 20 minutes. With a following wind I may be 1/3 of the way to 900 by close of play!

Common Puffball

Milking Bonnet

Common Funnel - abundant

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