Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Dalgety Bay - the first quarter

With the square under snow I revisited a small ascomycete pulled from a rotten log at the weekend which had given me the runaround the previous evening. Finally after scouring the books and some false starts on the keys I nailed it down. Funnily enough as soon as I knew what it was I was able to see features that had eluded me though they were obvious. Ascocoryne sarcoides is a frequent sight in any woodland but one disc of it's congener Ascocoryne cylichnium completely threw me. There was only one disc, hence the keying false starts. Only working back from the fantastic spores was I able to put the other pieces in place. These spores bud off mini-spores, which is a very funky thing to do.  You can see from the pics below that the images are full of these tiny spores which I had managed not to see as significant until I already knew they were. Anyway, it was a nice small victory and a nice lifer to bring up the 250th species

chopped in half for  squishing

Ascus tips blued with iodine

Spores and tons of mini-spores

Spore illustration in Dennis

Fungi of Switzerland

Spore and baby

This morning I was stuck in weather related traffic so baled out and went for a ten minute walk, managing to snag a nice winter thrush combo without waiting until October


So now I'm at 252 and everything else this month is a bonus. Some of the categories I'm already past last year's February total, so all in all very happy with the start. Let's see whether my new kitchen fitting screws up the rest of the month!

A bonus one because (a) it's nice and (b) probably everyone else can find it on Betula twigs near them - Pseudovalsa lanciformis. This was species 247 or something

Monday, January 15, 2018

Dalgety Bay - Filthy scum!

Nothing could be more delightful than coming across a fast running stream with a catchpoint full of filthy, frothy scum!

That is, when you have Ingold in your library...

Ingold treats the delightful creatures that are aquatic hyphomycetes and aquatic hyphomycete spores are nothing if not weird and wonderful. They grow on submerged leaves and release their spores downstream. These spores then get caught up in the bubbles of the scum and wait for me to scoop them into a pot and stick them under a microscope (that's what they're doing, right?). Do it quick, though, because if they settle on anything - like the bottom of the pot - they will start to grow and you won't get them under the lens. Best to put the bubbles straight onto the microscope slide. You can fix them by adding alcohol to the mix, which stops them from growing, but I haven't tried this. Here are some of these beauties...

Tetracladium setigerum - my fave, but not from this square

Alatospora acuminata - "flapping bird" - the most common

Tetracladium marchalianum - note family resemblace

Not sure yet, but we live in hope ... (Clavariopsis aquatica!)
Apart from that fun and frolics (two drops, half an hour, 5 species) the weekend went swimmingly with more exploration of the marshy, boggy wonder that is Ross Plantation and a good helping of routine birds finally getting on board. If anyone wants to play with froth but lacks Ingold I'm happy to name anything obvious from photos. The book isn't that big and ID for some of them is really, really obvious.

(EDIT! Lookie here! I found an online key. No idea how good it is, but it looks like it ought to work: AQUATIC HYPHOMYCETE KEY)

One thing's for certain - I'm benefitting from last year's exercise as I can quickly check species that were new to me last year. Including this coastal Halorates reprobus I found under a rock at the edge of the bay.

So here we are at 242, and the last ten ...

232 fungus Xylaria polymorpha Dead Man's Fingers
233 lichen Lecanora chlarotera A lichen
234 moss Plagiothecium undulatum Waved Silk-moss
235 liverwort Pelia epiphylla Overleaf Pellia
236 coleoptera Leistus rufomarginatus A ground beetle
237 fungus Brachysporium masonii A hyphomycete
238 diptera Crumomyia nitida A lesser dung fly
239 diptera Thoracochaeta zosterae A lesser dung fly
240 bird Sturnus vulgaris Starling
241 lichen Candelariella vitellina A lichen
242 fungus Stereum gausapatum A fungus

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Skye - This week, I 'ave been mostly strugglin'

Not much to add from last week's tally, mostly because the hotel is having the main reception/dining hall/toilets refurbed and I've been busy helping to create and then clear up the ensuing mess. And boy, what a mess! Several walls and partitions are no more, new walls and partitions are up, and the cables, don't even get me started on the cables! But also, I've a new housemate (thankfully short-term) who is driving me to distraction and largely preventing me from cracking on with IDs and stuff. I may run away until he moves on. But things have been seen, identified and logged. Not many, but some. 

Oligolophus hanseni - cunningly trapped in a home-made spi-pot type thingie....
The nitty gritty end of Phragmidium violaceum
Common Earwig - the only orthopteroid I've ever recorded from far...

Numbers wise I'm currently languishing on 272. I was sneakily hoping to hit 333 by the end of the month, but I think that's just pie in the Skye now. I was also supposed to be getting to grips with bryophytes this month. Hmmm, we shall see.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Dalgety Bay - 200 (and 1) up

View to the distant yacht club at the other end of my square

A few more species which are more or less routine, and with a fair list of birds which ought to be around things are ticking along relatively smoothly. I picked up three species of millipede yesterday but they just kill me. Two I couldn't identify and the other was a juvenile Polydesmus. No idea why I have such a hard time with them. I end up in couplets where I know both answers are nonsense. Maybe I need a different key.

Here are a couple of pics of things that I could identify.

Coleroa robertiani, very common on Herb Robert

Leaf miner Phytomyza chaerophylli

The starry Homalothecium sericeum - a common wall dweller

Equipment feature - a £2 craft box for mosses and small fungi and a pot for catching non-flying inverts courtesy of my local takeaway. Both invaluable!

I also just noticed that today's additions bring the bryophyte total up to the year total for 2017! Still a bit of fishing left in that pond though.

And some numbers ...
191 moss Homalothecium sericeum Silky Wall Feather-moss
192 moss Mnium hornum Swan's-neck Thyme-Moss
193 mollusc Aegopinella nitidula Smooth Glass Snail
194 diptera Phytomyza chaerophylli Cow parsley Leaf Miner
195 bird Carduelis carduelis Goldfinch
196 bird Fringilla coelebs  Chaffinch
197 bird Larus fuscus Lesser Black-backed Gull
198 bird Podiceps cristatus Great Crested Grebe
199 fern Asplenium ruta-muraria Wall-rue
200 moss Schistidium apocarpum Sessile Grimmia
201 bird Larus canus Common Gull

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Dalgety Bay - crab salad

Still working through some weekend woodland material, but yesterday I spent lunchtime on the shore hoping for Little Auks and Long-tailed Ducks. I had neither but I did jam into Ringed Plovers, which I've only seen once before in the Bay in some 20 years. Tide was low so I did some boulder turning and wandered out into the bay to see what rock pools may be available. It's mostly sandy but there are some. Like my previous square the major pieces of rock that have pools have little by way of turnable rocks so I may have to make my own refuges to later find things in (traps?).

Find of the day was undoubtedly a new crab for me - the Long-clawed Porcelain Crab (Pisidia longicornis), which is apparently common in exactly such situations. My crab radar is set for too large, and this species has a max size of about 10mm. I probably overlooked it. This one was the worse for wear as I suspect I had damaged it while turning the rock.

A book I coveted for ages before caving in to desire

Another nice find from the weekend was Schistidium maritimum; a new moss for me. I knew of past records in the Bay but didn't know exactly where from. This is the first time I have ever measured a moss spore to confirm ID! (though I have checked liverwort spores on Fossombronia)

Red "boobs" of Schistidium and no hair points

spores 20-28u

One more that I wanted to share is a fly I found end of December but went back to re-record in January. It's a lovely dolichopodid, Liancalus virens, which wasn't previously recorded in Fife.

156 alga Hildenbrandia rubra An alga
157 lichen Verrucaria maura A lichen
158 lichen Verrucaria mucosa A lichen
159 moss Schistidium maritimum Seaside Grimmia
160 moss Ulota bruchii A moss
161 mollusc Anomia ephippium Saddle Oyster
162 mollusc Discus rotundatus Rounded Snail
163 mollusc Gibbula cineraria Grey Top Shell
164 mollusc Nucella lapillus Dog Whelk
165 mollusc Patella vulgata Common Limpet
166 bryozoan Membranipora membranacea Sea Mat
167 crustacean Austrominius modestus A barnacle
168 crustacean Carcinus maenas Green Shore Crab
169 crustacean Gammarus locusta A crustacean
170 crustacean Orchestia gammarellus Sand Hopper
171 crustacean Pisidia longicornis Long-clawed Porcelain Crab
172 coleoptera Philonthus decorus A rove beetle
173 bird Anas crecca Teal
174 bird Charadrius hiaticula Ringed Plover

Monday, January 8, 2018

Eype. Algae and beetles

Seth's comment to my previous post raises a couple of points and I thought I would elaborate.

The coastal soft rock cliffs in the square are indeed very bio-diverse and were a major reason for my choosing this square. They are especially noted for their invertebrates and are nationally notable for beetles (and I think Hymenoptera)

However in front of the cliffs to high-water is a beach mostly composed of small pebbles. This is not a good substrate for Algae at all. (or indeed any littoral wildlife!) Right at the western boundary of the square are some larger boulders which I expect to have at least a few algae on but have not yet visited at very low water.
I could add more algae/seashore life by either of the following.
Beachcombing. Certainly algae does get washed up but is not tickable?? This is strange when so many people were ticking dead washed up jellyfish last autumn?
The square has to be 1km squared but it does not - apparently - have to be an exact grid square. If I was to move the boundary 100m west it would improve things!

However for now I am happy to continue as normal. Any constructive comments on this would be welcomed.

Finally a photo of a beetle. This photo was taken by me at Eype last summer. I took the photo during my first ever twitch to see a beetle! Oh nooo what is happening to me?!

Dalgety Bay, NT1683 - 155

A few more additions and now I'm back at work I can finally sort out some picture editing. Less playing out though, so that's not so good. I have plenty of material on hand for ID though. It's been nice working some different habitat and it looks like I'll do slightly better on bryophytes this year. Last year was a very dull year in that respect

Cylindrobasidium laeve and its teardrop spores

Don't see that every day - Calathus rotundicollis toothed claw

Riccardia chamaedryfolia 

Fissidens taxifolius

Orthotrichum diaphanum - only one with white hairpoints

152 flowering plant Typha latifolia Bulrush
153 flowering plant Urtica dioica Common Nettle
154 bird Vanellus vanellus Lapwing
155 bird Turdus philomelos Song Thrush

Also I should put this here before I start tweaking it, since I always modify targets as time goes on and it's nice to have a record

Category 2018 Target
alga 2 15
protist other 0 0
slime mould 0 1
lichen 9 50
fungus 23 150
liverwort 8 10
moss 15 40
flowering plant 40 150
conifer 1 3
fern 2 3
cnidarian 0 2
mollusc 3 30
bryozoan 0 2
annelid 0 5
flatworm 1 1
harvestman 0 5
pseudoscorpion 0 1
spider 0 30
gall mite 0 2
Tick 0 1
millipede 0 5
centipede 1 3
crustacean 2 10
collembola 2 10
bristletails 0 1
odonata 0 1
dermaptera 0 1
orthoptera 0 0
hemiptera 1 25
coleoptera 1 50
diptera 5 200
lep-moth 1 150
lep-butterfly 0 5
hymenoptera 1 30
insect-other 0 5
tunicate 0 1
echinoderm 0 1
invert-other 0 1
fish 0 5
reptile 0 0
amphibian 0 1
bird 35 100
mammal 2 5
155 1111

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Skye - Quarter of the Way There

Managed to nip out for an hour or so this afternoon with a 'need' to find a handful more species for the tally. The tide was relatively low so I headed straight for the beach and started turning stones as far down the shore as I could get. Bingo, spun one large rock and found myself eyeballing six or seven Shore Rocklings, another rock had a small Common Eel beneath it. A bit of Cladophera rupestris amongst the assorted wracks, Spirorbis spirorbis on the wrack blades, some Common Sorrel and Common Dog Violet in the roadside verges. Throw in the big patch of Rosebay Willowherb looking all dead and untickable - apart from the still attached seeds which are entirely countable - and it all tallies up to a rather pleasing 253 species. A full quarter of the way there in the opening week of the Challenge, I'm happy with that!

I only took one photo today, this is it

If my hand looks as though its been in a fridge overnight - it was flippin cold out there today!

Eype SY 44 91, first 2018 visit

I spent 5 hours yesterday walking the beach and various footpaths of the square. In total I recorded 104 species which was a fairly good start to the year by my standards.
Totals were; Higher plants 70, Bryrophytes 4, Lichens 6, Birds 22 and mammals 2.

Although I have walked around the square many times over the years I have previously only recorded birds and higher plants in it. This has made it a bit difficult to project species group targets for the square but the following table is my attempt at doing so.

2018 target
Annelid worms
Other insects


Saturday, January 6, 2018

Skye - Under Rocks

Managed to add new species every day of the year so far. Highlights have been regular sightings of an Iceland Gull at the beach, joined a couple of days ago by a Glaucous Gull - both self-found and sucessfully twitched by several Skye birders. There's a Black Guillemot that is already in quite an advanced state of moult. No sign of any mammals at all yet, apart from human. Buzzard has gone from being almost always in sight to remarkably elusive in the space of a week. I've had just a single sighting so far, a dusk flyby. 

Today I went to the beach, spun quite a few boulders and cobbles and found a few nice bits

Strigamia maritima being photobombed by an Aepus marinus
Both of these air-breathing animals are to be found beneath rocks that are entirely submerged at high tide, surviving in tiny air pockets until the water recedes once more. Quite an incredible niche! 

I headed into the woods and continued turning over boulders, finding a really nice selection of inverts

Kontikia andersoni - a non-native terrestrial flatworm
Microplana terrestris - this terrestrial flatworm is a native species
Microplana scharffi - another native terrestrial flatworm, with Anurida springtails, maybe???
Geophilus alpinus (insculptus) - Uig Wood is still the only known site on Skye for these!
Cylindroiulus punctatus - I think I disturbed its beauty sleep
I have another six species to find by end of play tomorrow, then I'll be quarter of the way to the 1000 in the opening week. Not that it's a race, but that'd be really rather satisfying on a purely personal level.