Tuesday 27 September 2022

Washing-up bowls.

I put a couple of washing up bowls out the other day, with water and a drop of suface tension breaking washing up solution in. I don't trap this way very often as it is lethal to the trapped, on the whole. Various hoverflies were caught, including Helophilus hybridus which I haven't seen here for a couple of years. These were all in the yellow bowl, as were the two new diptera for me Opomyza germinationis, a female, and Bibio lepidus, two males. Basically, yellow is generally good for Diptera and Hymenoptera and black for Coleoptera.


The black bowl yielded a single beetle, Agabus bipustulatus, which I'm pretty sure I've caught here before.

Agabus bipustulatus.

Bibio lepidus.

Opomyza germinationis, female + genitalia.

The yellow bowl also yielded a yellow and black Ichneumon which I expected to be Amblyteles armatorius, except it wasn't. Help suggested Diphyus sp and a web search got to the possibility of Diphyus quadripunctorius. It would be excellent if someone would take the specimen and identify it properly as it may be new for Scotland. Now identified as Exephanes occupator, there are just three records on NBN, one is near Perth, so not new for Scotland. (Details of the Perth record - https://www.bioimages.org.uk/html/r171348.htm?2).

Possible, Diphyus quadripunctorius. Reidentified as Exaphanes occupator, a male.

There are Goldfinch in the garden today, a family party of five or six. There was a large flock of Linnet and Twite knocking about yesterday, Twite now being rare on patch. A seawatch yesterday produced three Bonxie, including a likely 1cy, a Great Northern Diver and lots of Kitts, Gannets and Guillemots.

Sunday 25 September 2022

I fell down.

No blog post as I've been tied up with stuff, life stuff, going south and then preparing a talk for the Orkney Field Club. The talk was done and dusted on Friday, it was a "blended" affair, live at the St Magnus Centre and on Zoom. I'm not all that familiar with Zoom, having mostly used Teams during the pandemic. Anyway, battling with two laptops and various bits of unfamiliar IT gear did my head in a bit, but managed to get everything up and running before the 7.30pm start, with some stalwart online support. Unfortunately, we forgot to press the "Record" button; so it goes. The slides are on a new page on this blog.

I fell down, literally, on the beach at Warbeth, chasing a wind-blown, empty, dog shit bag. Fell down being an understatement, it was a "high speed" crash and roll, extraordinary. I've done something to my left hip as a result which is a tad uncomfortable. This added to the burnt off finger pads I had managed the other day; now that was painful. The fingers are healing fairly quickly now, I can type again fairly normally. (Note to self, wear gloves when handling cement.) I feel a tad battered.

I also fell down with this ID.

Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing.

I'm so familiar with this species but it was worn, no green on the thorax above the head, pale, and a month after I saw my last one. I wondered if it was a weird Ingrailed Clay, I had one south this summer that wasn't dissimilar. Online it was suggested that it was a long odds possibility for Langmaid's Yellow Underwing, Noctua janthina. I'd let it go, having eventually seen the orange on the hindwing. Whist it did look odd, I think my difficulty with Noctuids was closer to the reason for the misidentification, I need to factor in heavy wear and go with my instincts, a bit of over-thinking perhaps caused this ID error. I'd done a similar thing with a bug earlier in the week. Interestingly, N. janintha has apparently been proven by barcoding, there was doubt in some quarters that it was really a species, however, there is quite a neat costa feature that might be a more straightforward way of splitting the more awkward individuals from N. janthe. This might be useful in the future, that's if I can narrow the ID down more accurately!

The only other more interesting moth of late has been Red-green Carpet. It wouldn't let me get an upperwing shot, so this will have to do.

Red-green Carpet.

Further incompetence led to me damaging my Kowas. I left them out in the rain for a few hours. They should be waterproof but it was a fair downpour. Anyway, Kowa's repair system appears to be pretty efficient, and being six years old they could do with a service. I have my old Nikon HGs which are still very serviceable if a tad heavy.

It's been a fair old week.

New bird for the patch, Garden Warbler, indeed, possibly there were two in the garden. Nearly thirteen years to get a Garden Warbler.... There have been Goldcrests on a couple of days, an Osprey again, this time at Loch of Boardhouse, and a female Marsh Harrier at Bosquoy where there are big numbers of ducks. Swallows have been regularly into three figures in the late afternoon as birds go to roost, but most noticeable has been a big increase in crows. Up to 14 Hoodies, two Carrion Crows and a single hybrid in the last week. 

Carrion Crow (or dark hybrid) with Hoodie in the background.

A strong north-westerly is brewing, just about right for Leach's if I get my act together tomorrow morning.

Saturday 10 September 2022

Autumn stuff.

There was a fall here. Easterly winds and bad weather for days eventually produced a drop of birds. This was mostly apparent out on the islands, although at Birsay yesterday there were a lot of Wheatears.

Northern Wheatear.

Usually, if something of this is going to occur on the West Mainland, especially inland on the patch, it will be a day or so later. I'm keeping an eye on the hawthorn hedge for a shrike.

At Birsay, an Osprey went through, putting everything up.

Osprey and pursuers.

In the last week I've had two Convolvulous Hawk-moths and two new micros, as previously mentioned Ancylosis oblitella may be new for Scotland. The other new one, which I needed help to identify, was Matilella fusca which is NFM and I don't believe is very frequent here. The trap's out again tonight, but clear skies and a full moon are not especially promising conditions.

Convolvulous Hawk-moth, number 2, lower photo is just before it flew off this evening.

Matilella fusca, thanks to SS, BS and UKMothID for the identification.

Lastly, an unwelcome resident at the bottom of our road.


Despite a good number of traps nearby and a few years of effort, Stoats still live along our road.

Friday 9 September 2022

Travel, moth, knackered!

Catch-up post, all a bit random.

A visit to Glasgow to empty our storage and send things on their way south and then bring the rest back here. Elder daughter lived four years in Glasgow, three(ish - covid) on Sauchiehall Street, opposite the burnt out Mac. Now gone to the Smoke (where I was born). Oddly one of her grannies was born and brought up in Glasgow. A certain circularity to that. Younger daughter held the fort whilst we were away, looked after the mostly elderly pets but she's back south today to stay with friends before heading to third year.

The ferry crossing going out was rather good with plenty of Harbour Porpoise, including one in Scrabster Harbour, good numbers of Risso's Dolphin, a Minke Whale and best of all a Basking Shark. No birds to speak of and not one skua seen on the crossing (just two Bonxies on the return run).

So in the last month I've not got much field work done, what with girls here and then back and forth south, I'm lagging on the 365 challenge. It won't be impossible to catch up but other life stuff is also in the offing, I'm not all that optimistic about adding enough species but, I'm enjoying the trying, and I'm really not obsessive about it...

Over the last few weeks I've found a few plants, mostly common things that I'd just ignored in the past, things like Corn Spurrey and Babbington's Orache.

Corn Spurrey.

Babbington's Orache.

I'd always thought the oraches were not doable, however, it appears that nearly all of them on the stoney West Mainland beaches are Babbington's, even though many of them superficially appear to be different in appearance; stem colour and leaf colour, shape and texture seemingly have a range. Anyway, knowing what something is makes it a lot easier to identify, er.

 The garden was full of Red Admirals before we went away, I counted 32 on one day. Just two Small Tortoiseshell, although there had been a small passage of them at Marwick a day or so earlier with one every minute or so, heading south.

Red Admiral.

The light trap has been yielding a few interesting things, the usual autumn suspects but finally, after 12 years of trying a Convolvulus Hawk-moth deigned to sit in the mouth of the trap, just under the synergetic circle. I have seen this species a few times in the past, being shown them or finding a dead one on the beach at Dungeness years ago.

Convolvulous Hawk-moth.

I'd not found my own before though. There's been quite an influx into UK of late, and a good few in Orkney so not perhaps such a surprising capture.

Ancylosis oblitella, (rather rubbish pix, but I have the beastie in the fridge to try again).

I think it is this species, if it is it will be new for Scotland (chances are I've got this wrong, surely).

Apparently, I've got it right. The specimen has to go to the CR, tomorrow's job, but thanks to SS, BS and UKMothID for confirming my initial ID.

Here's a better image.

Ancylosis oblitella.