Saturday, 13 January 2018

What's in a Name?

Things have slowed down quite dramatically this past week, though I have slipped out and about a few times. The arrival of a new housemate has kind of messed up my routine somewhat. Instead of holing myself away in the man cave, listening to music and drinking wine whilst identifying specimens (which is what I usually do), I've been spending seemingly every spare moment being talked at by the new guy, pretty much everything and anything that pops into his mind it seems. The level of detail is intense, and usually irrelevant, it's quite endless. He watches tv a lot too, which is about the only time he stops talking. For that one small luxury alone, I have found myself watching more tv this past week than I've watched for months. He's a lovely fella though, I simply can't fault him otherwise. Apart maybe from his farting. But bloody hell...I've even started hearing myself think in his voice (like I don't have enough crazy voices in my head as it is!) But anyway.

The Iceland Gull was in amongst the gull flock again, it's now been four weeks since the first sighting and it has been reported on the Skye Birds site a total of ten times in that period, plus an adult bird on one occasion, as reported by another observer. The Glauc was seen on 3rd, 4th and 6th January but not since. 

I hit the beach on 11th Jan for a bit of marine exploration. The tides this month are pretty crap, the lowest low is still relatively high. Not sure when the real lows are this year, I shall have to find a 2018 tide table. Turning rocks seemed the most productive means of finding species new for the year. A Common Eel was a fine surprise, just the second one I've ever seen here. One large rock held seven Shore Rocklings beneath, they quickly churned the water to froth, thrashing their way out of their suddenly exposed hideaway before disappearing beneath adjacent rocks

Shore Rockling - this is of about average size for the ones I find here
I headed into the woods (this is Bryophyte Month, remember) and found a few bits n bobs of interest

The grey spots are Ramularia gei, a fungal parasite found only on the leaves of Wood Avens
Overhead were several eye-catching clumps of Yellow Brain Fungus

Tremella mesenterica - aka Yellow Brain Fungus
On a much smaller scale were these small greyish asco's. I spent rather a long time trying to figure out what they were. Back home again, I kicked myself for not collecting a sample. Then I read THIS AMAZING thread and am kinda glad I left them alone now! Here they are, found on the underside of a fallen branch

I think these are probably Mollisia, but which species?
After reading the amazing thread, I think there are several procedures to follow. Firstly I need to go back and grab a sample so that I can photograph the spores. I also need to make detailed notes of the substrate and habitat. I shall probably have to name it something like "Mollisia c.f. cinerea", but is this good enough to record? I guess it is, assuming it is actually a Mollisia, of course. And assuming it's a species currently known to science, Skye IS the unknown world, after all. Not good enough to make it onto my PSL though. Hmmm, this opens an interesting can of worms.

I have a millipede on my PSL that has yet to be named - it's completely new to science, you see. Similarly, I have a land nemertean new to science and a Sorbus tree that also has yet to be named. They're all on my PSL though. The millipede is awaiting naming, it will happen soon. I know the guy who found it, specimens are at the museums already. It'll happen, I'm ok with this - it just means I have to keep my eye on BMIG's notifications and change "Typhlopsychromosa (sp)" to the 'new' name when it arrives. The land nemertean is seemingly quite widespread in the far south-west of England, likewise it'll be described and given a name that sits better than "Argonemertes sp. (c.f. Argonemertes australiensis)", hopefully sometime soon! The Sorbus I'm not sure what will happen. It's on a nature reserve, there are at least three specimens of the species. For now I've dubbed it Grangelands Whitebeam Sorbus x.

Talking of millipedes, this was new for the year

Proteroiulus fuscus - rocking in at a whopping 5mm
I find millipede names very difficult to remember, there are generally almost as many vowels as they have legs. The big black one I call 'Tachy niger', the little pale one with red spots is 'Blanny guts', probably bad practice but there you go.  The worst shortening I ever heard was uttered by none other than Mark Telfer himself, father of PSL - "Porc scab" - yuck!!!

January. Bryophytes. Fuckit. Soon, I promise you, soon! I did manage a quite pleasing shot of these gemmae clustered in the halfmoon cup of Lunularia cruciata. They're just too cute!

Lunularia cruciata gemmae just awaiting that big fat raindrop to splash them out into the big wide world
Also spotted a bit of rust fungus on a bramble leaf, whacking it under the microscope allowed me to name it

Phragmidium violaceum - each spore is of 3 or 4 septate
Bryophytes. Next time. Almost certainly, yup...


  1. Gah ... Mollisia. Send it to Kew for gene sequencing ;)

  2. I see Brian says even sequencing is not there. Funnily enough Brian was up in Scotland when I saw my first aquatic hyphomycete.