Its time for a blog post about some of the fantastic things I’ve had the pleasure of getting my peepers on this and the past week. I’ve ticked off my most wanted carabid, most wanted spider, most wanted mammal alive and added a new longhorn to my lifer list. In short, the past week or so has been pretty epic.
This weeks post is powered by a punk band I’ve been getting into more and more the past month – Against Me!.
I received a message of the ponk Yoda a few weeks ago that simply read ‘new carabid down the fen’…. I waited but heard nothing more until I got home later that day and requested some more details. I wish I hadn’t asked as it was my most wanted carabid, the green tiger beetle Cicindela campestris. I was green with envy, nearly to the point that I didn’t want to speak to him for a day or two because I knew he would rub his sighting in! Now uni is out for summer, I’ve been helping out on his yard in the fens again. On the 8th of June while I was giving the van a much needed wash, he pondered down from the field with a grin. ‘I THINK I’ve seen the tiger beetle at the top of the field’. My jaw dropped, was this my chance to get my eyes and hands on what has to been one of Britain’s most awesome beetles!?
As you can tell from the photo it was! We headed up with JL still doubting what he saw maintaining that ‘it flew low, and certainly looked like it’ which was basically covering his back in case it wasn’t there or wasn’t even the beetle in question. Nearing the top of the field something took into the air and swung around coming strait at me… I swished the net and bagged it before letting out a fist pump, many an excited profanity and exclaiming to JL ‘GOT IT!’. After a few photos I took it back to where we found it and dobbed it out the pot before grinning like a Cheshire cat. An. Absolute. Stunner.
Similar to the above, he also messaged me around the same time about a white spider he spotted down the fen, Misumena vatia. Ever since purchasing the Collins spider book this stood out. While at work a week ago, we were checking the golden rod which wasn’t yet in flower. A yelp came from JL’s way, Misumena vatia was spotted. A fantastic looking thing, mostly white with bands of yellow and red spots. Why it chose to sit on a green leaf is beyond me, maybe it isn’t very aware of its own appearance.
The next new lifer on the list is also from the yard in South Linkisheer. Most of the hawthorn is just about over but a few bits are still showing well. On a lunch break I took my butterfly net (its never caught a butterfly in its life) and a large thwacking stick over to the last bit of hawthorn out on the margins of the field. Holding it underneath I beat the crap out of the flowers and peered into the net. A few Grammoptera ruficornis, a couple of Scraptids and… and… TETROPS!!! A tiny little longhorn but which was it, could it be the rarer T. starkii or T. praeustus. Which ever it was had to wait until I returned home to stick it under the microscope and which ever species was going to be a lifer. This one and the other that was beaten from the same hawthorn turned out to be T. praeustus. These are stunning longhorns under the scope, the only genus of longhorn in Britain with the eyes completely divided (Tetrops means four eyed). It is that small I can’t really get a decent pic of it!
While walking around the yard in the morning with Ruby the dog, we walked down the side of the birch trees facing the sun although the sun was no where to be seen. Sat on a leaf, Britain’s largest sawfly Cimbex femoratus was spotted. What a beast it is too, massive and with a set of chompers to match which aren’t seen in the below photograph. This was record 6,500 entered into iRecord and species number 1341 on the PSL (Ponk Species List).
One day in the past week while on dinner we headed out to Baston Fen to look for soldier flies as JL had got himself a bumper crop of lifers the week before. It was warm and the sun was out but the soldiers were thin on the hogweed. We spotted two, both new on my list. The all black Odontomyia tigrina and more colourful Stratiomys singularior. Maybe a visit next week will turn up some other species.
I’ve had three stunning looking bugs in the past few weeks. From the fen in South Lincs Eurydema oleracea the brassica bug, Gonocerus acuteangleatus the Box Bug and from Colwick Country Park in Nottinghamshire Coreus marginatus, the dock bug.
Lastly, while making our way to Baston Fen in the week JL piped up ‘ay, whats that shonking across the road… ITS A MOLE’. Shonking is a faced paced walk for those not in the know. I’ve never seen a mole alive although have check many dead ones for beetles! It was going at some pace, the only way I can describe it as swimming on concrete. I managed to get a good look at it out the van window as we swerved to avoid it becoming another dead mole I check for beetles.
Lots of other things have made it onto the list but time and space is limited… species recorded now stands at 1359 from 6639 records.