Sunday, May 19, 2024

And another one

Whilst geting changed out of my running gear post-race last weekend in Llanberis, north Wales, this small staph landed on my sweaty kit. Luckily I had a pot to hand and managed to collect it before it flew off again in the mid afternoon sun. 

I thought intially it was a Xantholinus, but on examination at home I realised I was in the right tribe but this was a different genus and one I hadn't seen before. It keyed easily to Nudobius lentus. 

This species is saproxylic and associated with various conifers, particularly pines, although can ustilise broad leaf speecies too. They apparently feed on bark beetles and can be quite an important peast control species.

Another new staph, my favourite family. 

Saturday, May 4, 2024

A new staph

Last week, while on a work trip to Dumfries and Galloway I visited the RSPB's Mersehead reserve. The weather was amazing and we had a guided tour of the site. 

We had a look at the dune system, saw some Natterjack spawn and I even got to have a quick poke around under som beach debris. I have a couple of aleochs sitting in a tube still awaiting a name but I did find this beauty.

When I saw it I thought it was Bolitobius species but once I was home and had it under the microscope I managed to convince myself it was a weird looking Quedius. Should have stuck with my initial assessment!

This is Bolitobius castaneus. It's the smaller of the two UK species and has 8 to 10 puncture on the sutural stria as oppsed 5 or 6 in B. cingulatus. A new species for me.

EDIT: wrong again. Staphs are a learning game! It's actually a Mycetoporus. Need to have another look.

UPDATE: so thankfully my mistake was pointed out and this keys to Mycetoporus longulus. There are records from nearby too. Still a new staph though!!

I also found a Pterostichus vernalis and this Broscus.

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Going missing

It's been a while....

It's not that there hasn't been natural history happening. There has, but just not as much as usual and then I also haven't really had the urge to blog about it either. Sometimes life just gets in the way. Family and work life have been extremely busy this year and my running has also taken up a ludicrous amount of time as I fully embrace my midlife crisis and refuse to believe that I'm about to hit the half century. Two ultra marathons down and one left for the year. It has been great to do and I'm now the fittest I have been in years if not ever.

So, back to the wildlife. Despite the lack of posts I have managed to do some poking about in the UK and further afield. I did some beetling in SW Scotland and Norfolk as well as the usual Cambridge sites and also had trips to France, Spain and Finland over the summer.

The moth trap has been a semi-regular fixture at home and I have racked up a few new garden moth species. But it was another visitor this week that kicked my ar*e into writing this post.

In amongst the various sallows, Mallows and chestnuts, this little fella (well female) popped up on to an egg box and I potted for some photos.

I think this is a female Ectobius lapponicus aka the Dusky Cockroach. It's one of our native cockroach species and doesn't get too much further north that here, although I guess that is changing with our climate hotting up. Twenty three degrees here today and it's the second week of October. Beyond scary!.

Anyway, a new species for me and a good excuse to resume sporadic posting.

The post title is nicked from one of the singles from Maximo Park's Mercury Prize nominated first album. Always worth a listen.

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Keep trucking

So that's the end of 2022 and five months since my last post...

Natural history has taken a bit of a back seat over the last few months after a frenetic couple of years of beetling and that has meant that I've had far less to blog about. With a significant birthday coming up in 2023 I have been focussing more on running and have booked to run one possibly two ultra marathons over the next few months, so training for that has eaten into my spare time.

I've still got a few tubes in the fridge that need going through and that might mean I can post some stuff over the coming weeks, plus I can always have a rummage in some tussocks or sieve the grass heap in the garden.

In terms of highlights, our family holiday to north west Spain and Portugal was most definitely it, with views and places too numerous to mention. However, our last night in the Picos de Europa provided an hour or two of ever changing skies, where the light played over maginificent peaks and far off thunder clouds added drama and quiet threat. Sat watching it all play out brought that sense of insignificance that being in such places at such times can bring.

Here's to 2023! I hope it brings you everything you need.

The post title comes from the opening track of probably my most listened to album this year, The line is a curve by Kae Tempest. A magnificent creation. 

Thursday, July 21, 2022

The sun was rich, rich with a song of sin

What a few days. Scary temperatures that shouldn't be seen in the UK. The land is dry, parched and in need of water and here in Canbridge there is yet no sign of relief. A sign of things to come and an sign of how unprepared we are as a country for what's coming down the tracks.

Lots of idiots repeating the 'it's just like '76' or 'it gets hotter in Australia and they deal with it'. Countries that routinely experience high temperatures are built for it and the population usually has the knowledge and behaviour to deal with it and stay safe. Houses are built for it and people act differently. Siestas anyone? Conversely, when I lived in Australia I don't think I have ever felt as cold as I did during a Canberra cold snap. The houses were'nt built for it and there was inadequate means to heat houses. I ended up in a several layers of clothes each night and wrapped in a thick sleeping bag.

Anyway, it's been sobering but suspect the media will move on to the next thing soon.

On the natural history front I put the moth traps out last night in the slightly cooler temperatures and was rewarded with a brace of moth lifers.

Oncocera semirubella


Also had the second garden records of Marbled Clover and Dewick's Plusia. Beetle wise there were some bits and bobs including Amara bifrons. Also second garden records of Nicrophorus interuptus and Necrodes littoralis

   Post title inspiration comes from the dangerously hot weather and Siouxsie and the Banshees. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Tiny ladybird

Whilst cooking dinner tonight, I spied a small beetle on the ouside of the window pane. Potted and microscoped, it appears to be Scymnus auritus. 2.4mm and hairy, I do find these tougher than they probably should be, so happy to be corrected. This species feeds on oak of which there is at least one large specimen within 250 metres of the house, so may have been dispersing on this warm afternoon.
EDIT: wrong again, it's Rhyzobius lophanthae and it feeds on scale insects and is orginally found in Eastern Australia. 

Told you these tiny ladyirds were tougher than they should be. At least for me. 

Good news is that Rhyzobius lophanthae is new too!


Sunday, July 3, 2022

Stunned by the last light of the sun

So despite having another weekend full of the chores, jobs and commitments associated with family, I did manage a couple of hours out this afternoon.

I decided to head out to the River Cam and check out sites for a couple of longhorn species that I've yet to see. The weather was humid with rolling clouds with the threat of rain that never came. I began looking at some arable margins, mainly to see if I could find Saprinus viridescens again. No luck this time although there were plenty of its prey, Gastrophysa polygoni.

At the far end of this field I saw a carabid climbing a grass stem that I assumed would be Curtonotus aulicus but on closer inspection wasn't. I had an inkling what it was so decided to pot it for further scrutiny. 

I'm glad I did as it turned out to be Zabrus tenebrioides, a species associated with cereal fields that can reach plague proportions in eastern Europe but is reasonably scarce in the UK with most records from southern counties. It is pretty distinctive and one that I have hoped to see for a while. Any day with a new carabid genus is a good day.

A second new species for me, came in the form of Cryptorhychus lapathi. This is a large and distinctive weevil from a whole new subfamily, Cryptorhynchinae. It is a bird dropping mimic and was found on a small decaying twig of a Salix sp. Another one that I had been on the look out for for a while. Despite extensive searching I failed to find any more.

So despite no longhorns it turned out to have been a pretty good couple of hours out and I shall be back in a week or so in the sunshine to see what else I can find.

The blog post title comes from another track from Kae Tempest's latest album. All the tracks are good but this one especially so. This is a version from last week's Glastobury. Enjoy.