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.)

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