Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Beetling along

Snow and general unpleasentness on the weather front led me to look at the litter extractor and see what I've caught. Once bottled then identify, with Staphilinidae that's much easier said than done and with two of the specimens I made a mess of the ID, more embarrassing because I'd got one of the same species out a few weeks back. I need to make a Flickr collection for these, so I can remember what I've recorded. However, I'm reasonably confident about the Oxytelus laqueatus.

Oxytelus laqueatus - just one county record previously I think.

Looking at the record centre database there are records for two other Oxytelus both of which seem a tad unlikely, the NBN is out of date but I don't think it is likely to be that wrong, Oxytelus piceus, no certain records north of the Wash and Oxytelus sculptus no certain records north of the Humber.

Genus Quedius I'm informed and that looks right, checking here:

I really should have got these right, I thought they looked familiar. Rubbish photo, I must retake this.

Tachinus, probably rufipes.

Post to be continued, need to go and clean out the boiler....

Boiler cleaned, complaint to BBC continued (another story).

I did go out and find some things. In the snow on Saturday I found this snail, it is really rather small at 2mm, there was a little clusterof empty shells under a stone, at first I thought they were seeds of some sort.

 Columella edentula I think

If this is a correct ID this is a new, but likely, addition to the Orkney fauna. The NBN has this occurring in Caithness.

Tremella mesanterica

This small but colourful fungus was on a piece of dead gorse nearby, Yellow Brain Fungus.

Having struggled with Staphs I decided I'd better go and find something in the Wee Wood that I could identify. I've found Pterostichus strenuus there before, unfortunately I needed to take a specimen as this species does have some subtly different cogeners. 

I also found some Lithobius centipedes. I used to identify these years ago, but they are tricky, sometimes depending on seeing particular leg spines. The new FCS key is an improvement, with a nice comparison chart, but for this species pair it is still necessary to see the presence or absence of a particular hard-to-see spine on the 15th pair of legs. The species with the spine is Lithobius borealis. On this occasion I decided the leg spine was absent, so the identification is Lithobius melanops. L.borealis is a less likely species in Orkney, not previously found and the nearest records are over 100 miles south whilst L.melanops has been found in the county previously.

Lithobius melanops
I should get this checked though.

Some mammal sightings, an ermine Stoat on the track, but this time north of the Wee Wood, the closest to the house and garden I have yet seen one. Additionally, walking home off the hill on Sunday the hound and I disturbed five Brown Hares in one field.

I had heard mice again and this morning there were three House Mouse in the garage traps. But optimistically Spring is nearly here with Oystercatchers on The Shunan.

Follows gratuitous snow landscape pix.

The Shunan, frozen

 Hoy Hills from the garden Saturday morning.

Snow melting on the window - playing with the new flash diffuser for the Olympus Tough

 Looking east on the trackway

And looking west.

Looking south to Hoy from the northern track


Simon Douglas Thompson said...

The fascinatingly small

Alastair said...

I have something smaller... see final post Simon.

Gibster said...

Yet to find Lithobius borealis, they're all melanops here on Skye (so far) but I know exactly what you mean regards that hard to see spine. It really is very awkwardly placed, but a bit of jiggling around and you should be able to see the precise spot where it should be, were it present!

Alastair said...

Thanks Gibster, hunting for things today but no more centipedes. Time to set some pitfalls.