Fresh of the PSL meeting in Norfolk at Holkham Pines, I’ve spent the day going through the bits and coming down from the great sightings and stunning lifers new on the list. Before getting to it, a little re-cap from the middle of the week with another soldier fly and a moth new to the list.
This evenings post is powered by The Deftones, The Misfits and of course some NOFX.
On Thursday me and the ponk Yoda headed over to Baston Fen to have a mid work shonk about the place. There was so much activity on the hogweed along the edge of the woodland it was hard keeping track of everything. Two new lifers came from the day.
Oplodontha viridula was in good numbers and posed for a few photos. Then, Lambo spotted a moth he didn’t recall, a small pyralid moth that was disturbed from the vegetation as we walked through. He spent the next 10 minutes stalking it, getting a bit closer each time with a pot. A few times it looked like it was going to cross the water out of reach but thankfully it was potted. It turned out to be Sitochroa verticalis which was last recorded in VC 53 (South Lincs) pre 1918! Thanks to the ponk Yoda for letting me use his pic.
Now onto the PSL meet…
It was an early start from Nottingham with Simon the National Flea Scheme organiser – yes, there is someone who does such a thing! We set of at 0630 for Norfolk chatting about what we wanted to see, who was going and a whole bunch of other stuff. First stop was to try and catch a glimpse of a golden pheasant on the Sandringham Estate but my luck wasn’t in. Never mind, I shrugged it off ‘its only a bird’. We arrived at Holkham around 0900 to meet the other PSL’ers before discussing where we were going to be heading. To the dunes was the general feeling although some of the group headed off to a different part of the reserve to look for a rare spider. Now at this point, I’ll point out that some bright spark mentioned that spoonbills are in the area breeding… SPOONBILLS. That is one bird that makes a ponker like me weak at the knees and not many birds do! I spent the whole time in the car heading to the site from the meeting place gorping out the window with the binos hoping, even praying to the bird gods that one might pop over. One never did and I did my best to put it to back of my mind. I couldn’t – it hurt.
The first tick of the day for me was an unexpected one… a silverfish Lepisma saccharina, something I’ve been waiting to see in the house so I can record it. It was found crawling up a pine trunk!
Next was the stunning yellow birds nest, Monotropa hypopitys. We spent a few minutes looking for this then all of a sudden it was everywhere, well nearly.
After some messing around in the pines we finally hit the dunes. A few of the group began sweeping the vegetation but I knew where I was heading, straight onto the beach for some dead/driftwood turning and I wasn’t disappointed. The first bit I turned over revealed a large carabid I couldn’t name. It was a lifer and after some memory jogging, Simon came out with it. Broscus cephalotes – a stunning ground beetle found mostly around the coast although it has been seen in Nottinghamshire by Eakring Birds. In total I found 5 under the minimal amount of deadwood on the beach.
Another carabid tick came in the form of Calathus mollis which was in great numbers. I spotted at least 20 of these although I only took one so a different species could have been mixed up in with them. A brilliant looking beetle that I thought was a Calathus species in the field, it certainly cuts down on the amount of keying involved when you know the genus!
Keith Lugg asked at one point if I’d been looking out for the small and nationally scarce Armadillidium album, the beach pill woodlouse. I hadn’t, ‘I didn’t know there was one’ was my reply. I quickly checked some of the bits of wood nearby that I’d already turned and found two candidates before passing them to him for confirmation. No pics were taken of these but here is a link to the species on the BMIG website. I don’t often – if EVER – say a species is cute but… well, have a look for yourself. http://www.bmig.org.uk/species/armadillidium-album
Next came a species we had chatted about all the way from Nottingham to Norfolk, a certain toad you can’t touch. While still turning over bits of wood between the beach and the dunes I spotted a really hefty piece which required Simon to help shift it over. I spotted something digging just between him and me where the huge bit of wood had touch the sand… was it… was it a natterjack… no. It was a common toad but then ‘whats that… by yer knee Simon, is it another common toad…?’
The yellow striped down its back confirmed it was the natterjack. I don’t spend a great deal of time on the coast so this was a real moment… right place, right time. The group headed over pretty sharpish wondering what it was we were calling them over for… they weren’t disappointed. I’m still over the moon about finding this little toad. OK, the pill beach woodlouse might have been cute… but… can I bring myself to label two species in one day as cute. I think I can. Look at it albeit it slightly grumpy. No toads were harmed or touched.
A few new coastal plants made it onto the list, sea spurge Euphorbia paralias, hounds tongue Cynoglossum officinale and marram grass Ammophila arenaria. It is worth mentioning here that someone (sorry, the name has escaped me) found a pseudoscorpian in the marram that is looking pretty likely to be the marram pseudoscorpian Dactylochelifer latreillei. If it is, that will be the 5th one on my list. Here is a link to the species http://www.chelifer.com/?page_id=211.
While bobbing around on the dunes I took a few spiders. New on the list…
Agelena labyrinthica which makes an cracking web.
Evarcha falcata, an epic looking jumping spider that I knew looked a bit different to the normal ones I come across.
and the stunning Steatoda albomaculata which is a notable species. It was found dobbing around on the ground on the sheltered side of a dune. Some nice notes on the species can be found here http://srs.britishspiders.org.uk/portal.php/p/Summary/s/Steatoda+albomaculata.
Two other beetles were found on the dunes. At least 20 Clanoptilus barnevillei were swept from ragwort… well, I’m hoping it is this species, the yellow tarsi are leading me to believe it is and I keyed it and everything! A real Norfolk specialist that is confined to the Norfolk coast with a few records from Lincolnshire’s coast too (according to the NBN Gateway). Edi, now confirmed. It still doesn’t beat a natterjack though.
The other beetle was… a weevil! Swept from marram, the first clue. A little searching on the internet with ‘marram weevil’ turned up a likely candidate… yup… the marram weevil Philopedon plagiatum.
The first of the two new longhorns on the lifer list came from a pine trunk. I noticed a chap peeling bark on a pine ahead of me (his name escapes me – can you see a pattern of forgetting names?) so I headed over. He passed me a pot and in it Arhopalus rusticus. A stunning beetle that has been recorded on the site before. I managed a few snaps before passing back the pot… then he ran off with my net and left his behind… I was too engrossed in trying to find some more that I didn’t realise and had to chase him down to exchange nets back! Also found under the bark of the pine was a deceased female Stictoleptura rubra and a few large longhorn larvae. I’ve seen S. rubra before but not had one yet this year… I recorded it anyway.
While heading back through the pines to the car, a small moth caught my eye which was potted. Micropterix calthella, a new species on my list. No photos of this but here is a link to some – http://ukmoths.org.uk/species/micropterix-calthella/. You have to love the hair cut on it!
Ryan Clark called me over with a longhorn he’d spotted, Pseudovadonia livida. The second longhorn tick of the day but I wasn’t happy until I spotted one myself. With a bit of searching in the area four more were spotted making me a very happy ponker. Also spotted was a very small Agapanthia villosoviridescens. Four longhorn species in one day, not bad.
Two unexpected ticks came in the form of the hairy dragon fly Brachytron pratense and the blue tailed damselfly Ischnura elegans, both I thought I had seen before but it turns out I hadn’t. Again, no photos of the flighty blighters.
A common lizard was found under some pine bark but was too quick for me to get a photo of, always love seeing these. With the lizard, the haul of beetles and a natterjack toad I didn’t think the day could get any better… but it did. A phone call was taken stating that a certain bird was showing well from a hide.
Yes, a spoonbill. Three spoonbills (two pictured). Oh. My. Who’d have thought that an amphibian and a bird would be the highlight of the trip for a crazed beetle herder like myself. You can see from the photo I was really close to one, not. It didn’t matter. Seeing a spoonbill was absolutely epic!
After what was a top ten, maybe a top five field day out, there is only one thing left to say.Green space and mental well-being go hand in hand. Throw in some good company and you are on to a winner. I really needed a good day out ponking and that is exactly what I got. Its great to put some more faces to names and meet some more of the people who have helped in some shape or form with identifications and encouragement on the PSL website and Facebook group. Both links to the sites can be found at the end of the post. Lastly, a big thank you to Bill for herding cats and sorting out everything for the weekend. Hats off chap! You did a grand job and that joke you told me out of earshot of most people was a stonker!
I can’t wait for the next one… who’s sorting it out then?
http://www.brc.ac.uk/psl/home PSL Website
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1550187855270648/ – PSL FB group