I've had a couple of trips out to Chippenham Fen this week with fellow moth-er and beetler Bill. First trip was on Sunday to help feed the water buffalo that are there to keep the fen open and to stop it from scrubbing over. They are huge beasts but at the end of winter are looking a little scraggy and in need of some of spring grass. Luckily for them they are soon to be moved to their summer pasture and so will be able to spend the next few months fattening up on new grass.
Whilst on site we had a poke around the large amount of dead wood that is there as well as a poke in amongst some of the buffalo dung that is there.
|There's a tonne of dead wood kicking about to look at|
|Prime buffalo dung|
There were lots of the usual suspects in the wood and we came across several Carabus granulatus in their winter cells.
We also found (well Bill made the initial discovery much to my excitement and chagrin) an ash log that was very well rotted but contained a number of red Ampedus click beetles. These were new to me but are a tricky group to ID and will probably require some reference specimens to compare against to be determine the species. Still, a really stunning beetle to see and boy can they 'click'.
We went back to Chippenham again last night for a moth trapping session. The temperature dropped quickly with the clear skies but we managed to record about 20 moth species to the two MV traps we had out. We also spent a bit of time searching the tree trunks by torch light for beetles, of which there were a few, including two new species for me.
There were also quite a few of the bark beetle, Tomicus piniperda which were all on ash rather than the usual pine. (EDIT: the facts these were all on ash should have been a red flag. They are in fact Hylesinus crenatus. Thanks Adrian for pointing out my mistake)
Highlight of the visits must go to the well rotted coot that was being kept in a tub to be cleaned so that the skeleton could be obtained. It provided quite a few different beetles including several carrion beetles and lots of Catops and staphs that will need dissecting for an ID.
The smell was something special as was the liquid slime that sloshed around the bottom of the tub. Which brings me elegantly to the post title inspiration which comes from what was probably my favourite new release of 2020, Skins and slime by Oliver Coates. This album has also been on heavy rotation whilst I dissect and ID beetles. Happy times.