Tuesday 25 January 2022

Macrosiphum aphids, the 365 challenge and some books.


Macrosiphum rosae, Rose Aphid (or maybe not). Macrosiphum euphorbia (thanks RD).

I'm having a few doubts about this ID now and wondering if these are just M. euphorbia, the Potato Aphid which I think I've found on the roses in the conservatory previously. These Macrosiphum aphids are a bit confusing. These don't quite fit with the images on influentialpoints. It could be that there is more than one species here, a not uncommon issue with aphids. Anyway added in the 365 challenge but I might have to edit again. 

I finally nailed this woodlouse, the commonest apparently but getting the ID to species is a little tricky. The microscope proved three ocelli.

Trichoniscus pusillus.

This old and damaged shell found in the Wee Wood is from an aquatic mollusc, but it does also venture on to land. I was looking under stones and in the humus layer for slugs etc. 

Galba truncatula.

Arion distinctus.

I originally identified this as intermedius, kindly corrected by CduF.

I've been having a look at a few mosses again and borrowed the British Bryological Society book from the library. It is a very nice book which I shall purchase shortly, it's available from the society itself.

£30 from the society, well worth getting.

I've recently purchased the Seaweeds of Britain and Ireland, it's a Seasearch publication, their other books look interesting if I get more into the marine thing.

Well worth £15.

I wasn't so impressed with the Collins Coastal Wildlife field guide, but Louise liked it. I'm preferring the Hatcher and Trewhella Rockpooling as my seashore ID anything and everything book.

Good value at a tenner or so.

Shelduck wars have broken out onThe Shunan with another drake appearing. The drake of the newly resident pair defending the territory robustly, weirdly aided by a Great Black-backed Gull. Red-breasted Merganser was added to the year list for the patch. And Hen Harriers have been very apparent, a male seen a couple of times this morning, I think the same one, a ringtail in the garden this afternoon. This after four ringtail sightings on Saturday. A male Sparrowhawk tried a neat attack on the front feeders today popping over the kitchen roof, but the spuggies were safe in their honeysuckle tangle.

Not counting the aphid, I'm on 27 new species since 24/12/2021.

Friday 21 January 2022

Raptors, rain, squally.

 Not keen to venture out this morning but the hound required walking. A two coats morning for sure. To make matters worse Louise had taken the car down to the pony and I'd left the Kowas in it. The Nikons required a bit of a clean, but they're still a functional pair of bins, I didn't bother with a camera. 

Woodpigeons clattered out of the trees. Then minutes later a male Sparrowhawk.

The Curlews across at Loch of Bosquoy were bothered and after a minute or so I located the botherator, a Peregrine which was trying hard to seperate one off the flocks. A couple of times it forced a bird out but, from what I could see, without making a successful kill. 40 odd Golden Plover whooshed past me in the field, also panicked by the raptor. 

I wandered back up the hill, stopping at the Wee Wood to collect a bag of litter for extraction. The last attempt had not been successful, producing just a couple of mites and a Linyphiidae which I wasn't going to attempt to ID. I went for the ditch this time, leaf litter and scraped a bit of soil in to the bag as well.

Up the hill, looking at the house, mass panic from the feral pig's, everything flying around, but something is quicker, sharper, scorching round the trees, and I just get enough of a glimpse of the female Merlin before she's behind the house and off. So a few more species for the year. Expected but nonetheless good ones. 

I've not seen Shortie yet this year, but Louise had one yesterday, caught in headlight glare at the bottom of our road.

Yesterday I did my WeBS, the forecast is not great for the weekend. It sometimes feels like a bit of a chore but in decent weather yesterday it was entertaining enough.

Counting Bosquoy some Whoopers sailed close. An early Oystercatcher was of note.

I moved on to Loch of Sabiston, more of interest with a pair of Pintail. Another lone Oystercatcher. And then, as I was about to leave, a Little Egret flew across the loch and landed on the near shore.

An astonishingly excellent photo of Little Egret. Loch of Sabiston is a bit of a hotspot for this species, but it's a while since I saw one there. What is required is one on The Shunan, or at least on Bosquoy.

More visits to the Brough of Birsay causeway have produced more species for the one new species a day project.

It was particularly nice to find live animals of Grey and Painted Top Shells, not ticks but good finds.

Grey Top Shell, Steromphala cineraria.

Painted Top Shell, Calliostoma zizyphinum.

The new things were all seaweeds, or lichens.

I've allowed myself the two lichens because in the past I've confused them and beeen unclear between them. I'm not sure I realised there were two species. I think in the past they were both Verrucaria species but the taxonomists have been playing.

Hydropunctaria(Verrucaria) maura.

Verrucaria mucosa.

Then a few new seaweeds.

Chondrus crispus, Irish Moss.

Cladophora rupestris, probably.

I think I need to do some microscopy to prove the Cladophora, so I can't have that, yet. However, the good news is that last week's Corallina officinalis seems to be ok.

Dichyota dichotoma, Forkweed.

Ascophyllum nodosum, Egg Wrack, I think.

Not really sure about this one. And I was hopeful that this anenome was something different but I think it is just Beaded.

Beaded Anenome.

So, I've properly recorded two molluscs which I'd already counted, a couple of new seaweeds plus the Coral Weed, and two lichens. Five more species.

New species from Xmas Eve, 24.

Sunday 16 January 2022

The Brough of Birsay, Snow Bunts and Fieldfares.

We went over to the Brough of Birsay Friday. We hadn't checked the tides first, something of an error, so I was a tad nervous whilst we were out there especially as someone wanted to tramp all the way around and someone else wanted to linger and take videos of the sea. In fact we had tons of time but there were moments when it was slightly nerve wracking. Six Snow Buntings flew over us and Common Hermit Crabs and a Common Starfish were seen from the causeway. In the still conditions there were interesting Diptera by the slipway as well. A Painted Top Shell was found on the beach. Unfortunately, the photos were pretty rubbish, I hadn't taken the underwater camera and I struggled to correct the through the water glare (polarising filter now on order).

On The Shunan there were a pair of very early Shelduck. They seem to be turning up earlier and earlier.

It was calm Saturday. Checked the tide timetables and double checked. Tons of time. The conditions were not quite so good, a bit of drizzle and an increasing westerly wind meant that the Diptera were not going to show.


Not so calm - me!

Computer playing up massively due to a failed Windows Update, quelle fucking surprise. This has happened before. Anyway, I seem to have some semblance of a working machine now, at 3pm having spent 5 hours arsing around with Windows and CCleaner. 

Saturday, 85 Fieldfare appeared in the rookery, in the stubble field just beyond the garden, and some just about in the garden itself, there was a single Redwing with them.

Fieldfares x85.

And there were a pair of Pintail on The Shunan along with more than 100 Teal, the usual sub-50 Wigeon and some Mallard.

News broke of a Snowy Owl performing rather well on Westray and 8 of the Glossy Ibis, or some new ones, (re-)appeared. If these things are still there next week I could be tempted, it is a very long time since I've seen a Snowy Owl (Fetlar) and although I've seen a few Glossy Ibis, they used to roost at Stodmarsh in my Kent days, and I have seen one in Orkney, it's kind of tempting. I might take a car though.

 Ha, anyway, the important stuff. New species. I spent all of the time on Saturday paddling about on the Brough of Birsay causeway. I tried very hard to string the wee Anapagurus hyndmanni hermit crab, but it was just string. Careful examination of the photos showed they were all the common Pagurus bernhardus. I can count that as a new species as I'd no prior knowledge of the identification issues. I also found one inside a Painted Top Shell Calliostoma zizyphinum, so I'll now iRecord and claim the shell.

This is a small one I tried to string, A. hyndmanni has one larger than the other white claw.

Pagarus bernhardus, Common Hermit Crab, in a Common Periwinkle shell.

Crab eats crab. Common Hermit Crab grabbing a deceased Carcinus maenas.

P. bernhardus in Painted Top Shell.

Painted Top Shell with an intruder.

I photographed the Common Starfish, more successfully this time. I can't count that as new as there are no confusion species.

Asterius rubens.

I had hoped for a new barnacle species but these pinky/grey ones are just a different coloured Semibalanus balanoides it seems.

Semibalanus balanoides.

And this pink crusty stuff is hard to get to species so:

Lithophyllum sp - Pink Paint Weed - I think.

However, I decided that I could have these few seaweeds that I've not recorded before.

Corallina officinalis, Coral Weed. (Probably can't count this as a tricky ID with various confusion species.)

Halidrys siliquosa, Sea Oak.

Polyides rotunda, Discoid Fork Weed.

If any of these are wrong corrections are very welcome. I've a seaweeds book arriving next week, so hopefully more species to come..

I get confused between Bladder Wrack and Egg Wrack but I think this is Egg Wrack. Bladder Wrack, thanks SG.

Fucus vesiculosus.

I can't have either of those as new, I've IDed them before.

And I don't know what this is....

?, suggestions welcome. Serrated Wrack to the right, I know that one.

? close up. Perhaps and animal and not a plant... (thanks SG). I think that's correct SG, Secriflustra securifrons - Square-end Hornwrack a Bryozoan.

There have been a couple of aurora evenings of late but cloud as well and although you could see something was going on, bright northern sky it was obscured by clouds (crafty Floyd reference).

However, it was quite warm yesterday evening before the wind got up and there were 18 Winter Moths around the house, including this pair in cop. Pink-feet were flying around as I searched for the moths.

Male and female Winter Moth.

The pheremone traps and some pheremones arrived yesterday. It will be a few months before I can use them but I will be mega excited when (note the when) I catch moths in them!

Still more winter to go and time for some beetles shortly I think.

Days - 24. New species since Xmas Eve - 19 (there is a slug, a worm and a few things pending). I'm running a bit behind though.

Monday 10 January 2022

Barnacles, birds and some big waves.

I'd naively thought that a barnacle was a barnacle, no way! I did know that there were goose barnacles and then the other sort, the tiny white crusty things which I now know are called acorn barnacles, they do not look like acorns one bit. Anyway, I discovered through wandering around marine websites and looking in my seashore books that there are quite a few species of these "acorn" barnacles. There's a species list of all the barnacles and further information here - https://www.glaucus.org.uk/Barnacles.html#Species

Semibalanus balanoides.

Pretty sure this is the same as there are six plates.

There's a very useful talk to aid identification here - https://www.therockpoolproject.co.uk/barnacle-identification/  The illustrations are especially useful. Despite Ian Smith's excellent photographs which you can find via both these links I find the simple line drawings the most helpful aid to ID. I had thought that goose barnacles were molluscs, wrong, all barnacles are crustacea. They have very wacky life cycles so are worth reading about.

So I've added one more species to the "new" list and there is the potential for a good few more. Waiting for a combination of decent weather and a nice low tide.

On the new species and bioblitz front I have leaf litter in a seive in the conservatory. Hoping for some beetles and springtails, we'll see.

Deroceras invadens.

I got some easy species for the bioblitz, but I missed the springtail that is behind the slug. It's a rubbish image anyway but I'm fairly sure that springtail is identifiable, research required, and perhaps a specimen as that will be new to me. I refound the snail I got at the end of last year, photographed a number of lichens I know and mooched about a bit.

Balea sarsii.

Ramalina fraxinea.

Winter Moth, found under a stone in the wall.

A birding tramp on Saturday afternoon led to adding a selection of birds to the year list, mostly down at Loch of Bosquoy. This time I did find the Blackwits, there were three, also a Slav Grebe was nice, they're not especially frequent on Bosquoy. A drake Goosander was again present. I've also been to the Durkadale crow roost a couple of times. The first visit produced 162 Hoodies (presumed, it was actually too dark to pick out any hybrids or Carrion Crows). That visit also turned up an elusive raptor, I suspect it might have been a Rough-leg but I just didn't get a decent enough view of it. There were also two Common Buzzards and a Sproghawk. The next visit, yesterday, and there were 142 Hoodies, one Carrion or dark hybrid and a Rook. No R-lB but Common Buzzard and Hen Harrier. I do like the crow roost and in recent years I've neglected it. I'm trying to visit Loch of Bosquoy at least once a week and I should try to do the roost once a week as well, it's not far away. No bird photos it was too dark.

Yesterday was a lovely sunny day. We headed for Marwick and were surprised by the huge waves pounding the Choin. Marwick is approached by a long straight road and when the sea is huge it looks inevitable that the water will come flooding over. At high tide it had broken down the wee sea wall in places.

 I took hundreds of photos and ended up with a few I was quite pleased with. 

Finally, we walked up to the Kitchener Memorial. A controversial monument but perhaps nowadays more acceptable as it is now partially encircled by a monument to the ordinary seamen who list their lives when the HMS Hampshire was sunk.

Kitchener Memorial with Jackdaws.

New species from Xmas Eve 2021 - 15 with three more pending confirmation.

Wee Wood bioblitz - 16 species. (Previously, excluding birds, I've recorded 230 species at the Wee Wood, in the 100m sq. I think there will be 20 bird species to add to that, I'll need to look at my records.)