Thursday, 30 April 2015

Alderfly and hailstones

A mixed lunchtime at Cullaloe with a good number of hovers on the flowering dandelions and a couple of Alderflies - one on the bridge and another fond on the car park ground, presumably two of many after an emergence. There was also another bee fly on the dandelions.

One of the flies was the first Rhingia campestris of the year, another Cheilosia pagana and a few Melanostoma-looking ones.

After a sunny 15 minutes the hail began to fall and it was game over.

Alderfly looking like stained glass window lead

A lot tamer than the larva!

Monday, 27 April 2015

Another Linyphiid spider ... but not a money spider!

This spider, in the same family as what we call "money spiders", is a BEAST of more than 5mm which creates an impressive sheet web. In this case there were numerous specimens at the bottom of the bridge near the filter beds, so the overall sheet was quite something as I procured a specimen with a headtorch in the dark.


Lots of dog violets are up on the reserve now, with a good many on the embankment (dam side) next to the road. Very pretty they are too.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Crepuscular creepings

As darkness fell last night an owl passed by with pretty long wings. When darkness fell a Tawny was calling but this looked more like it might be maybe a Long-eared.

Woodcocks flew over the trees with their loud trodden-on-squeaky-dog-toy squeaks and soon darkness fell.

An Early Grey moth was caught at a flowering willow, and on the road two Water Carpet moths and a Shoulder-striped. A couple of micro moths made up the picture for an interesting nocturnal  visit. Both Early Grey and Shoulder-striped are new to the reserve list.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Sunny morning fly

One of my favourite flies of the spring has been Tachina ursina. I originally thought I was catching a hoverfly when I first came across it, until I took it out of the net to find otherwise. Since then it has become a favourite easily found at other locations too. This morning one was sunning itself on one of the best morning tree trunks at Cullaloe (wind sheltered and in direct sun early to mid morning)

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Stilt bug

A nice find no the window of my car in the car park - it found me I suppose - was the stilt bug Berytinus minor. According to NBN there are no records for Scotland even for the family, but normal NBN caveats apply and the recording scheme organiser didn't express any surprise at the record.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Cheilosia grossa - the teddy bear of Cheilosia

A nice large Cheilosia hoverfly with black antennal segment 3 (the big bit). I thought I might miss out on it this year since last year I photographed it in March.

Bee fly!

Dam top starting to look a bit more 3-D

An interesting week away from the keyboard. The numbers kept ticking along as the summer birds started to arrive - Swallow, Blackcap, Willow Warbler are all in. Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies put in an appearance and a couple of Bee flies were found (highlight of the week for sure)

I did a bit more work with flies and spiders, with the Linyphiid spider Neriene peltata being added to the reserve list - a male swept from the orchid meadow. Ticks continue to abound so I'm wearing wellies and getting checked over in the evening. Hoverflies also started to come good with a couple of Cheilosia (pagana and grossa) showing up and taking us to five species in April. A Syrphus which escaped was probably torvus but I'll never know.

Micromoth Diurnea fagella

Coprinellus micaceus

Bee fly Bombylius major

Friday, 10 April 2015

Fungal break - Psathyrella spadiceogrisea

A nice mushroom to break the invertebrate flavour. Nice to mix things up once in a while

Invertebrate diary April, week 2

Sunny day


   1 fly (muscid?) from sunny tree trunk in car park
   1 early bee on car park willow, but nothing else

   Sallow - Scathophagia stercoraria; Buff-t B-b; Rhamphomyia sp.; Small Tortoiseshell
   Filter beds - Bombylius major on Dandelion
   Car window - bug Berytinus minor
   Flew onto hand - small variegated beetle

Sunny day,


   2 beetles, filter bed PT
   1 ad.m.Microneta viaria, woods PT

Sallow catkins
   1 Early Bumble-bee
   2 Buff-tailed B-B (min)
   1 Eristalis tenax f.
   1 Eristalis pertinax (other Eristalis seen at distance but not ID'd)
   1 Empid, genus Rhamphomyia

   Carabid crossing road near car
   1 water beetle in bucket in paddock
   1 small beetle beaten from small pathside pine  
   1 Harmonia quadripunctata (Cream-streaked Ladybird)beaten from small pathside pine  

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Dipteran dilemma

I was quite excited about this fly when I got it from willow catkins yesterday, but I quickly ran into bother and never got out of it again. Hopefully someone from Dipterists Forum can help me get untangled.

Update: thanks to DF I can now say this is one of the Empididae. So that's a step forward.

Empid key (link):

1. Discal cell present -> 3
3. r4+5 not forked ->4
4. "Lower branch of vein cu longer and joining anal vein
at an angle much greater than 90°.  Proboscis long
or very long, directed downwards."

-> Genus Rhamphomyia

Let's park this one there for the moment ... at least until I find a key. Lots of species in the genus, but NBN (usual caveats apply) has only one record for Fife, from the usual place.

There is online an amazing resource, which goes far broader than only this one, but the keys to the Empididae are here: link

Rhamphomyia keying ...

1. Axillary lobe of wing well developed, the axillary angle rarely more than 90 degrees. 3rd antennal segment not particularly long and slender -> 2

2. Vein bordering upper side of discal cell always distinct, although sometimes noticeably less pigmented than other veins. Discal cell usually short and truncate at tip, rarely elongate and then the upper outer corner very little produced or the discal cell is open -> 5

5. Thorax black or grey -> 7

7. Acrostichals always present. Legs dark (except in barbata and sometimes geniculata). Stout or plump
species, male never with thorax velvety black and often with large and conspicuous genitalia -> 15

15. Labellae of proboscis long and slender, very short-haired, the hairs not so long as labellae are wide. Labrum at least one and a half times longer than head is deep. No bristle in 'comb' at tip of hind tibiae behind. Small species around 3 mm. Subgenus Aclonempis.

Ohhh, close but no cigar. 3mm?! Nope. Rewind and back to the microscope

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Mollusc morning

Lots of Brown-lipped Snail emerging all over the place and a fair few Black Slugs (Arion ater). There are also other slugs appearing which I don't know. I havea  feeling there is quite a range of species but they aren't on the radar at the moment. Also this morning the dew picked out a lot of webs left around on the vegetation. Some Linpyhiid looking ones and a few orb-weaver webs like the one below. Metellina mengei? Not sure. I have a vague recollection that species leaves an open area with a signal wire.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015


Over the weekend spent a couple of evenings bumbling about in the dark. My moth trap needed a new battery (not any more - yay!) so I was working with only a head torch. One flowering sallow proved moderately productive, while I also picked the weekend of the big toad orgy. This meant I spent more time looking at the ground not to stand on toads rather than looking at the path sides for moths, though I don't believe I missed much. Moth species encountered were Common Quaker, Hebrew Character, Chestnut and the micro Agonopterix ocellana, which proved to be new to the reserve list (the only one). A couple of other bits and bobs were added, taking the total to 305 species.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Simple pleasures

7-spot Ladybirds starting to appear all over the place, including Cullaloe

Had to rescue this little one from a bucket (did I rescue it or did it want to be there?). Must have got in somehow so maybe it could have also got out.

Also a bit of weekend fun was to be had creeping about in the night, but more of that later.

And just because it's so pretty, though not from Cullaloe, here's an Easter bonus of Notiophilus biguttatus - a ground beetle. From Mossmorran.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Hopping mad

OK, so back to the hemipteroid of the other day. I ventured to look at it last night and lo and behold it is of the family Cicadellidae ("leafhopper") and the subfamily Typhlocybinae ("awkward leafhoppers")

Come and have a go ...
To my dismay on searching for a key online I immediately found that the EntSoc one is out of print and freely downloadable. Horribly this puts me into a position where I may actually identify it, but only with a modicum of bothersome effort. What the hell. If nothing better comes along I will. Hemiptera were firmly placed in the de-focussed area for this year, but it's hard to look a gift hopper in the mouth. No doubt it will be one of the family already on the reserve list too.

Horsing around

Horsetail anyway. Spring is definitely moving into another gear, albeit only 2nd

Swept a Sepsid fly from above some daffs yesterday, but unable to identify to species. Colyer and Hammond helpfully diagram male femurs for several species but it wasn't helpful in this case as I assume my fly is female. One species diagnostic is the presence of setae on the sides of the abdomen. The keen-eyed will notice that my specimen doesn't have an abdomen! I have no idea what happened to it - I assume it fell off in transition between pots somewhere.

Sepsidae - would have been first of the family on the reserve

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Springtail Dicyrtomina saundersi - 3rd for Scotland

Of course it's already recorded at Dumbarnie Links - a familiar square on any NBN map! The final character that sorts this one out is the little orthogonal (crossish) pattern at the rear end

Orange Ladybird

Among other interesting things encountered last night was this new-for-the-reserve ladybird. New to me too, and a delight to see. I released it this morning.

Other small beasties encountered included the first Owl midge I have looked at under the microscope, a lovely Sciarid fly fungus gnat (try Dynatosoma fuscicorne) that I am cautiously optimistic about, and a small green bug that I also ought to be able to get close on.

Invertebrate Diary, April, Week 1

Sunny day, lunchtme visit
   1 Eristalis pertinax beside the path near the cottage (usual place!)
   1 Tachina ursina, same location
   1 small ground beetle, caught flying at same location

Lamping, 9pm
   2 Hebrew Character on sallow
   3 Common Quaker on sallow
   1 Chestnut on sallow
   1 Common Earwig on top of post with dead frog
   (also many mating toads on the path and even the main road)

Beating (all gorse)
   1 Metellina mengei beaten from Gorse
   1 beetle unidentified
Lamping, 10pm
   1 Hebrew Character on sallow
   1 Common Quaker on sallow
   4 Agonopterix heracliana scattered along path

   Several Metellina mengei on various trees

   1 imm. Larinioides cornutus swept from paddock
   1 Tetragnatha extensa with attached larva from paddock

   1 mature male Microneta viaria from woods
   3 mature male Dicymbium nigrum spiders

   1 imm. Larinioides cornutus swept from top of dam.
   1 Sepsid fly swept from above daffodils beside path but not identifiable to species
   2 Scathophagia stercoraria from beside the path
   1 Crumomyia fimetaria from woods pitfall

   Filter beds - springtails only
   Other traps not checked

A quickie tour in the evening before sundown

Pitfall traps
   1 globular springtail (Dicyrtomina saundersi ) from woods - 3rd for Scotland
   1 Sciarid fly from beneath rotten upright 'stump'

   Tetragnatha - many
   Sheep tick - 2
   Linyphiid spider - one female, 2-2-2-2, TmIV absent, TmI @ 0.25-0.30, not yet determined
   Owl midge from beside path

Beating unidentified conifer
   Orange Ladybird Halyzia sedecimguttata (new to reserve)
   2 small green Hemiptera
   A few immature spiders
   Many unidentified small flies

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Q1 numbers

So the first quarter has finished and British Summertime is here.Luckily the frost had mostly melted from the car by the time I left the house this morning! A good start, with about 50 more species than last year recorded, and 43 new species added to the reserve catalogue

Taxon Group Records Taxa
acarine (Acari) 1 1
amphibian 2 2
bird 62 57
centipede 1 1
conifer 1 1
crustacean 2 2
false scorpion (Pseudoscorpiones) 1 1
fern 1 1
flowering plant 81 68
fungus 47 39
harvestman (Opiliones) 2 2
insect - alderfly (Megaloptera) 1 1
insect - beetle (Coleoptera) 9 8
insect - hymenopteran 1 1
insect - moth 1 1
insect - true bug (Hemiptera) 2 2
insect - true fly (Diptera) 7 7
lichen 5 5
liverwort 16 12
millipede 4 3
mollusc 2 2
moss 74 57
spider (Araneae) 8 8
springtail (Collembola) 1 1
terrestrial mammal 2 2

New species added:

Preferred Name Common Name Date
1 Geranium pyrenaicum Hedgerow Crane's-bill 01/01/2015
2 Coleroa robertiani A fungus on G.robertanium 01/01/2015
3 Schizopora paradoxa Split Porecrust 03/01/2015
4 Plicatura crispa A fungus 03/01/2015
5 Phlebiella pseudotsugae A corticioid fungus 03/01/2015
6 Phlebia radiata Wrinkled Crust 03/01/2015
7 Exidia glandulosa Witches' Butter 03/01/2015
8 Polyporus leptocephalus Blackfoot Polypore 04/01/2015
9 Hyphodontia pallidula A corticioid fungus 07/01/2015
10 Peniophora nuda A corticioid fungus 10/01/2015
11 Cladonia coniocraea A lichen 10/01/2015
12 Teucrium scorodonia Wood Sage 14/01/2015
13 Septoria arundinacea A fungus on Phragmites 16/01/2015
14 Eichleriella deglubens A corticioid fungus 17/01/2015
15 Primula veris Cowslip 17/01/2015
16 Mercurialis perennis Dog's Mercury 17/01/2015
17 Sistotrema oblongisporum A corticioid fungus 23/01/2015
18 Pleuridium acuminatum Taper-leaved Earth-moss 23/01/2015
19 Tortula truncata Common Pottia 23/01/2015
20 Glechoma hederacea Ground-ivy 23/01/2015
21 Marchantia polymorpha A liverwort 24/01/2015
22 Gloeocystidiellum porosum A corticioid fungus 24/01/2015
23 Parmelia sulcata A lichen 29/01/2015
24 Lunularia cruciata Crescent-cup Liverwort 04/02/2015
25 Trichocera regelationis A Winter Gnat 04/02/2015
26 Oulema melanopus s.l. Cereal Leaf Beetle 13/02/2015
27 Zygiella x-notata An orb-weaving spider 05/03/2015
28 Leptocera fontinalis A lesser dungfly 06/03/2015
29 Orchesella cincta A springtail 09/03/2015
30 Sialis lutaria An alderfly 10/03/2015
31 Jaapia argillacea A corticioid fungus 10/03/2015
32 Hyaloscypha fuckelii An ascomycete fungus 10/03/2015
33 Neobisium carcinoides Common Neobisid 11/03/2015
34 Copromyza stercoraria A lesser dung fly 13/03/2015
35 Walckenaeria nudipalpis A Lyniphid spider 16/03/2015
36 Diplocephalus latifrons A Lyniphid spider 16/03/2015
37 Paradromius linearis A ground beetle 19/03/2015
38 Micrambe ulicis A beetle 20/03/2015
39 Exapion (Ulapion) ulicis Gorse Weevil 20/03/2015
40 Stenocranus minutus A plant hopper 20/03/2015
41 Platybunus triangularis A harvestman 25/03/2015
42 Lissotriton helveticus Palmate Newt 27/03/2015
43 Tenuiphantes cristatus A Linyphiid spider 28/03/2015