My other mess up was with this tiny weevil. I recognised that I had found it before. Unfortunately I hadn't put it with my Flickr collection, I need to be a bit more conscientious about doing that. So, thinking the rather hidden antennae were straight I headed off down the Apion road. And then got stuck. Going through all of Mark Gurney's excellent photos on his Flickr site (what a brilliant resource, https://www.flickr.com/photos/84259756@N05/albums especially when used with his guides, here https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B008cp9g-Pm8fmx2aE5JUXpkX0czQ2F1bWtJZWZJb1JxM2JLM0djMi1Ea2RWUzluMHNGVGc?fbclid=IwAR3-W0F4E7eSiFuvnwrgGL9lGJvoFrVzSpoJGuHWjW8qXz5kHiRllqOgpQY ) I became increasingly frustrated that although I knew this was a common species I couldn't find it. Eventually I posted on the FB page and of course, it wasn't an Apion (thanks MF). Looking more carefully at my photo I could eventually see that the antennae that I had tried to tease out from beneagth the beast were indeed not straight.
Leiosoma deflexum - not an Apion. The numbered intervals are mm, it is tiny.
A common and widespread weevil of Ranunculus species.
Following this sort of mess up its important to regain confidence. A bit of digging in the garden, moving a bit of carpet - weed suppresent - and out popped what may well be the third county record of Amara
aenea, (oh no the day got worse, wrong again! However, I did then redeem the situation by getting it right ovata/similata, I favour similata but could be wrong, and bonus, not previously found in the county either) both the other records were found within 10m of this one.
aenea, ovata/similata slightly tricky to id.
A lot of the Amara look superficially very similar and can be tricky but I think all the relevant criteria can be seen from this photo, size c7mm. So I could let it go (but I do have a previous specimen). Misread the below, it obviously has a scutellary pore but I understood it incorrectly for some weird reason.
Also under the carpet a common but welcome Pterostichus niger. A species that has occasionally confused me in the past, from P.melanarius, but pronotom shape is a very good guide.
Confidence a little restored - or not, it all gets worse, see below..
I am trying to get some focus stacking to work using my digital microscope. The Olympus T4 does this automatically, the three beetles above are all focus stacked images, it works fine with live beetles when they stay perfectly still as Carabids in a pot often do. However, sometimes the T4 isn't the right tool for the job, unfortunately the Celestron didn't come with focus stacking software and the depth of field is pretty shallow. Photoscape X is a free tool that includes this. I use Photoscape 3.y to process all my images but the jump to X looks like a bit of a learning curve. However, I think I need to do this as I'm really struggling to get good enough images. Below are stacked images of Geodromicus nigrita from the T4, demonstrating its (or my) limitations.
Geodromicus nigrita - new to Orkney.
This landed on me at the stables on Thursday evening and with a bit of dextrous manouvering I managed to get it off my cycling glove and into a pot without losing it. It is tiny and black, and the T4 struggles with that combination often. The image below is with the Celestron, unstacked. But it would be easy to produce the range of images just need the software glue. There are good Youtube guides from the Photoscape folk so hopefully I should be able to learn to do this.
Geodromicus nigrita - hopefully I can get this confirmed.
I look at other folks' images online, there are some especially brilliant photographers out there consistently producing amazing images, however, I think that a permanent studio type set up with lights and tripods etc is required, I am assembling and dissembling my kit all the time. Ideally the FugifilmT3 with a macro lens, extension tubes/revering rings and some lights and diffusers would be the business for me but I would need to have a permanent set up. The cost is a bit scary. So I think I will try to improve what I do with what I've got. I wonder if a decent close-up lens to put on the Canon might help a bit though (CanonGX3) with the field photos. One problem with the T4 is the dreaded purple spot, a known issue, and still is with the T6, you have to work around it but it is very annoying, the Leiosoma above doesn't show it, but last week's Otiorhynchus porcatus does. Yes, you can process this out, hopefully Photoscape X might help with this.
Slug problems, yes they have started on my corgettes but I don't really mean that. On one of the local FB groups some photos were posted suggesting an ID of Arion vulgaris, an uncommon beast nationally and not recorded here. I had also taken some photos that afternoon and they also led me in that direction. But that seemed a bit unlikely. I posted on a national FB page and was given help, dissection suggested. I had another look at the slugs in question and found that actually, although they don't want to rock (Arion ater usually rocks back and forth if you stroke it) these are most likely Arion ater.
Arion ater individual 1
Arion ater individual 1
Arion ater individual 1
Arion ater individual 2
Arion ater individual 2 on left.
I'm hoping this little guy is Arion intermedius. (But it isn't, wrong again.) Arion subfuscus I think.
Here's another at another location with Deroceras reticulatum in the background - feeding on squashed worm sp....
Lastly on my identification rambles another battle with bumblebees. You would think that these should be easy, wrong, complete swines to id here in Orkney. Anyway, these two are right.
Top two Bombus terrestris queen, a species that has become common here in the last few years.
Because it was huge, I couldn't get a picture of the face unfortunately to nail it, Bombus hortorum queen.
Bombus lucorum s.l. have been emerging from our garage but I've only got rubbish pictures. They are an aggregate of three species with B. cryptarum believed to be the predominate species from the species aggregate prevalent here but laboratory analysis required maybe to be certain.
More of these this year, management regime is slowly increasing the diveristy of wild flowers in our Orkney Vole reserve, Cardamine pratensis.
Finding a new species of tree on the patch seems unlikely but today I walked right into the corner of the patch and there at the end of the line of trees along the burn by the bridge was this.
I think it is Alder.
Leaves look like Alder anyway.