If you can’t beat them, sweep them! Three firsts in one day.

While the world seems to be going crazy on Pokemon Go, I’ve been going crazy on British Wildlife Go. This is a post about one of my top three places to go wildlife hunting and a place that never disappoints. The place is of course in the mother land that is South Linkisheer and that place is Grimsthorpe Park.

The post today was powered by coffee, The Mistfits and Radio 4 last night… well in the morning until around 0400.

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A view from in the parkland

From the Wood Heap

The wood heap is the first stop as the ponkers entrance is pretty much on its doorstep. Its been a good wood heap over the years with many a good beetle being found either under the bark or scurrying about on the surface of the mixture of coniferous and deciduous timber felled from the estate. Two longhorn beetles Grammoptera ruficornis and Rutpela maculata were found on the last of the hogweed in flower along with a number of common carabids (ground beetles) like Pterostichus madidus and P. nigra taking shelter from the day under logs. We were searching for the longhorn beetle Phymatodes testaceus, a species I am yet to see but sadly we were unable to find it despite searching the area quite intensively. A number of new species on the list were found, the first two being the very flat beetle Pediacus dermestoides (account on WCG) and the brilliant looking Hylesinus crenatus. 

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Hylesinus crenatus

The star of the wood heap searching though has to be the stunning pinhole borer Platypus cylindrus. These beetles, although wood borers, do not feed on wood but instead introduce ‘ambrosia’ fungi which grows on the walls and surface of the tunnels – or galleries as they are called – and it is this that the adults and larvae feed on. For a full detailed account of this species please read the following link and for a photo have a look here.

Grassland

After the wood heap we headed out on to the grassland heading towards the quarry. Butterflies included marbled white Melanargia galathea and dark green fritillary Argynnis aglaja  – both new to me – along with small skippers Thymelicus sylvestris, ringlets Aphantopus hyperantus, small heath Coenonympha pamphilus and meadow browns Maniola jurtina.

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A marbled white posing for my camera

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The best shot I could do with the time given of a dark green fritillary

The numbers of pyramidal orchid Anacamptis pyramidalis in flower was a fantastic sight and a very memorable way to see a new orchid on the list. Stupidly – and with time never on our side – I never stopped to get a picture! After speaking with the park ranger half way through one of the days we visited, he mentioned that 8 were recorded a number of years ago. This has risen to 2000 plus on the last count recently. Wild liquorice Astragalus glycyphyllos, red bartsia Odontites vernus and wild basil Clinopodium vulgare were three other new plants added to my list from the area.

The Quarry

JL has seen green tiger beetles here before, one of the beetles that REALLY gets me going (well, any beetle gets me going) and although I have now seen one (Post here), I will never get enough of seeing them. None were spotted although a possible candidate had JL chasing down the track away from the quarry swishing his net until he lost sight of it. Blue fleabane Erigeron acer, toadflax Linaria vulgaris and musk mallow Malva moschata made it onto my British Wildlife Go! list as Lizards Zootoca vivipara were spotted briefly before dashing off out of sight.

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Platyarthrus hoffmannseggii – WHAT A WOODLOUSE

I’ve been after seeing a certain white woodlouse that lives with ants for some time now and I’ve lost count of the amount of stones, concrete blocks and bricks I’ve turned looking for it. Platyarthrus hoffmannseggii had escaped my peepers until the 14th of July when JL turned over a large lump of stone. Situated underneath was an ant nest and in with them a number of this fantastic looking woodlouse that was more stunning in real life then I had expected. This species of woodlouse is around 4 – 5mm in length, blind and is thought to feed either on the droppings of the ants it is living with or droplets of mildew.

A new longhorn beetle for the park was added from the meadow just next to the quarry, Pseudovadonia livida.  I saw this species for the first time earlier in the year while attending my first Pan Species Listing meeting in Norfolk, see here for that post.

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The mean looking, slow and sluggish lesser stag beetle!

In between the meadow and the quarry was another wood heap which turned up a few other species of beetle, one of which is always a joy to see… the lesser stag beetle Dorcus parallelipipedus. A lizard or two was also spotted but as it was beginning to warm up they were too active to get even just a fleeting photograph.

Little Trees

The area of the park known as little trees has to have been named at least 400 years ago, probably a tadge or so more. Some of the oaks there are stonking knarly and knotted old things with great stag heads, huge fallen limbs and a number of once great living beasts that now lay where they once stood in full glory.

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Yeah, little trees… sadly without something to reference against these oaks look like twigs when they are anything but twigs!

From the two Thursdays spent at Grimsthorpe we turned up three county firsts for Lincolnshire from this area of the park. Deciding that it wasn’t worth beating the oak foliage we could reach we spent our time working around the oaks that were either dead or on the way out and swept beneath and around them. In with what seemed like one million Rhagonycha fulva, JL spotted something extremely interesting and exciting… the fantastic beetle Lymexylon navale. Previously this beetle was designated as Red Data Book 2 but has since been down graded to nationally scarce.

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Sexy Lymexy – Lymexylon navale. The first individual seen on the 7th of July

We were hoping for a beetle like this but you can never expect such a thing to turn up. Just the one was swept by JL on the 7th of July. On the 14th of July I swept one myself before something else happened that we didn’t expect… we observed a female laying eggs in a huge fallen oak but then… another male on the same trunk not far away.

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Lymexylon navale – the female observed laying eggs

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The tree L. navale was seen laying eggs on.

We couldn’t believe it, three in one day taking the total individuals seen at the park to four. While checking a log heap and peeling bark just on the boundary of little trees ANOTHER one was spotted just sitting there. Four in one day and five individuals in total over the two visits.

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Axinotarsus marginalis

Axinotarsus marginalis was the second new to the county found on the 7th of July. At least three individuals of this recent colonist were found. This record according to the NBN Gateway (July 2016) is very nearly the most northerly record of the species and is thought to spread further north over the coming years.

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Axinotarsus ruficollis – photo by J. Lamin.

Axinotarsus ruficollis was the final county first from the day and is a species listed as nationally scarce. One was found on the 7th of July and a second on the 14th of July. For both species of Axinotarsus I am unable to find out much information about them. Basically I still don’t have half, or even a 1oth of the literature I would like. Still, both species are lovely looking beetles that have been a joy to add to the county list.

Other beetles new on my British Wildlife Go list included a few click beetles. Hemicrepidius hirtus is a larger species of click beetle that was frequently swept from beneath the oaks. It is a well-distributed species in England and Wales with a scattering of records from Scotland.

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Hemicrepidius hirta

Athous bicolor was also frequently swept in little trees.

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Athous bicolor

A single individual of Ampedus balteatus was spotted by JL on a dead oak standing proud. This is a very attractive species of click beetle with a distinctive colour scheme. The larvae feeds within rotten branches and stumps. I managed a single photograph before it opened up its wing cases and flew off.

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Ampedus balteatus

Xyletinus longitarsis was spotted by JL sitting nicely on a fallen lump of oak for long enough for me to muscle in and get a half decent photograph. While searching the rest of the lump of oak a second individual was spotted.

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Xyletinus longitarsus

Other beetles swept included Anthocomus fasciatus, Euglenes oculatus (new on my list), Notiophilus rufipes, Neocrepidodera ferruginea (new on my list), Lagria hirta, Cartodere bifasciata, Malachius bipustulatus, Conopalpus testaceus (new on my list) and the troublesome Leiopus longhorn beetle.

Other highlights from Grimsthorpe

On the 14th of July while heading back to the car I bagged my 15th longhorn species of the year, the magnificent Stenocorus meridianus. It was captured in flight after I shouted at JL ‘LOOOOONGHORN’. Here is a shot of one taken a few years ago from a moth trap in Callans Lane wood.

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Stenocorus meridianus

A number of ant beetles Thanasimus formicarius were spotted in the park. I have only ever seen this species once before. The adults feed on bark beetles as well as other insects and can often be found on trees hunting.

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Thanasimus formicarius

Up until the 14th of July: Records submitted – 7092. Species recorded – 1148. New species on my British list – 207. Species recorded this year – Just short of 500. Nothing remains to be said apart from mistakes noted would be greatly received… oh and,

Ponk on.

 

 

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About BeetlePunk

A naturalist from the best county in England, Lincolnshire.
This entry was posted in Beetles, britain, Insects, Lincolnshire Woods, nature, plants, Sightings, wildlife and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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