Saturday, 18 May 2019

Poo

I'd offered to help at a bio-blitz tomorrow afternoon but it's been cancelled. Pleased because what I'd really like to do is head for the poo fields on the coast and have a delve about. Last weekend we went here:

The field of dreams....

And amongst the many Aphodius depressus and sphecalatus/prodromus (I'm still not sure about these) there was a single Aphodius lapponum, NFM, dead chuffed. (It took a bit of work to key it out though.)

Agrolinus lapponum (more taxonomic jiggery going on). The orange thing on the end of the elytra is a parasitic mite.

Also during the week a photo was posted on FB of a large dung beetle on Westray. After a bit of help and (a little controversy perhaps) an ID of Geotrupes stercorarius was made. I'd not realised that any Dor Beetles occurred here so I was a bit amazed. Then I was informed there was a 1901 record and five or six more recent ones and quite a wide variety of sites (all the same recorder - no not the 1901 one -  who clearly has the knack for, and determination to, search for and find these). I'm quite surprised one hasn't come to light here or been found in poo I've been digging around in - but I'm on a mission now...

The moth trap yielded a Dark Sword-grass in the week. And we're all lit up this evening with three traps running. Just out now to check the MV.

Managed to get away from work in order to twitch today's Woodchat on the industrial estate at Hatston late afternoon. Whilst I've seen loads abroad, and one in Ireland, I'd always dipped previously in UK. The light was a bit rubbish and I couldn't get the mantle colour but I think this was an adult female. 



 The primary patch is easy to see so race senator.

Top image Canon but other two digiscoped.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Tree Spugs and other things

It's been cold and finding insects, especially hoverflies has been hard work. I've not had the moth traps out for a while and trying the night before last I caught only Hebrew Character, wait for warmer weather.

Right on cue on 1st May the Tree Spugs arrived and this year there have been a pile of them and they've stayed around. Maximum flock size has been 14 (recorded once) and 13 on one other occasion a week or so later. It may be that they left last night as none so far today, just when an attempt was to be made to ring some... so it goes. (They did return, or new ones arrived and one was present on Sunday and two on Monday.)


Tree Sparrows

And here's the info about their occurence since 2014. Prior to that we had a single long-staying individual that remained for the best part of three years having arrived one May.


Graphs taken from BirdTrack data.

Insect stuff to post later, including a very exciting beetle...

I'd put a water bucket in the pony field as when I went down to feed Blue during the wedding we went to he and Google had wrecked the electric fences and they were both in the one field with G apparently guarding the water. Three days later when things were sorted out I went to bring the bucket in and there was a Carabid in the bucket, sitting above the water, I stuck it in a pot. When I looked at this beast I was puzzled  it looked like a big Loricera pilicornis with no antennal hairs and I couldn't recall anything that looked like that. It sat in a pot for a week before I paid it due attention, it still puzzled me. Not surprising as it turned out to be Pelophila borealis, a Shetland/Orkney speciality with just a very few records elsewhere in Scotland and a record from Wales.

Somewhat damaged from my hauling it through the keys.




Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Evening walk

A mission to capture some snails for a colleague's lesson tomorrow resulted in some nice beetles including Bembidion tetracolum, Silpha atrata, an Elaterid that will require a bit of work but may be Hypnoides riparius and NFM the weevilLeiosoma deflexum. As well as a couple of Pterostichus melanarius and a Pterostichus niger.

Leiosoma deflexum

Hypnoides riparius

Also first hoverfly of the year, sheltering in the Wee Wood, Eristalis pertinax.


Monday, 29 April 2019

Weekend stuff

Get home on Friday from work and it's sunny and quite warm so sit down on one of outside seats, having a bit of a blether with Louise when I notice the Rooks are a bit agitated, mmmm what's that huge bird that they are pursuing across the field? By'eck tis an eagle. Get some details with the bins but it is soon out of view behind the neighbour's as it heads north. Sprint (that's an approximation, unfit 60+ year old sprint that would be more like an ungainly amble), around into the back garden over the gate (that's lying flat) and into the steading yard. There it is, now pursued by various gulls with geese scattering hither and thither. More half decent views as it heads for the moor but enough to get that it's a 2cy White-tailed Eagle - patch tick (and it was in the pan-listing square), nice.

We had a wedding to attend on Saturday and that took most of the day. A brief wander down the track did produce this though.

 Wooly Bear (Garden Tiger cat).

There was the moment at the wedding I went for a walk around outside and walked in with a micro-moth on my shoulder, it escaped in the gents and I had no pots, but I did have the macro camera - but that's a bit weird in the toilet maybe? Chickened out of flash photography in the wee room, it was a bit flighty anyway, so no id, darn.

Sunday had a slow start, the garden is still full of redpolls, a couple of those cold, dark Commons as well as the more normal Meally and Lessers. And I failed to get any half decent pix of any of them.  Moth traps to do (oh yes, I'd purposefully not drunk anything so that I could nip home and put the traps on). Traps were good except for the Tipula rufina that escaped without its photo being taken (included another Red Chestnut).

 Three of these Stenophylax pernistus (no gen det but confusion species do not occur here).

Red Chestnut

First Garden Carpet of the year.

Ophion sp (maybe, other genera are available) I have recorded Ophion parvulus here which does look like this superficially - these are tricky, will try a post on Moth Trap Intruders with some other angles. They parasitise Noctuid moths, quite large beasts. First one of the year.

Eventually we head to Palace and walk the beach first. I'm keen to try and find littoral carabids and whilst Louise was looking for groattie-buckies I was turning stones over at the high tideline. There were lots of this Staphy and they were quite photogenic. I didn't take a specimen though, however, thanks to Kerbtier.de I got cloesish and a post on UK Beetles FB page got a result.

Cafius xantholoma - NFM

There were various other bits and bats on the beach - the cow poo is now crawling, I resisted the temptation to put a large chunk of it in a bag - that would have been a week's work just to ID the Staphs (retirement job).

We headed back along the beach and then up on the cliff in the Marwick direction, it was calm and grey with the sun starting to come through. Sat down once we'd got a bit of height and scanned. These are the days when you know it's ideal for cetaceans but never see them. I have continued to fail to see a live Risso's Dolphin here, they are not uncommon. Anyway, today was a good day and as I scanned with the little scope a large black back with a mighty scythe like fin emerged from the deep. Over the next 40 mins or so we watched this small pod of Orca (perhaps four) apparently fishing just off the Brough of Birsay before they gradually headed round the corner and out of view.

The afternoon was spent finding the first carder bee of the year in the garden and photographing various (most probably unidentifiable) Dipterans.

I'm thinking the few dark hairs make this Bombus pascuorum.

Monday, 22 April 2019

Crane and C. latecincta

Here are some pictures that got missed off the other post, Yesnaby is a magic place so two visits in one day was no hardship.

 Crane at Yesnaby

 Brown Hare at Yesnaby

Later in the day we went back for a walk. The sun was shining and Chrysolina latecincta was showing well, I found six in the end.

Chrysolina latecincta is an Orkney speciality. It's found just at Yesnaby, along the cliff top where the vegetation has been eroded away. There are a couple of records for Unst in Shetland and it's also been found in salt marsh at Loch Etive.

Discus rotundatus was on the beach.

 The stone fence posts are a real feature, I especially like this row on the cliff edge.


Quite pleased with this image.

Imperial

So Friday afternoon, sitting in the sun in our wee (and very sheltered, the easterly continues to blow) flower garden trying again to shake off this lurgy I've had all holiday and I spotted a movement beyond my feet on the paving slabs. More by luck than judgement I grabbed a decent shot, Sitona lepidus I think. The last weevil I found, Parethelus pollinarius (confirmed by MG) turns out to have been found only once previously in the county, Houton in June 1981, despite my expecting it to be common. I think the Sitona is a quite common resident though. The lurgy prevented my attendance at the last OFC indoor meeting for the season, annoying as the talk would have been interesting, cetacean recording. Anyway it did mean I could put traps out which turned out to be fortuitous.

Sitona lepidus

The moth trapping went well with a nice surprise in the 20 watt.

Emperor Moth, female

She left us some eggs so I'll have a go at rearing those.

I'm catching plenty at the moment, limited species but lots of moths, mainly Hebrew Character but plenty of Common Quaker and Clouded Drab. Lots of Parsnip Moth from this trapping. Red Chestnut appears to be turning up occasionally, see later post.

 The Herald, NFS, and a lovely moth to boot.


The Herald was caught in the next trapping. I've not caught one here before and only previously seen them in winter roosts.

The Clouded Drab / Red Chestnut issue

Until SS had pointed out my mididentification last week I had been blithely ignoring Red Chestnut for years (maybe). I think the problem with early season Noctuids for generalist moffers like myself, and in this location with a limited species mix, is that it is far to easy to presume things, not be quite careful enough. I had not heard of other local moffers catching Red Chestnut another pitfall potential. So follows a few photos and please do comment I have labelled these with what I think these are and why, I could well be wrong. These two species are not supposed to be confusing, but I do find them so.

Clouded Drab

Quite bright chestnut colour but ocval and kidney fit CD.

Red Chestnut

Identified by Stewart and confirmed by the CR. Small circular oval and dark marks on the leading edge of the wing, a bit of a pale line can be seen across the fore wing at the front third.

Red Chestnut

Small round oval, dark marks on the leading edge of the wing, straight leading edge of the wing, pale line across at one third. I'm confident with this one, maybe.

 Not sure, Red Chestnut maybe?

Can't really see oval and kidney, wing edge looks straight though.


Another Red Chestnut, but oval looks wrong.

Straight wing edge,and other than the oval and kidney wing markings look good for Red Chestnut.

Comments very welcome either to the "Comments" below or via FB or email, thanks.

Friday, 19 April 2019

Rousay

I've got very behind with the blog as I've been out in the field and then identifying things, so I'm going to back-date a few posts, but this was yesterday. A lovely sunny day, a bit of a breeze but nothing too much. This had been the day I'd set aside for going to Eday, I'm glad I didn't do that as the Snowy Owl was elusive and not seen all day.

We walked through the village, through the Trumland reserve to the top of Knitchen Hill, then along the ridge to Blotchnie Fold, then down via Knitchen Loch and back to the pub for tea/coffee and cakes and the boat home mid afternoon.

Brinian village was full of birdsong when we arrived, including Goldcrest but possibly Blackcap as well. Bumblebees were frequent and a Small Tortoiseshell went by. First good find was an ant on the path not far from the entrance to the reserve (via the east path). Subsequently confirmed as Myrmica ruginodis, second record for Rousay I think.

Myrmica ruginodis (re-identified via iRecord)

Next I managed to find a bumblebee that stayed still long enough to be photographed, Bombus lucorum agg

Bombus lucorum agg

Along the top ridge I glimpsed Hen Harrier and Buzzard. There was Red Grouse, poo seen and bird heard - is this hedgehog poo on the grouse droppings?

Grouse droppings with Hedgehog poo maybe?

As I got towards the second (mighty) summit of Blotchnie Fold I came across a small pool with inverts in it. I'd been examining each of these as I'd walked across, as had the, by now, very muddy hound.

View from the top with one of the moorland pools.

Four pondskaters and a whirlygig beetle were somewhat unexpected.

Gerris costae (left) and Gyrinus substriatus (right).

The Gerris looks a lot better like this, Gerris costae, the moorland pondskater, not previously recorded for Rousay.

On the way down the hill I pounced on a Carabid beetle. This looked like Pterostichus nigrita but they are a tad hard so I took the specimen. P.nigrita is a difficult ID from P.rhaeticus requiring gen det, but on a fairly big beetle that isn't too tricky. Today I had the microscope and tools out and I'm fairly sure this is ok as P.nigrita.


Pterostichus nigrita, first for Rousay.

While I was about it I got the specimen from Hoy from last week and took a look at that too, also nigrita.

As we approached the pub a Green-veined White went by, my first this year and whilst drinking (very good) coffee and enjoying Simnal Cake in the garden Bombus terrestris was well seen. All in all a pretty successful day out despite missing Emperor Moth (target species) - mostly due to my having lost the pheromone lure over the winter.

Back home a check of The Shunan produced a Black-tailed Godwit, but no sign of yesterday's Swallow, and the moth traps went out, but just Hebrew Character, Common Quaker and Clouded Drab were caught.

On the bird front today, the Bramblings have gone but there are three redpolls, two Lesser and one Mealy.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Breckness, Stromness

Went for a walk at Warbeth yesterday and ended up at the 17th Century bishop's palace, Breckness House.










Back at the ranch the fields were being cultivated and seeded and this encouraged a large number of gulls to follow the tractor.




Today a walk near Skaill produced an Otter family, female with her two kits.


We'd never seen Otters there before in all the times we'd walked it. Also this very recently killed Shag.



Macrosiphum euphorbiae the potato aphid on our conservatory rose.