Saturday 31 July 2021

Back from hols.

We went to Arran, as we have a few times before, and again stayed in our friends' house whilst they were away elsewhere.  I took the Heath trap with synergetic light and had a very busy time with moths, so many species that I am unfamiliar with, despite trapping at this site a few times in the past. I'll post the moths shortly(ish) and hopefully some kind readers will correct my identifications, some of which (at least) are likely to be somewhat wonky.

Going so far south there are many species that I just never see here, and of course more mammals. Badgers (almost nibbling our toes), Red Squirrels, bats (I forgot to take the bat detector) and Bottle-nosed Dolphins were stand out. I failed to identify a vole glimpsed a couple of times.

Red Squirrel through the kitchen window.

Not much on the bird front except excellent views of Golden Eagles on a number of occasions and Hen Harrier twice, not a species I've seen very often on Arran in the past. The Bottle-nosed Dolphins performed very nicely alongside the road as we drove for the ferry.

Common Sandpiper.

Being on holiday I took my wetsuit and there being a lack of boats, as our friends had taken their kayaks with them, I went in the water a bit, armed with a 20 quid Lidl snorkel and the TG-4.

Twin-spotted Goby, Gobiusculus flavescens.

Pollock fry, Pollachius pollachius.

Serrated Wrack and kelp.

Shore Crab.

Also got some images of Lesser Sandeel by wading around in the shallows. I found one injured one and had several goes at photographing the small shoals. I watched two bury themselves in the sand so quickly when they detected a threat; me.

Lesser Sandeel, Ammodytes tobianus. This would seem to be a safe ID although splitting the five UK species is a bit tricky.

So many other things to look at, photograph and identify, I was a bit overwhelmed. Fortunately perhaps, I wasn't distracted too much by hoverflies as they weren't much in evidence, probably due to the uncharacteristically scorching weather. We couldn't really walk much in the hills as it was just too hot. Going to Coirie-Fhionn Lochan, a favoured spot was hard work and Louise joined several other trampers by taking a dip.

Common Blue Damselfly on ? - identification of the plant appreciated, at the moment I can't seem to figure it out. (Water Lobelia, thanks Steve and Gibster.)

The water was full of tadpoles, frog I think, seem to have lost the photos. More later. Actually, Toad.

Tadpole, Bufo bufo.

Tuesday 13 July 2021

A walk with the camera.

 There is a lovely green lane two fields north of us. It is full of flowers and moths. Walking across the fields and along the green lane to the moor and back should take an hour or so, yesterday it took three hours.

Agriphila straminella.

There were thousands of these, they've just begun their main emergence. A bit of a swine to photograph as they fly at the slightest provocation. They are beautiful nonetheless.

Meadow Brown.

Another recent emergence and present in tens if not hundreds. Both these species were inflight at almost every footstep.

There were also lots of Middle-barred Minor, on one Hogweed there were five, probably 100 altogether.

Middle-barred Minor.

There were Silver-ground Carpet in abundance as well, and the first Celypha lacunana for the year and a few Magpie. 


Celypha lacunana.


I failed to photograph Common Blue, of which there were a few.

But with all the common species there were a few gems. Yellow Shell is not a moth I see very often but a rather large individual eventually was photographable.

Yellow Shell.

And I think this micro is Eudonia truncicolella, not the rarer E. lineola (happy to be corrected though, although the CR would want a gen det I think).

Reidentified by SG and SS as Scoparia ambigualis, big thank you.

There were these two micros, not the best images, which I've yet to work out. 

The first one is perhaps just a Timothy Tortrix seen from the side. But the second one is a challenge.

Timothy Tortrix maybe.

Unknown micro - possibly Aethes cnicana, thanks SS.

 Amongst all the moths there were a few other things, piles of the sawfly Tenthredo arcuata sl (possibly T. notha).

Tenthredo arcuata s.l. (T. notha perhaps).

The click beetle Hemicrepitius hirtus, identified by the antennae and the tiny fourth tarsal segement without a hairy pad.

Hemicrepidius hirtus.

In the interest of science I allowed myself to be bitten, twice....

Haematopota pluvialis.

Getting stuck in.

Both of these are females with the eye colour over the whole eye. You can see the antennal notch quite clearly on the second one and close-up. Males have the third antennal segement orange. It was a bit annoying for half an hour or so afterwards.

One of my favourtie things was around as well:

Amblyteles armatorius.

As well as this ichneumon there were a few Ophion sp. Yet again I'm pretty sure I saw Bombus jonellus, but no photos, so no proof. Other Bombus seen were pascuorum and lucorum s.l.

In amongst this I started to play with Google Lens. It was mentioned online the other day and there is a paper about apps for identifying things. Lens seemed to come out ok and as it is included in my Motorola I gave it a try. It is astonishingly accurate with plants, and truly hopeless with moths and other insects. On a good few occasions it came out with the correct plant identification as first choice, including things like False 0at-grass. However, the Tenthredo was identified as a Honeybee and Middle-barred Minor as a Pammene species, at least it got it to moth. The local plant recorder is about to be bombarded with my plant records which I have singularly failed to upload from "proper" photographs, sorry JC.

Plantago maritima.

Google Lens got Plantago maritima as first choice, well impressed. An interesting plant to find along the green lane, 8km inland.

Thanks to MS for mentioning Public Service Broadcasting in his blog, somehow escaped my radar. Blown away. I especially love this album.

But they're all good. Playing in Glasgow in November, very tempted to make the trip.

It is hard not to make comment about the football. Disgusting racism towards young players, and beating up our Italian guests. Let alone the laser incident and booing the Danish anthem. What is the matter with people? Actually, none of this surprises me, sadly. If you have any influence at work, or are a trade unionist, pressing for this very effective and inexpensive training by Show Racism the Red Card would be a good move.... - other training providers are available.

Thursday 8 July 2021

Retired (nearly).

I'm still officially in post until the end of the holidays in mid-August, but I don't really have to do anything. I pretty much emptied and tidied the office the other day, a week after the end of term. Check emails once a week or so. Time to get my head around what this means. I don't feel old anyway, well mostly not, work was getting to be a struggle, just having the energy in the morning and finding it hard to find the time to do the things I wanted to do as well as work.

One thing that vexes somewhat is what to do with what's in my head, the experience and knowledge, is it useful to anyone? Or is that just ego? Hard to know at the moment.

All this in my life has left the blog unwritten and friends, mostly, incommunicado. We've had visits from two lots of old friends, and I had dos to go to. Seeing old friends after so long was fun (and a bit boozy). The work dos were in retrospect a bit overwhelming. A couple of folk who I've worked with for years phoned and were very complimentary and kind. 

My new job is full-time wildlife stuff, maybe it's time to be old, radical and a pain in the arse (after all I was very good at the PITA at work as far as some of management were concerned, so I'm well in practise).

The notebook is filling up with data again as the moth traps kick out lots of interesting things. And searching with the camera has uncovered plenty. I really wonder why I didn't buy the Olympus kit before, the macro gear is stunningly good, but perhaps I wasn't ready to take the step from the TG-4 earlier. The Jackdaws and Rooks in the roost have just woken up, noisily, maybe a Grey Heron has tried to join them, they're not keen on that occurring.

If this is Celypha rivulana it will be new for the county, I think I have it right. No I didn't it is Phiaris schulziana, thanks SG.

I also found this by searching in the Rosebay Willowherb.

It was provisionally identified as Piniphila bifasciana (thanks BS), I'd initially wondered about a Cydia but I have had a wonder about Phiaris micana, BS is most likely correct, it's with the CR now. And eventually identified as Eupoecilia angustana,

The usual crowd pleasers have begun to turn up with a very nice Acleris bergmanniana today, although it failed to pose. This Gold Spot was fresh and showed off.

Gold Spot.

One project is to put all my species on to Flickr, an Orkney invert reference place. So I'm trying to standardise the "from the trap" photos a bit, some of these things look smarter on the grey of slate, no distractions.

On the bird front, The Shunan has plenty of Shelduck chicks, an eight and a three. A third brood of Shoveler have just appeared, a five. And I suspect the Teal have well grown chicks. We had a day on Hoy where I bumped into Quail, but I will try and post a retrospective of that day shortly.

Time to nip out with the torch and see if I can find anything, the Ghosts have been dancing...