Friday, May 14, 2021

Sand stretch far away

I had a day off this week to do some jobs but also decided on a nice long walk to clear the cobwebs and get some exercise. One of the joys of middle age is sciatica and a good dose of exercise helps with keeping it under control. So I headed northwards towards the coast and struck out along the paths through the dunes, saltmarsh and beach between Thornham and Brancaster.

The weather was glorious and I deployed the baseball cap to avoid sunburn as I walked along checking for beetles in amongst the dunes. All the usual suspects were there including Phylan gibbus and Aegialia arenaria.

There were also lots of Philopedon plagiatum plodding along the sand or sat on vegetation.

I walked back along the beach looking under the tideline debris at various points, hoping to find some staphs but there was very little there. The most common stuff was Sitona lineatus and Oulema sp., presumably blown from further inland. Under one pile something different caught my eye and I managed to grab and pot it before it managed to burrow back into the sand. A quick look with the hand lens and I could see it was a male Bledius and one of the ones with the impressive pronotal jewelry!

Look at the pronotal horn on that!

It turned out to be Bledius spectabilis and is a species I've wanted to see every since seeing its image in the Lott guide. I've no idea what the horn is for but only the males have it. A spectacular looking beast.

I then decided to take a look at some of the salt marsh that lines some of this coastline to see if I could find any carbids kicking about. It was hard work and resulted in very little of interest.

I then spotted this old towel that some one had left to slowly die and gave it a lift to see what was underneath. Loads of carabids, that's what, all taking shelter under this piece of rotting cloth. Amazing.

There were a couple of species of Amara, Bembidion, Pogonus chalceus, Philonthus cognatus plus a whole new carabid species for me. Dicheirotrichus obsoletus.

Deciding that lifting bits of rubbish was obviously the way to find beetles I then found another piece of material alongside one of the creeks that riddle this area. More Amara plus this Broscus cephalotes, lurking waiting to take a careless child's leg off.

I decided to head inland and stop somewhere on my way home and decided to visit Ringstead Downs, somewhere I'd never actually been before. Parking the car and starting the walk in I was met with a trail of death and destruction.

Here, hare, here

In the warmth of the day there were loads of all the usual carrion and clown beetles plus a healthy selection of staphs and others. I had remembered to bring some gloves with me and so was able to have a proper rummage around inside and get a proper look at what was feasting on these remains. I also potted some Aleochora for further study. There was a new carrion beetle for me though in the form of Thanatophilus sinuatus aka the Smooth Death-lover.

Here it is on the right in a comparison shot with T rugosus. You can see the lack of wrinkles around the edges of the elytra and also the small notch at the shoulder that distinguish this one for its close relative. It is also appears hairier underneath.

Having only seen my first a couple of months ago I also stumbled upon a fair few Black Oil-beetles as I walked the paths including this rather fat female who I guess was just about ready to lay her eggs.

All in all a pretty good trip out and nice to see the insect life emerging after the end of the dry spell. Just need it to get a couple of degrees warmer and we'll be away. 

The blog title is a nod to this mighty song with its accompanying video of 80s pomp. I wonder what the Jordanians made of Particia Morrision!


  1. Who? Oh, you mean Cleo Rocos :D

    1. True fact: As a teenager I once had my face pressed into Cleo's ample bosom at a Marc Almond gig

  2. Nice, and productive. I'm well overdue for a day out in some proper habitat - grilling the local square is all well and good doesn't quite cut it.

  3. Your experience with the dead towel is why I always wince at the thought of well-meaning gangs of volunteers doing a beach clean!