Monday, 19 December 2016

2016 - top ten

My favourite species encountered this year - not all are rare, but maybe my first or maybe the circumstance makes them special

10. Geastrum triplex
The most common of the earthstars in Britain, these are included because they are my first and because, amazingly, I found them 2 metres behind the fence of my new house after looking forward to seeing some (any earthstar) for a while.

9. Hydrophorus nebulosus
Not recorded in the Lothians for 100 years and last recorded by Percy Grimshaw, I spotted this pair on the mud from the boardwalk over Red Moss SWT reserve and was delighted when I managed to pot them. Even more delighted for them to go and live in NMS with so much of Percy's other material.

8. Triarthria setipennis
Not a particularly special species but this is the first fly I raised from a found pupa (in a Typha stem). I only had to wait three weeks but looking back it seemed like much longer!

7. Deporaus betulae
This one was a first for county, but I had to wait a while to see the fantastic curled leaves that makes this one so nice. When it happened the birches in the whole area looked like they had Xmas decorations.

6. Birch sawfly (Cimbex femoratus)
Looking down from the side of the path and seeing this clinging to a grass stem is a slightly Dr.Who experience. It is a BEAST. And also a sawfly I can identify. I still have the image of its jaws opening and closing on my retinas.

5. Coeliodinus nigritarsis
This should probably be higher, and maybe would be if it had any back story. Because of the lack of that I don't really have strong feelings about it, even though it may turn out to be a first for Scotland. It was the first weevil I checked out using Duff, although I couldn't make my mind up between this and "the other" Coeliodinus (rubicundus) and eventually it was determined by someone else. I wonder if I will love it more with hindsight. It is a beautiful and tiny thing, though.(edit: not 1st, but one of less than ten records)

 4. Phebellia glauca
A fly which gave me the runaround for quite some time before I tentatively identified it. I visited NMS to try to confirm it (and hand over some other material to safer hands than mine) and got to take a tour and play with some lovely expensive optics. On top of that the determination turned out to be correct so a good experience all round. Roll on the day I have the time to make more regular visits.

3. Paracraspedothrix montivaga
The fly of the year for me, probably. After some trouble keying it out (got to right place but it wasn't in the key!) and some assistance nudging me towards the new draft Tachinidae key, I found this in three separate locations. I missed the first for Scotland, which was slightly disappointing, but the three records show presumably not only a much expanded range from that previously recorded but maybe also a decent distribution in SE Scotland.

2. Abrothallus prodiens
This lichenicolous fungus in the Lothians was a nice chance find which was the furthest south in Britain and the only British record outside of the Scottish Highlands. It also gave me an excuse to write a small article for the BLS bulletin. Found on the same day as #9 so that was a good day!

1. Yellow-ringed Carpet (Entephria flavicinctata)
While down a gulley on the Isle of Mull looking for bryophytes I encountered a moth on the rock face which I was able to net (everybody takes nets to look at bryophytes, right?) and confirm. An ironic one, because we ended up staying in a hotel so I hadn't taken a moth trap. I might have better records this year but somehow this one sticks out for me.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Moss and Mushroom

Lovely Saniona uncinata which isn't new but is lovely nevertheless. Even the fruit wants to curve.

This Inocybe geophylla is new, though a bit more nondescript

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Paracraspedothrix montivaga - 2nd Scottish record

While attempting to net some kind of Syrphid at Cullaloe this was swept up in the net alongside it. Later emptying of pooter contents revelaed a tiny tachinid, not more than 5mm long, which eventually came out to Paracraspedothrix montivaga. This species wasn't in the RES key as it hadn't been recorded in Britain at the time the key was written. Thanks to Chris Raper's personal intervention and his revised key it was identified. Further investigation revealed I had been beaten to the punch and one record is alreaedy on the way to publication in Dipterist Digest. Well, there's always a next time!

Slime Mold - Didymium squamulosum

The reserve doesn't have a big slime mold list. This magnificent beast was found on the stem of dead water horsetail at the pond margin

Monday, 15 August 2016

Collared Parachute, Charcoal Burner

Two fungo from last Thursday edge us closer to the 1500 total - two more species remain and I have more than that at home awaiting ID!

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Jurassic Cullaloe

A part of Cullaloe not many people get to see. Hard to get to. And hard to move through!

Friday, 29 July 2016

When you thought something was yellow

Helophilus pendulus hoverfly, which you would normally think was yellow...

Friday, 22 July 2016

Gold Swift

This nice Gold Swift was fond clinging to the underside of smoe Meadowsweet at lunchtime. The second time this species has been found in almost the same place - a fern feeder

This prompted the discovery of two species missing from the moth list which had definitely been recorded before, the other being Map-winged Swift.

This takes us to 1480 - 20 species away from the 1500 target!

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Lejogaster metallina

A nice new hoverfly for the reserve and along with Pipizella viduata makes up the new total of 61 hoverflies. the fly target of 130 species has now been passed and only we are only 22 species away from the target of 1500 species overall.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Gall mites

An Alnus beside the pond was particularly badly affected by gall mites with a large patch of leaves standing out. Two of them were not on the reserve list so good news for the mites and for the catalogue. Not so good for the tree!

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Mompha propinquella - moth #209

Moth species number 209 for the reserve leaves us one short of the target for the year with 6 months to go. Flies also are only 1 species away from a target of 130. Both will surely exceed the target.

With 32 species to go until the big 1500 it's likely that target will be exceeded by some margin. Hopefully!

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Moth list pushes up total

This nice Bordered White was a new species to the reserve on Saturday night, along with Elachista argentella and Tinea semifulvella. 141 new species for the reserve so far this year, which considering the target was 200 is pretty well ahead of schedule. Cracking moth, too.

Monday, 6 June 2016

If you go down in the woods today...

A foray with the FGSES at Cullaloe on Sunday produced a good scattering of plant pathogens and the occasional mushroom

No doubt when all is counted there will be a nice boost to the fungal list for the reserve in addition to non fungal species already added - Diamondback Moth is a nice new one as part of a recent influx. Other vascular plants may also emerge as new additions.

Lasiosphaeria ovina

A smut on anthers of Red Campion

More to follow ...

Click to go to Fungal Group of SE Scotland

Monday, 30 May 2016

Willow Beetle

Been more than a month since the last post but the weather is now a bit warmer and leaves are out - All the young birch trees (and presumably the Willows, though I was specifically looking at Birch trees) have abundant Willow Beetle- Lochmaea caprea

Monday, 25 April 2016

Great Diving Beetle at Mossmorran

A brief bottle trap for ten hours during Sunday turned up 2 of the above. Very fine they were too

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Chocolate Moth

After a disaster with a petrol-deficient generator we abandoned moth trapping early last night after only catching one macro moth - a Water Carpet. Even that was caught with the headtorch. But with open skies and a bright moon we were always up against it anyway. This is the chocolate form of Water Carpet and, as is traditional, it was caught down near the filter beds.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Diplostyla concolor

A new spider for me, if not for the reserve, this Linyphiid was shaken from leaf litter yesterday morning along with a couple of other Linyphiids yet to be determined

Diplostyla concolor
Also found was this hairy snail which I think is Trochulus hispidus (English "Hairy snail"!)

Percy Grimshaw

Recently I had the fortune to be able to pot a pair of small flies while walking at Red Moss reserve in the Lothians. It turned out that the species, Hydrophorus nebulosus, had not been recorded in the 100km square NT since 1903, when it was recorded by Percy Grimshaw.

By chance I came across a photo of him today while looking for information on his career, and oddly found it a moving experience. Percy was born in Leeds in 1869 and died in Edinburgh in 1939. In 1893 he started working for the Royal Scottish Museum as an entomologist and from 1930-35 was "Keeper of Natural History".

He seems to have co-authored an Atlas of Zoogeography with Eagle Clark and J G Bartholomew (the geographer and cartographer who named Antarctica!), but so far I haven't found anything more. Over that many years he must have made a significant contribution to Scottish entomology. He also must have dodged or survived the Great War I suppose.

Photo reference:

Atlas of Zoogeography:

Remarkably, Percy Grimshaw was also the first occupant of Number 1, Coronation Street, though that was an altogether different Percy Grimshaw: 

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Palmate newt at Cullaloe

Out and about all over the place at this time of year, but this one was under a log

Friday, 1 April 2016

Common Grey Disco - Mollisea cinerea

It might be common but it's still lovely - on dead wood on the embankment

Thursday, 31 March 2016

A new Operational Taxonomic Unit* for Cullalue - Tephrina betulae

On the fallen leaves of birch. Also T.populina on the fallen aspen leaves this morning

*Operational taxonomic unit
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In phylogeny an operational taxonomic unit (OTU) is an operational definition of a species or group of species often used when only DNA sequence data is available.[1] It is the most commonly used microbial diversity unit.

The definition given by NCBI is:

"Taxonomic level of sampling selected by the user to be used in a study, such as individuals, populations, species, genera, or bacterial strains."

Another definition:

"Operational taxonomic unit, species distinction in microbiology. Typically using rRNA and a percent similarity threshold for classifying microbes within the same, or different, OTUs"

The number of OTUs defined may be inflated due to errors in DNA sequencing.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Violet Ground Beetle

This one not from Cullaloe, but from Bavelaw/Red Moss in the Lothians. A nice beetle, though

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

200 lepidoptera!

Two new moth species from an early session last night took the reserve list to 200, including butterflies. Hopefully the 200 moth total will soon be reached. New ones were Mottled Grey and Yellow Horned (also new for NT18). This takes the new species for this year to 57, and the total species to 1363. 137 to go!

Monday, 21 March 2016

50 lichens!

So Protoblastenia rupestris has become the 50th lichen to be recorded at Cullaloe. A lovely mortar-lover which was inhabiting a small corner of a chunk of mortar on the wall near the disabled car park. There are plenty more to come but 50 was the target for this year.

Egle ciliata - a flower fly (Anthmoyiidae)

This nice little Anthomyiid fly is abundant at the moment, basking on sunlit tree trunks and often covered in Sallow pollen from the nearby Salix (cinerea presumably) trees. It's the most widespread of its genus.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Cullaloe newt

Palmate, I think. Seemed entirely sober, but then it was early.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Back to Cullaloe lichens

A lovely Physcia aipolia on the wooden fence near the entrance and Xanthoria polycarpa on a hawthorn near the filter beds

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Away day - Dumbarnie Links - 12/03/2016

A nice away day in lovely mild spring weather produced a catalogue of delights well worth the time spent meandering around

A nice addition to the reserve list which was inside the south pilbox was this Herald moth

None of the expected butterflies seemed to be present though - did they leave already?

There were a few nice lichens, some of which I could recognise ...

Acarospora fuscata on a boulder in the main slack
Lecanora chlarotera on an "imported" hawthorn

Lecidella elaeochroma - same hawthorn

Phaeophyscia orbicularis on pillbox bricks
and some which I couldn't ...

Pillbox - Lecidella scabra?

low down on Sycamore trunk
Some recognisable invertebrates showed up...

Phaedon tumidulus

Tenuiphantes tenuis

Thoracochaeta zosterae
and some others which still await determination.

Last but not least a few fungi popped up, but mostly the microfungi type at this time of year

A pyrenomycete on gorse

Phoma (Metasphaera) complanata

Tubercularia vulgaris - to be confirmed
For each group there are still outstanding samples to be determined - the sign of a productive day!