Monday, 31 March 2014

Beauty and the beast

A brief drop in on Sunday morning turned up several Arion ater (slug), and a Lesser Celandine, although not in flower yet.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Diary 27th March - 2nd April

28th March
Good morning with 3 corticioids picked up (sensu lato), and a re-connection with Brown Centipede. The identifiable corticioid, Jelly Rot, is one I'm familiar with from elsewhere, and was on a piece of wood I picked up because of another, fantastically toothy, corticiod. I'm hoping that's quirky enough to help with ID

Despite some obvious casualties to predation, some frogs have made it to the water. What should I do, though, knowing that the tadpoles will probably all end up dessicated? I'm tempted to relocate them

2nd April
A rainy day yesterday meant no visit. Another wet morning this morning meant everything was wet, but the rain wasn't so bad. The wet and mild weather encouraged loads of slugs out, with 20 or so on the path to the hide alone. Grove Snails were apparent in the woldflower compartment and a toad was bumbling its way along the path between the woods and the hide. Red clover leaves are becoming more apparent, and there are still numerous leaves of unidentified plants all over. Barren Strawberry flowers were out beside the filter beds. Numbers at end of morning 2nd April:

2014 2014 Target % of
Target Actual left target
Birds 90 62 28 68
Vert other 5 3 2 60
Lepidoptera 75 1 74 1
Invert other 50 14 36 28
Vascular 200 56 144 28
Bryophytes 50 80 -30 160
Fungi 50 18 32 36
Lichens 5 3 2 60
525 237 288 45
(Heron from 25/3 added as I didn't realise it was a year 'tick')

Jelly Rot, Phlebia tremellosa

I will check out microscopically, but I'm fairly happy with it

Mycobank page for microscopic characters: link

Hyphal clamps; basidia with basal clamps; 4-spored; spores hyaline, allantoid 4–4.5 x 1–1.5um; ornamented projecting hyphae. Let's see how much of that we can see! Looking forward to the projecting hyphae

Brown Centipede, Lithobius forficatus

Last December I uncovered a Brown Centipede under a piece of bark in the woods. After positive ID I returned it to the same piece of bark. This morning I lifted it again and there it was. Brown Centipede, Lithobius forficatus. I think it's probably the same one, but it could just be perfect habitat.

I also picked up a couple of corticoid fungi, but nobody should bet large sums on final positive ID. However, one of them is a cracking toothed affair, so I'd really like to know that one

Odontoid fruiting body

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Craspedosoma rawlinsii - a flat-backed millipede

A millipede found in the woodland the other day has keyed out to the above species, which seems not unusual in the area and habitat (wet woodland). It has a ridged side, making it a "flat-backed millipede", and 28 ocelli in an equilateral triangle (that's 7 per side). It has been recorded on the reserve before, by GC in 1993, so it's been a while!

species page

Craspedosoma rawlinsii 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

7-spot Ladybird

Another invertebrate enjoying the spring sunshine at lunchtime, and another bird presumably enjoying invertebrates in the spillway! With 227 species recorded and 5 days to go until the end of the month, can 23 species be found to make it half way to target in Q1?


Vascular plants continue to grab the attention as Honeysuckle is this morning's addition. Alchemilla glabra, Smooth Lady's mantle, too, is breaking out all over. The quantity of Pignut emerging among all the short grassy areas is astounding - no wonder we have so much Chimney Sweeper moth.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Anthobium unicolor - a rove beetle

Found on dead wood in the woods while seeking corticioid fungi, this rove beetle appeared in my collecting box, so I figured I might as well try to identify it anyway. It turned out to be Anthobium unicolor Thanks for assistance go to RW and GC. If I could identify its passenger I could get two ticks for the price of one. Or three for two since I already recorded the Kretzschmaria fungus (not corticioid!)

Raspberry beret

Well, no beret, but Raspberry leaves are emerging. The beetle I snagged from the woodland appears to be a sort of Rove Beetle (Anthobium - thanks Rob!), but I don't know which species, and I may never, but let's see.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Diary 20-26th March

20th Mar
When looking for Corticiaceae in the woods I came across Pignut (much more discovered later in cpt8). I failed to find any corticioids but picked up an asco in the form of a Kretzschmaria.I also picked up a beetle and a millipede which are yet to be identified. The weather was grim with high winds and rain both in the morning and the afternoon.

22nd Mar
A couple of  Salix spp that I already knew manifested themselves as alive and ready to go for another season so I added them - Salix cinerea and Salix viminalis (Grey/Common Willow and Osier). Some Linnets also flew overhead which also turned out to be unrecorded thus far in 2014.

24th Mar
Sunny day with ice to begin and c.12 degrees at lunchtime. did a quick circuit above the car park but no new records. about 100 Colts-foot flowers on the banking are nice, and a wide variety of leaves are pushing through. I might try to identify the Alchemilla that's coming up soon (it's A.glabra, but I'll key it out anyway!). I'm now on 221 without having added Meadow Thistle yet. It's 24th March, so there are 7 days left and a moth night is coming up. What are my chances of reaching the half way point before the end of the month?

26th Mar
Noticed Honeysuckle leaves on a bright sunny morning, which started with ice on the car window. Alchemilla glabra is all around now on the verges and in the short grass, particularly in the car park surrounds.Two dead toads with spawn scattered around. One being fed on by buzzard this lunchtime, and the other dismembered by the spillway. There was a Heron there yesterday, but it may not have been the culprit.

Salix cinerea, Grey Willow opening up now, as is Osier, Salix viminalis. I know these two particular trees from last year, so it's good to know the species before seeing this stage of development. Also I will add Meadow Thistle, Cirsium dissectum, whose spoony leaf I now recognise. These two take the list to 220, and the vascular plant list to 50 - 25% of target.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Totals update

As a result of this week's activities for the first time the remaining required species/day has dropped below 1. 'Invert other' is probably the class that will require the most attention, although with a little help I still feel pretty good about that. I have a feeling fungi will beat the target quite easily too. The total list for the reserve (AFAIK!) is 877 species, so when it gets to 900 I'll do a review of all the lists to make sure they're up to date. With such things as Pondskater and Buff-tailed Bumblebee only now being added there must be many gaps.

2014 2014 Target % of
Target Actual left target
Birds 90 60 30 66
Vert other 5 1 4 20
Lepidopt 75 1 74 1
Invert other 50 8 43 14
Vascular 200 48 152 24
Bryophytes 50 80 -30 160
Fungi 50 17 33 34
Lichens 5 3 2 60
525 218 308 41

Days left: 285 
Species left: 282
Species/day required: 0.99

Skater shuffle monster movie mashup

Just to confuse matters I have now entered Common Pondskater, Gerris lacustris to the list, but from 18th March. Thus everything moves up from that date. The mouthparts on this beast would work well in a good old-timey monster movie!

208 Tachybaptus ruficollis Little Grebe 18/03/2014
209 Puccinia phragmitis n/a - a rust on Rumex acetosa 18/03/2014
210 Rallus aquaticus Water Rail 18/03/2014
211 Crataegus monogyna Hawthorn 18/03/2014
212 Caltha palustris Marsh-marigold 18/03/2014
213 Velia sp. Water Cricket 18/03/2014
214 Luzula sylvatica Great Wood-rush 19/03/2014
215 Veronica chamaedrys Germander Speedwell 19/03/2014
216 Phragmidium bulbosum fungus on Rubus spp. 19/03/2014
217 Conopodium majus Pignut 20/03/2014
218 Kretzschmaria deusta Brittle Cinder 20/03/2014

Pink bubblegum chewed up

When opening the box the pink bubblegum had become what appears to be a more normal state of a grey interior surface with pae edges, revealing itself as Kretzschmaria deusta, AKA Brittle Cinder. A nice new fungal tick for the reserve.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Pignut and pink bubblegum

Went looking for some corticioid fungi at lunchtime (more on that later maybe) despite the horrible weather and came across some Pignut on my way there. Given the number of Chimneysweeper moths there are it had to be here somewhere. The pink bubblegum fungus will have to await further analysis before being identified - if it ever is! Also found a slug which I photographed in passing. That, too, may never be named.

Phragmidium determined

So the Phragmidium turned out to be P.violaceum. Different sources reckoned that violaceum was either primarily 3-septate or 4-septate, and bulbosum was mostly 5-septate but up to 7 or so.

As it turned out this example was c.70% 3-septate and 30% 4-septate on a random sample and never more than that. It also has a nice yellow beak which was mentioned somewhere (but which could be common to both species).

Because it's so cool I'm probably going to go overboard with the photos, but I can't help it.Note that the yellow spots are actually raised bumps, although it's diffitult to see in 2-d.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The march of the vasculars (and a second rust based on them!)

So the year started with a sprint on bryophytes and a steady progression of bird species, and they still make up the lion's share of the total. However, every day now the vascular plants are stacking up and Germander Speedwell is the latest addition to the list, flowering on the reserve path. #214

A rust found below the leaf (or on the adaxial side!) of a Rubus sp. was Phragmidium bulbosum, another common and familiar sight. I'm looking forward to putting it under the microscope. Could prove to be P.violaceum. Whether I can tell the difference is another question(I read that "P. bulbosum has mostly 5 septa, P. violaceum mostly 3" - let's see)

Great Wood-rush

Wood-rush key (Poland)

Lvs mostly >6 mm wide (reduces to 4 spp.)
Lvs without midrib raised below
Leaves parallel-sided or widest at base
 -> Great Wood-rush, Luzula sylvatica

Basal lvs 10-50x6-15mm, broadly linear, tapered to v.acute apex, shiny bright green, sparsely hairy, cilia usu >8mm, midrib not discernible from 10-12 main veins ...

The cilia have in this case mostly departed from the edges of these leaves, but they were present last year and checked out

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Water Rail, Hawthorn

Both added at lunchtime. The former from the filter beds, and the latter from the roadside, where the leaves are emerging now. There was also an emerging plant in the filter beds which I think is Marsh Marigold. I'll check before adding it. It's perennial and there was one in the same place last year and I've been keeping an eye out for it, so I think that one will be fine.

Rumex rust revelation

Thanks to a leg-up from the facebook Pan-species Lister page I think this spot on the sorrel (Rumex acetosa) is the rust Puccinia phragmitis

It affects also Rumex crispa (Curled dock), and it is also visible on those plants on the reserve. In fact it's a very common sight. This seems to be the organism which has won the contract for dismantling Rumex leaves.

Aside from the benefit of identifying this one rust, I now am likely in a position to add double figures of species as the winners of the contracts to dismantle other species/genera/families make themselves apparent.

I have saved some and now I'm looking forward to getting it under the microscope. not that saving iti s necessary, if you consider just how much sorrel and dock there is!

(note; check Uromyces rumicis)

Curled Dock, Rumex crispus

Thought I had Curled Dock on my hands a couple of times this year, so I keyed it out in Poland (link) last night for the practice as much as the reassurance.

Leaves revolute when young
Usually mild acidic taste
Ochreae (fused stipules) always present at least when young

Leaves mostly basal
Leaves pinnately veined, not orb (at least wider than long)
Leaves not hastate (spear shaped)
Leaves green, hairless -> Dock D

Leaves slightly rounded-cordate at base
Leaves crisped-undulate, 8-30x1.5-5cm, more than 4 times as long as wide
Leavs greyish-green, thickish

Thus saith Poland

Monday, 17 March 2014

Pond skaters

Found some nice pond skaters at lunchtime (Water Crickets!), zipping around on the flat water adjacent to a small outflow pipe.

I'll try to catch one or two tomorrow. I had nothing to get them with today. The white lines I thought would be distinctive enough, but I don't know yet

Friday, 14 March 2014

Diary 13-19th March

13th March
Added Buff-tailed Bumblebee, from photos of one of the many that were going back and forth betwen the ground and the Willow catkins - the highest ones they could get to, just to make life difficult.

14th March
A quick roundup of obvious and easy trees that I already knew were there but held off recording. Since I found an online guide to bud/twig ID it was a good opportunity. I'll re-record them when the leaves come but I still only get one species for the effort! Part of the reasoning also was that given the time of year I will be faced with lots of new stuff that I am not so comfortable with and it's better to get the easy ones out of the way.

17th March
A couple of species of plant added, Spear Thistle, Cirsium vulgare, and Curled Dock, Rumex crispus. Also found some pond skaters on flat water beside a spill pipe near the hides (other side of the path). Unidentified as yet, but there are only a few species in Britain and only 6 known from VC85. (they were Water criskets! Velia sp.)

18th March
Picked up a couple of pond skaters this morning. Also identified a rust on Rumex acetosa as Puccinia phragmitis thanks to assistance via the PSL facebook page (in particular link). First Little Grebe record of the year was a little chap sounding off near to the hide this morning in the rain. Unfortunately I had left my camera in the car due to said rain. At lunchtime a Water Rail sharming from the filter beds and some Hawthorn leaves were emerging so I stuck that on the list as well. Totals so far:

2014 2014 Target % of
Target Actual left target
Birds 90 60 30 66
Vert other 5 1 4 20
Lepidopt 75 1 74 1
Invert other 50 7 43 14
Vascular 200 44 157 22
Bryophytes 50 80 -30 160
Fungi 50 15 35 30
Lichens 5 3 2 60
525 211 314 39

19th March
A few species added at the conclusion of this week, and 250 should be not far out of sight by the end of March hopefully. Two species added this week based on the discovery of the guide to rusts on plants, and a continuing flourish of green spring appearances. Germander Speedwell is in flower though, and the leaves are everywhere but not identified until now.

208 Tachybaptus ruficollis Little Grebe 18/03/2014
209 Puccinia phragmitis n/a - a rust on Rumex acetosa 18/03/2014
210 Rallus aquaticus Water Rail 18/03/2014
211 Crataegus monogyna Hawthorn 18/03/2014
212 Caltha palustris Marsh-marigold 18/03/2014
213 Luzula sylvatica Great Wood-rush 19/03/2014
214 Veronica chamaedrys Germander Speedwell 19/03/2014
215 Phragmidium bulbosum fungus on Rubus spp. 19/03/2014

Special Branch

After reading up on identification of trees from their branches I decided to do the rounds at Cullaloe at lunchtime. I was going to hold off on these until they had leaves, but it was a good excuse to put some new knowledge into practice.

The biology-resources link is here: link. I think it's for high school biology students. I once was one of those, but only for one year when I did a crash course biology "O" Grade

Here's one of the illustrations that inspired the foray - a Horse Chestnut twig:

So much of the surface is made up of scar tissue - leaf scars, where you can see the ends of closed-off vascular bundles, scale scars - the little collections of transverse lines. Here's one from Cullaloe, now recorded:

You can see above the little collection of scars where the previous year's bud scales would have been, and the leaf scars with vascular bundles closed off in autumn to protect the tree from dehydration.

I also recorded Sycamore, Pedunculate Oak and Beech since I was "doing" trees

Oak, clustered ends

Bee update

Managed a few closer shots of bees yesterday. This time I also found on BWARS website (link) the useful tip "fresh workers often have a narrow band of brownish hairs at the base of the white ‘tail’" for B.terrestris. I'm not sure this is even a worker, but I am sure its tail has at least a narrow band of brownish hairs. This one has a lot of passengers! Looking at pics from last year of B.lucorum, it has a very clean tail (see hymenoptera gallery here)

post-script from iRecord

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Swings and roundabouts

So the hope of positive bee ID looks like it has buzzed off, but on the up side a hoverfly I photographed yesterday has been identified as Cheilosia grossa (thanks to the guys on UK Hoverflies facebook page!). I briefly tried to look for it in my hoverflies books last night, but now I can drill down on it I'll get a better idea of what to look for next time around. I also just realised that since the bee failed, this is the actual 200th species for Cullalloe this year! AND it's a new record for the reserve into the bargain. Hoorah!

Bee mine!

After some frustrating misses on bees in the last couple of days, I settled down at Cullaloe this morning to take multiple long range shots of bees feeding on catkins near the tops of trees - their preference, rather than mine. I managed to snap a couple of relatively in focus shots of what I thought was Bombus lucorum, the White-tailed Bumble Bee. It seems that Bombus terrestris is another possibility though. They appear to be emerging from a south facing slope, and both species nest in the ground. Both species also appear early. Now I have to figure out what differentiators can be used and whether I have them. It's a worker. That's a start, I suppose.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Chiff Chaff and Kestrel take year list to 200!

Well, I walked the butterfly transect, distracted occasionally by various things, including a Chifffchaff, a Kestrel (which I didn't record here in 2013!), a bee - unidentified - and a hoverfly which made ID hard by perching on my camera lens facing me. I got some pics in the end but who knows whether it can be identified. Net and pots in the post! Plus, look at that blue sky!! 14 degrees. Braw :)

A red-letter day as these two take the 2014 species list to 200!!! (list)

Wait - stand by your beds -  due to a glitch in the matrix daffodil has been recorded twice, once only by genus, and iRecord output it twice as different species. 199. Time for pulling out the hoverfly books