Monday, 19 December 2016

2016 - top ten

My favourite species encountered this year - not all are rare, but maybe my first or maybe the circumstance makes them special

10. Geastrum triplex
The most common of the earthstars in Britain, these are included because they are my first and because, amazingly, I found them 2 metres behind the fence of my new house after looking forward to seeing some (any earthstar) for a while.

9. Hydrophorus nebulosus
Not recorded in the Lothians for 100 years and last recorded by Percy Grimshaw, I spotted this pair on the mud from the boardwalk over Red Moss SWT reserve and was delighted when I managed to pot them. Even more delighted for them to go and live in NMS with so much of Percy's other material.

8. Triarthria setipennis
Not a particularly special species but this is the first fly I raised from a found pupa (in a Typha stem). I only had to wait three weeks but looking back it seemed like much longer!

7. Deporaus betulae
This one was a first for county, but I had to wait a while to see the fantastic curled leaves that makes this one so nice. When it happened the birches in the whole area looked like they had Xmas decorations.

6. Birch sawfly (Cimbex femoratus)
Looking down from the side of the path and seeing this clinging to a grass stem is a slightly Dr.Who experience. It is a BEAST. And also a sawfly I can identify. I still have the image of its jaws opening and closing on my retinas.

5. Coeliodinus nigritarsis
This should probably be higher, and maybe would be if it had any back story. Because of the lack of that I don't really have strong feelings about it, even though it may turn out to be a first for Scotland. It was the first weevil I checked out using Duff, although I couldn't make my mind up between this and "the other" Coeliodinus (rubicundus) and eventually it was determined by someone else. I wonder if I will love it more with hindsight. It is a beautiful and tiny thing, though.(edit: not 1st, but one of less than ten records)

 4. Phebellia glauca
A fly which gave me the runaround for quite some time before I tentatively identified it. I visited NMS to try to confirm it (and hand over some other material to safer hands than mine) and got to take a tour and play with some lovely expensive optics. On top of that the determination turned out to be correct so a good experience all round. Roll on the day I have the time to make more regular visits.

3. Paracraspedothrix montivaga
The fly of the year for me, probably. After some trouble keying it out (got to right place but it wasn't in the key!) and some assistance nudging me towards the new draft Tachinidae key, I found this in three separate locations. I missed the first for Scotland, which was slightly disappointing, but the three records show presumably not only a much expanded range from that previously recorded but maybe also a decent distribution in SE Scotland.

2. Abrothallus prodiens
This lichenicolous fungus in the Lothians was a nice chance find which was the furthest south in Britain and the only British record outside of the Scottish Highlands. It also gave me an excuse to write a small article for the BLS bulletin. Found on the same day as #9 so that was a good day!

1. Yellow-ringed Carpet (Entephria flavicinctata)
While down a gulley on the Isle of Mull looking for bryophytes I encountered a moth on the rock face which I was able to net (everybody takes nets to look at bryophytes, right?) and confirm. An ironic one, because we ended up staying in a hotel so I hadn't taken a moth trap. I might have better records this year but somehow this one sticks out for me.