Thursday, 8 March 2018


Managed a sneaky beaky day off work today. No wind, no rain, no sleet or snow and absolutely no midges - it simply doesn't get any better up here! I set off after breakfast and got back just before teatime. So yeah, I even missed my dinner, quite preposterous, I know. 

However, the upshot was that I added over fifty species to the NG3963 yearlist including Floating Sweet-grass as a brand new addition to the square. Here it is in all of its 'stunning' beauty

Glyceria fluitans in what could be charitably described as a 'heavily nutrient-enriched ditch'
I checked the copious cowpats for dungflies, but if there were any present out there they eluded me. It did feel quite warm for a short while, I was utterly convinced I'd skore Scathophaga or Calliphora within moments, though somehow I never quite did. 

Is it my imagination, or are sheep just bloody weird at times?
For some unknown reason, these sheep decided that they wanted to follow me across the fields today. Usually they hoof it across the horizon as soon as I stick my nose above the parapet (they must know I'm keen to check them for ectoparasites - I mean, who wouldn't be, right?) This bunch followed me all the way across the field and only stopped once I'd clambered across a barbwire fence. Freaky animals. And kinda spooky when doing the whole following thing too. 

The sun burst forth for a short while, which didn't help me to identify anything new, but the novelty value was high

This'll be bursting with life in another coupla months!
I checked tree trunks for signs of sunbathing flies (I can hardly wait to see that bronzey green sheen of the first Gymnochaeta viridis for the year) but lucked out, though I did find this wee stunner

Megabunus diadema - or the Mascara Harvestman, as I call it
I also managed a modest selection of lichens and bryophytes new for the year whilst scanning the tree trunks for real invertebrate species

Sticta canariensis - a noticeable component of the lichen flora here, with Mycobilimbia pilularis in the background
I wandered down to the shoreline at Cuil, noting a very close Great Northern Diver and a fine male Goosander just offshore. The tide was too far in for any meaningful rockpooling, though I did manage to find a few bits and bobs beneath the cobbles 

Female Halorates reprobus beneath a beach boulder. Note how I cleverly focused on the arse, not the head, end...
I heard my next 2018 addition whilst watching a flock of six Rock Pipits foraging along the strandline. Looking up, this is what I saw

First person to guess/figure out what they are wins a packet of Superhero Popping Candy...
Last thing of note from today's jaunt was a rather weird clump of Snowdrops

Some sort of double-flowered garden variety, I guess?
Nearby was a clump exhibiting rather more usual flowerheads

I have a few bits in pots, including a freshwater leech which I'm quite keen to put a name to. Stay tuned for tomorrow's installment! 

Oh! Oh! I almost neglected to mention that the moff trap successfully managed to attract a moff tonight! After several blank nights (ie cold, freezing, windy and/or rainy nights) my duck has been broken* with this incredible beast! All of which puts me on a rather grand 401 species for the year. Sweet! 

Pale Brindled Beauty - a male (coz it has wings, the females don't)
*I don't like cricket. It's slow. It's boring. It's crap. Just so you know....

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