Saturday, 6 January 2018

What Dwells Beneath

As anybody who knows me will testify, take me out into the field and sooner or later I'll inevitably start lifting rocks, logs and bits of debris in search of whatever dwells beneath. I've been like it since childhood, I don't know why, but it's found me a lot of good stuff. Geo-caches on occasion. Apparently it's severely frowned upon to move them...oops, my bad.

I ambled down to the beach, the gulls were just arriving as the tide started to fall. Found the first winter Iceland Gull almost straight away, but was positively thrilled to see the first winter Glaucous Gull in the flock too! No pics, unfortunately - too busy chatting with a couple of the locals. Poor timing, the Glauc had flown by the time I stopped rabbiting away, I didn't even see it depart. A pair of Great Northern Divers were in the bay along with three Red-throated Divers and a Black Guillemot which is already transitioning into its breeding splendour. 

It was hardly low-tide, more like three quarters in, but I took myself down across the cobbles in search of seashore life. No fish, but a few Green Shore Crabs, masses of Orchestia gammarellus and a single Beadlet Anemone. I'll just have to wait for a low tide and try again properly. 

The top of the beach is littered with small boulders and large cobbles, embedded in the coarse grey volcanic sand. Despite being well below the high water line there are plenty of air-breathing invertebrates to be found on the underside of these rocks, surviving in air pockets until the next low tide. Incredible really. 

Strigamia maritima being photobombed by an Aepus marinus
Aepus marinus - a 2.5mm long beetle found under rocks on the beach
You won't find either of these species anywhere apart from along the upper reaches of beaches (below or near the HWM), an incredibly specialised niche for land animals, but they both occur here in great numbers, so it's obviously a productive zone for them. 

Next I turned my attention to the boulders embedded in the woodland floor of Shore Woods. Usually pretty reliable for stuff like millipedes, woodlice, flatworms, slugs etc. Today was no exception

Kontikia andersoni - another two today, currently the commonest flatworm I'm finding!
A couple of Microplana terrestris - this is a native species of terrestrial flatworm
Microplana scharffi - another native species of terrestrial flatworm
I had hopes of completing the entire Uig Woods set with a Marionfyfea adventor, but it eluded me. Not surprising really, it's only ever been discovered a handful of times in Britain (my single example from here is the northernmost record in the world!)

Geophilus alpinus (insculptus) - still the only geophilomorph I ever find in these woods
Lithobius melanops - a split second before it burst into action. Gotta be quick with these guys!
Cylindroiulus punctatus - far more obliging than the centipedes!
Those of you on the ball will be wondering why I'm not busily keying through mosses and liverworts, what with this being my Bryophyte Month. Umm, yeah. Just let me finish this mad list-building phase (it's the start of a new year, I just have to get the list going!) and then I'll knuckle down to some proper bryologising. Fo sho....

Not that it matters, but I'm on 244 species out of my hoped for 1350. Only another 26 species and I'll be 20% there. Then I'll start with those mosses, honest guv!

Music time. I was going to entitle this blog Rocky Horror Show, except it wasn't at all horrific so it seemed a bit stupid. That got me thinking about Rocky (the films) music, but they've been played to death. Instead, here's the theme to Sylvester Stallone's First Blood. I absolutely love the film, though the book is, of course, far better. It's not as ridiculously over-the-top, gung-ho as the sequals either, it's actually a very good film. And I love the theme, here goes!

In keeping with the lonely lyrics of It's a Long Road (aka the First Blood theme, c'mon - keep up!) here's tonight's second choice. The guy in this video is just brilliant, the whole thing must have cost under $5 to make. Watch out for the head peeking through the office window - blink and you'll miss it!

Blogger is telling me that this is my 100th post of Skye's the Limit, whoop whoop! Guess I ought to celebrate, maybe I'll open a bottle of red, by way of a change (...ahem!) Thanks to all who read this nonsense, here's looking forward to the next 100

1 comment:

  1. That's a fine looking selection of things that wriggle and crawl and have names that would tie me in knots if I tried to pronounce them but January is for mosses and the like, get with the programme Seth, they won't count themselves ;)

    Keep up the good work and carry on getting those wonderful pictures.