16/11/2014 A wood in south Lincolnshire.
Hmm, I have a lot to fit in. A mega ponk had been planned for a few weeks with J. Lamin, M. Telfer, R. Alder and myself for a few weeks, beetle twitching was the aim of the game and something I’d not done before mind does it count if I’ve already seen the beetle I’m attempting to twitch. With Row and me in the powerless car (a hill in Grantham that isn’t that steep required me to drop down to 2nd, yes 2nd… every other car I’ve had has powered up in 3rd) we headed through the mist hoping to find Platydema once again. I learnt a lot from the day, I’ll come to that after the species.
Edit – Just before hitting publish I noticed I didn’t mention that it really hammered down towards about 14:00 cutting short the beetling. It completely skipped my mind, it really was a good ponk! The reason for a lack of photos covering species is for this reason, if I had been better equipped this wouldn’t have stopped me. I shall be looking into waterproof ways of getting my camera out with out too much faff.
Species seen already on the list;
Fenugreek stiltball, Phleogena faginea
Platydema violaceum (only the one this time)
Raven, Corvus corax
Buzzard, Buteo buteo
Birch shield bug, Elasmostethus interstinctus
… see it listed… Platydema… get in! twice in one year taking my total of seen P. violaceum in the wild to 5 and Johns to around 20. I don’t mind saying but as ‘the Telf’ inspected the beetle he’d traveled to see, me and John exchanged a look, the look was that of relief and GET IN! It was a bit a drive and the goods were delivered. Probably less than 6 people alive have seen this beetle in Britain, in the wild and alive, and that is a nice feeling. Not a feeling of having one over on anyone else but knowing I and a few other have seen something really special. I can now begin the write up of mine and Johns experiences with this beetle.
Whilst coming down on finding the Platydema, post-platy blues I’ve come to call it, some other species new to myself were also found, pointed out, photographed and recorded of course. It was really life in the minuscule with most of the species being really small, like… really really small.
Blunt-tailed snake millipede, Cylindroiulus punctatus – 810, first find of the day and pointed out by Mark, common and distinctive and one I’ll be looking for on Brackenhurst whilst carrying out the saproxylic survey.
Tachyporus hypnorum – 811, an extremely small rove beetle that was from memory (see things learnt at the bottom of the post) found after sifting some deadwood. Common and widespread.
Trichophya pilicornis – 812, Notable B (NB), recorded in the area previously but I can’t seem to gain access to the NBN Gateway to find out by who and where. Another small rove that if I’m honest, won’t be able to point out again. Rove’s do my nut in at the minute and its something I’m going to have to get used to finding and identifying.
Cyclosa conica – 813, a fantastic spider up close and that’s saying something coming from me. It appears I am fine with little dinky spiders and if only all we’re as easy as this. This was found using the massive beating tray along with Diaea dorsata. Its conicle shaped abdomen makes it a treat to ID along with some pleasing scientific naming.
Tripe fungi, Auricularia mesenterica – 814, this was missed of the list and no replaces what was the pear shaped puffball in the list, that identification may have been wrong.
Crystal brain, Exidia nucleatum – 815, maybe the star of the show for me after P. violaceum. Well spotted by the Lamin and identified, interestingly it is not on the NBN Gateway for Vice Country 53, South Lincs. This will be followed up. As you can probably guess it looks a bit like a brain or more in my mind a bit like white gloopy Swarfega (other hand wash is available).
Tree slug, Limax marginatus – 816, one I should remember from now on with the two black markings down the mantel, a species I’ve come across before I’m sure.
Phloiophilus edwardsii – 817, Nationally Scarce (NS), a species John and Mark nattered about briefly before finding one for me and Row to peer at. No record of this in South Lincs on the NBN Gateway either but I do think John found his first last year. I’ll admit defeat on this, I don’t have any literature with this beetle in nor do could I find much online, all I can say is that is in my eyes a very attractive beastie – a top 20 fo’shaw.
Punctum pygmaeum – 818… what that… where… no way… that thing…. I spluttered and stumbled through some words as I was shown what might be Britain’s smallest snail, the name gives it away. Apparently quite common and very overlooked, I believe this popped out of what can only be described as powered deadwood after the final and fine sieve. It was honestly the size of a full stop, the smallest organism I’ve the smallest thing I’ve ever seen someone point out with the naked eye… professionals. No way on earth was I taking a decent photo of this.
Satellite, Eupsilia transversa – 819, brilliant moth that popped out along with P. violaceum and was nearly missed as it clung to the bark lying on the floor. The name is given because of the orange markings on the wings which resemble a planet with two moons, one of the more inventive yet very descriptive names given to a moth, some of them are diabolical.
Pipe club, Macrotyphula fistulosa var. contorta – 820, spotted up in a birch tree and then growing from a few twigs suspended in the same tree. Very distinctive looking and easy to put a name too, fortunately it wasn’t so high in the tree so I managed to get a decent photo of it. Really weird-looking, can’t really think of something like it and it was too high to get a feel of it.
Brown cup, Rutstroemia firma – 821, spotted by the Lamin on some oak twigs lying about the floor. It seemed quite unusual in the field, like hollow studs on stems (?) and a dull orange/brown. Yet another species missing from the NBN Gateway for South Lincs… it was turning out be turning into quite a day!!!
Ypsolopha ustella – 822, this and the following identified by the Lamin cap off the last of the species (unless I’ve missed any of course). This has been recorded in the Vice County before but it appears only twice and I can’t get down far enough to see where, Grrr… A tiny moth in-keeping with the theme of all things really small and in my eyes quite drab in pale shade. A common name I found was the variable smudge, hmmm.
Agonopterix heracliana – 823, widespread across Britain that can be found between Sept – April and the larvae between May and July (UK Moths).
Things I took from the day;
- Take better notes, learn how to spell or have the balls to ask what it was again, despite being told twice before.
- The beating tray I made was, well… in the words of Crocodile Dundee “That’s not a beating tray, THIS is a beating tray”. Mine is tiny and the point was made that if you’re knocking all the inverts off the vegetation, you might as well catch as many of them as you can.
- Don’t go and meet a pro and forget the hand lens, very bad ponkological skills that were possibly only saved by finding the beetle he’d come to see.
- Get a new pooter, sorry another pooter. I stood on the last plastic one. Larger glass one required.
- Get a sieve kit together, quite a bit of ponking can be done in the varying grades vegetation gathered and sifted.
I think that just about finishes the post, a quality day out in the field that has given me another burst of enthusiasm that should carry over until the new year.