Monday, June 8, 2015

There's no place like Holme

What to do on a relatively warm and sunny Sunday? The choice was quickly made: a trip to the coast.

All packed and out the house before 9 followed by a 90 minute journey meant we were hitting the carpark at Thornham by 10.20. We walked along the coastal path into the Holme Dunes NNR and set up base in a semi-sheltered spot. The number of common insects was amazing. Painted Ladies and Yellow Belles were disturbed from the side of the path and every stem seemed to contain a Cantharis rustica soldier beetle.

The main quarry was quickly seen, caught, papped and released and caused the kids much excitement.

Dune Tiger Beetle Cicindela maritima is restricted to the upper strandline in parts of Devon, Somerset, Kent, Wales and the North Norfolk coast. There were quite a few running and flying around in the warm sun and were quite prepared to give a friendly nip to curious fingers.

There were several Dune Chafers Anomala dubia flying about and wandering in the sand. Searches of the marram grass tussocks turned up a couple of weevils although I'm none the wiser as to what they were. Both were tiny.

The spider Arctosa perita is a coastal sand dune specialist and several of these were found on patches of sand. My book says there are other species in the genus from which they need to be separated by examination of the epigyne. The other species in the genus seem to have different behavioural characteristics and habitat preferences, so pretty sure this is the correct ID (famous last words).

They are incredibly well camouflaged when they freeze, despite their seemingly obvious markings, which I guess mimic the granular patterning of the sand.

Looking through patches of grass bordering the dunes turned up quite a few of the large click-beetle Agrypnus murinus.

All in all this was one of those great days where family fun and a bit of light natural history combined effortlessly. Everyone had fun I managed to see some cool things inbetween burying kids in sand and troughing on sandy ham sandwiches. Awesome.

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