Saturday, 14 July 2018

1000th Species for the Year

After much slowing down on my part, the light trap has delivered the goods - just as I hoped it would. My attempt to see 1350 species in my home 1km square this year crossed the landmark figure of 1000 this morning. Initially I thought I was on 1002 species, but I'd fkkd up a couple of my moth identifications, then realised I'd missed another off the list entirely. However, we learn from our mistakes and I'm now pretty clued up on Gold Spot vs Lempke's Gold Spot ID and can also now recognise the differences between a trashed Beautiful Golden Y and a Plain Golden Y (which, incidentally, doesn't even occur on Skye...) 

Lempke's Gold Spot - such a stunning wee beast! 
This is also a Lemke's Gold Spot (and not Gold Spot I initially thought - duh!)
I'll readily admit that I'm very rusty regards moth identification. I was heavily into field-searching for the microleps some years back, and heavily into light-trapping for the macroleps some years before that, but nothing much of either these past 15+ years, certainly I've undertaken no light trapping. Hence I'm now bit-by-bit relearning what once came easily. 

Here are a few more moths from the trap, all recent additions to the 1km square list

Aethes smeathmanniana - one I've never (knowingly) seen before

Common Footman - three previous records on Skye (Talisker Bay 1993-1999) -  I had FOUR in one night!
Common Wainscot - underside and hindwings were checked just in case! 

Double Lobed - I've never even seen one of these before! 
Grey Arches - first I've seen for.....16 years???
The Snout, an unfortunate name for such a striking moth
Of course, it's not all about the moth trap (after all, lighthouse keepers do not a pan-species lister make). Hell no, PSLers can find stuff anywhere, even in the deepest, darkest wilds.

"deepest, darkest wilds" - which in this instance means on the far verge of the road to the shop.....ahem...
What is that growing in a huge, great clump that I see before me? I crossed the road for a closer look. I looked. I looked some more. Nope, I just did not recognise it. I took a sprig and popped it into my rucksack (then continued to the shop, forgot about the sprig, filled aforementioned rucksack with food and goodies and squashed the sprig. As you do). So here are a few pics of a different sprig

Well, it looked like a knotweed to me. Happily, I happen to have a copy of the BSBI's Docks and Knotweeds in my (rather eclectic) natural history library. It didn't really help much, what with my plant lacking any ripe fruits, but it did allow me to dig deeper into the various possibilities. I came up with Persicaria (Polygonum) campanulatum, that's Lesser Knotweed to we lesser mortals. I pinged a few pics off to plant guru Stephen Bungard who came straight back with a "yep, absolutely!" which was all rather pleasing. Lesser Knotweed is already known from various sites across Skye, but this is the first record from up here on the west side of Trotternish. And a lifer too, good stuff. 

So anyway, I'm 1000 up. In July. In a kilometre square up near the top of Scotland. That's pretty good (and if it wasn't for Ali and Tim, I'd be more chuffed than a chuffing big bag full of chuffingly chuffed things). But Tim has just topped 1500 species for his home 1km square and Ali, though having gone radio silent of late, is still ahead of me. But only just.

At the start of this year I set myself a target a whole third higher than last year's tally. Last year I managed 1001 species, hence my target for 2018 was 1350 species. I then had it pointed out to me that Andy Musgrove's record-setting 2013 score of 1407 species wasn't a whole lot more than 1350. As quickly as that, my target for this year jumped to 1408 species. All of which means that I'm still only just 71% of the way there. I need to pull my finger out of the proverbial between now and September. 

Because I'm heading off in September. 

But more of that later.

Talking of 1000... I just love this whole album! Essentially, jump on YouTube and click on Izzyisstoned or Stoned Meadow of Doom and enjoy. It really is that simple! 


  1. I thought I'd give you a chance. Now I'm jealous of your knotweed so I might rethink that ;) Obviously I need another trip to Skye to catch some of that stuff I missed last time around!

  2. Hope you can cram it all in by September! And of course will be watching for updates on your future plans.