Tuesday 18 May 2021


I went to Glasgow. Had to go for family reasons.

Spent a lot of time tramping around Kelvingrove Park. Saw Tree Bumblebee (rubbish photo) and Orange Tip (worse, no photo).

 Got home for £1, and that was the booking fee. It did take 14 hours tho'. Benefit of being older.

Herring Gull, Aberdeen.

 Huge numbers of Sandwich Terns off Aberdeen as we left. Interesting discussion about hedgehogs, amongst other things, on the boat.

Tuesday 11 May 2021


I should make an effort to add up all my species, I won't remember some of them. I wonder if I can count all the things I extracted and then cultured from food when I worked briefly for Dewhurst, I probably can't remember too many of them. That's scraping the barrel.

It was a good weekend for species though, including a new moth Agonopterix ciliella, which I had to dissect for the ID, but it looks ok, 3 or 4 lines in the cilia at the base of the hind wing. Look at the folded over bit in the pic.

Agonopterix ciliella.

Thanks to SB for helping me see what I couldn't before he pointed it out. It was on the kitchen window, not in the trap, but it may have been the one that escaped me a few minutes earlier which I found on a step.

I did trap another Red Chestnut and four Hebrew Character. Also, whilst wandering around with the torch I found a very smart shiny, wee beetle on one of the trees by the trap. It was small, less than 4mm.

Salpingus planirostris.
 It looks like a weevil, to trick the unwary, but it isn't one but a Salpingidae. There appears to be one previous county record, there may be more. In the past I've found its congener S. ruficollis, nearby at Binscarth Woods, by the same method, searching trees at night with a headlight.

The photos are probably at the limit of the set up really, and I didn't attempt the focus stacking as I kept the beast alive to release. OM5 60mm macro with extension tubes, natural light. I guess I could get another set of extension tubes...

I caught a few things in the yellow washing up bowl at the end of April, my version of a colour tray trap. Mostly Staphlinidae, I haven't gone through them yet but the one larger one appeared to be Tachinus rufipes, almost certainly I expect. Anyway, in there was one non-Staphy. It was tiny, about 1.5mm. I thought it was Leonidae, an awkward crew, but it wasn't keying out there. After a lot of frustration, especially as the definition is way beyond my microscope I managed to get a couple of half decent images and I asked on FB. MF and CW quickly responded and got me right. I went back to the family key, I just had had too many doubts and not persevered sufficiently, I'd been on the right track, Cryptophagidae, not knowingly seen that family before. I'd been told the genus and possible species and Mike Hackston has a key to Atomaria so I keyed it through, again, best as I could. As suggested Atomaria lewisi was the correct answer.

Atomaria lewisi.

At 1.6mm this is beyond what is sensible with a macro lens and extension tubes. This animal has a fascinating history. From UK Beetles website, "This species is native to the eastern Palaearctic and Oriental regions; it is generally common through central Asia to the far east of Russia, China, Japan and Korea and extends south into Northern India, it was first recorded from the west in the 1930s when specimens were found in a domestic garden in south east London and since that time it has spread through much of central and eastern Europe, extending north beyond the Arctic Circle in Fennoscandia. During the 20th century it also became established in the United States and Canada, where it now seems to be widespread, although it has only relatively recently been recognized as such, having previously been known as A. curtula Casey, 1900. Beyond this the species is sporadically recorded throughout the world, it is sometimes described as cosmopolitan but as yet seems to be established only in the northern hemisphere." https://www.ukbeetles.co.uk/atomaria-lewisi. New to me and by the look of the NBN it may be new to Orkney.

Recent birds have included Sand Martin, Tree Sparrow, Arctic Tern and a Chiffchaff singing in the garden. The Arctic Terns have returned to nearby Loch of Bosquoy, the one over The Shunan headed back in that direction.

Tree Spug.

Surprise Gannet flew through, from kitchen on Saturday p.m. First other than an injured one for the patch.

On Monday  evening we watched some Tradfest, had to buy tickets. After the battle to get the technology to work, we had to watch on the laptop and not the TV as I surrendered to the internet gremlins. Music by Mike Vass and Mairearad Green and a lecture by Karine Polwart. The Mike Vass Trio album In the Wake of Neil Gunn is a personal and family favourite, so this was a must see. Karine Polwart has made some very interesting music in the past. She was due to talk about women's oppression but instead, talked about song, music and a deep connection to the environment. This was a bit of a coincidence as reading with a class at work I'd picked up Greta Thunberg's book. Anyway, she started off by talking about, and singing (with her extraordinarily brilliant voice) Rabbie Burns' poem Westlin' Wind, not one I'm familiar with. It's worth a look, it could be an anthem for the ending of driven grouse shooting (well partly, it is also a love song). Karine also recommended Dick Gaughan's album, Handful of Earth. That took me back, I remember vaguely (perhaps) seeing him in a small upstairs room in a pub in York. Whatever, it's an album worth a listen, radical stuff. 

Both due to be included in the neglected 104 when I get a moment.

We have also watched:

(It's a film as well as a book, and a lot of other things besides.)

Wednesday 5 May 2021

Dippin', undippin'

 We were away for much of the weekend, to Dundee. We managed a visit to the V&A and quite by accident walked into its exhibition about Rave Culture. We didn't have tickets for the pay section, another visit required for that but I was much taken by Vinca Petersen, A Life of Subversive Joy, a journey from 1989 to 2012. There was an interesting filmed lecture as well but unfortunately I photoed the wrong caption so I'm not sure who it was by but referenced the miners strike and other aspects of the late 80s political situation (and we thought that was bad...). A criticism V&A, turn it up. It's not music that makes a whole lot of sense played at conservative volume.

The only good camera is the one you have with you... Olympus TG4.

We watched the BBC film Beats a few weeks ago and I have a fondness for Eden (no not the rubbish movie the good one about house music culture).

I've been banging on about albums by Bicep and Pinka is My Name for a few weeks now. Both listened to several times on the long boat journey home. 

On Sunday, whilst away, a message came through about a Spoonbill not too far down the road from home at Loch of Banks. It would be an Orkney tick, so on Monday I went for a look and dipped. I tried Loch of Sabiston and failed to find it there, further dip, I gave up.

So, it was a very nice surprise to find the beast on The Shunan this evening. As I turned in to our road I could see five large white blobs, thought, unusual, as there are usually either two or four Mutes on the water. Stopped, looked with bins, Spoonbill. The video is a bit better than these dire images but I'll need a tad more bandwidth to get it posted. Patch and I km sq tick.



Not many records of Spoonbill in the county I think, although they have bred. When I got back up to the house it had gone to roost and couldn't be seen from the garden. I struggled from the house as well, even upstairs and was slightly concerned I wouldn't get it on the garden/from the house list. However, reckless leaning out of our upstairs bedroom window resolved the issue. Eventually it woke up again and came into view from the kitchen. I have a feeling Spoonbill is a find tick as well.

Other birds today, a Bonxie and two Arctic Skuas causing mayhem with the breeding waders. There were a good lot of Swallows over The Shunan and a single Sand Martin. At least 5 Lesser Pols present but no sign of the Mealy.

I've mentioned this recently but Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders and LSO new album Promises is an extraordinary piece of music. I played it several times whilst on the boat trip home, otherworldly.

Clearly on a bit of a cultural bender we bumped into a BBC programme about Ivor Cutler whilst waiting for the boat out on Friday night. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000vghy well worth a listen.