Its the first blog post of 2017 but before having a look at the new lifers on the list, I have the challenge for the year. J.L and I have been kicking around together since 2010/2011, ponking our way through the local woods, work yard and surrounding nature reserves in our corner of South Lincolnshire. It was through J.L that I got into beetles but it did take a few years to get going (2014ish). I know him as the ponk Yoda and me the apprentice of ponk, so to speak. This year we are going head to head in a battle of identification covering three groups.
Beetles. I could be in with a shout of seeing more beetles than J.L this year if I get into some of the weird, wonderful and more obscure families. I’ll need to travel about a bit too, coast, woods, farmland, grassland… even the dreaded water in search of the troublesome aquatic families.
Moths. Ohhh, this is going to be tough. While I can get along fine with macro moths using the book and the old memory, micro moths are a different story. J.L’s micro moth recognition is something to behold… and I’ve never seen anyone else ditch the lunch from their hands and chase down a micro moth at full speed before exclaiming ‘oh, *species*, just the common one’ while its still in flight. The trouble with this one is that I go moth trapping with him on his patch in the woods back in S. Linkisheer. I’m not going to smash his total by moth trapping in the city center here in Nottingham. I need a new go to guy for moths for a year and a location out in the wilds to trap or guerilla ponk his trapping sessions…
Plants. Pahahaha. Sorry, I was laughing because I have no chance at beating him on plants. I’ll have a go, and a damn good one as plants are a real weak point in my arsenal of identification skills.
The point of it all is a bit of friendly competition between the student and the teacher. It’ll mean we are both going to be trying that little bit harder but, how much will be help each other in the field…
Me. “Ere, whats this Lambo”
Me. “John, this plant? What ya think mayet?”
Me. “oh, its like that is it. Get your head out of my sieved bucket of material, these beetles are mine. You haven’t seen anywhere near half of these”
J.L “You’re on my patch boy, gimme em ere”
Joking aside, I can see its going to be a good crack and if I’m honest I give myself a 50/50 chance of taking 2 out of the 3 categories providing I put in the work and don’t slack at any point. I just hope it isn’t an all out 3-0 victory.
So, the new lifers for 2017…
Exidia thuretiana, white brain. I originally thought this was Myxarium nucleatum until I got a bit closer, and closer still, and realised that it didn’t have the crystals in it. A quick check with fungal people and yup, white brain.
Stigmella aurella, a lead mining micro moth. How this has escaped my list until now is beyond me. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this plenty of times, perhaps because of that I must have thought it was always on the list. It was found in its leaf mine stage on bramble.
Arianta arbustorum, a snail. I found this while turning stones over in Colwick Woods, avoiding the dog mess and litter as I went. Before getting a bit sick of ‘dodge the crap’, this took my eye. I took it home and had a go with the snail key I have and… nothing. Where I ended up was miles away after posting it and receiving an identification. It was a juvenile of this species and that is probably why I went wrong, that’s what I think anyway. Its distinctive and should be one I can do in the field now so fingers crossed I come across it again. It was replaced back in the woods 3 mins from my house.
Probably the best so far out of the above, yesterday I ticked of a swan, the whooper swan. Now, I used to love birding and I went off it a bit, choosing to look down in the grass, wood and earth for my kicks but recently I’ve been getting back into it. Trouble is, it isn’t much fun when you stand in front of a screen and peer through with the binos to then have the chap next to you tell you there are whooper swans out there. Take the fun out of it why don’t you? I’d have found them myself matey. Still, stunning bird.
You can follow me on Twitter @theponker and/or join the blog by clicking follow on the right.