Today was glorious, truly beautiful - clear blue skies, hardly a breath of wind and overnight there had been a snowfall. Snow! Only a light dusting, maybe an inch or so, but wow - what a stunner of a day. Although, seeing as I'd been looking forward to sieving moss for inverts come my next day off, it did scupper my plans just a tad. So, I changed plans and hit the river instead, at least that wouldn't be covered in snow...
The woods were alive with birds, a party of Long-tailed Tits noisily spluttered their way through the understorey, a couple of Treecreepers trilled as they clambered moss-laden tree trunks, a group of Icelandic Redwings worked their way across the woodland floor and a flock of Siskins let me slowly approach to within about twenty feet as they fed on Alder cones, no more than eight feet above the footpath I was ambling along - magical. Ravens 'prrukk-ed' low overhead and a Mistle Thrush passed over, heard but unseen, a good bird in these parts.
Just a few days back the river had been a rushing torrent, testament to all the rain we've enjoyed of late. Today however, it was strangely quiet and tranquil
I fancied that I could cross and explore the far bank for the first time this year. Unfortunately, the fallen tree I ordinarily use as a bridge has washed away and that seemingly gentle river is still two feet deep in the rock-strewn shallows. One for another time, methinks.
However, below the weir is a quiet, shallow backwater which looked to be well worth exploring. This is where I find most of my freshwater flatworms, River Limpets, stonefly and mayfly larvae. Maybe I'd find some water beetles too?
|This was a raging torrent last week, it's quite amazing just how tough a plant Luzula sylvatica is!|
|It wiggled and I saw it - whatever it is!|
|Answers on a post card, please|
A quick look at water beetle larvae led me to Elmis, but I'm not wholly convinced that's what I have here. I took two home with me for further investigation. I'm boldly assuming they are beetle larvae!
|Definitely not the Water Louse Asellus aquaticus that I thought I'd found!|
I'll have to see if I can suss out the species, either that or try to rear it through. I could buy a tiny glass tank and aerate it, I guess? Could be fun!
EDIT: The 4-segmented legs, tipped with a single claw, combined with the flattened, heavily sclerotised body segments narrow it down to a workable number of families. However, the real breakthrough came when I checked the antennae, which comprise two basal segments and then approximately 20 tiny, bead-like segments. The sole family to exhibit antennae comprising more than 11 segments (and usually approx. 20) is Scirtidae. There are 20 species in Britain across various genera, though a few can be struck off due to their distribution range. Not sure how far I can go with the larvae, but I'll see what I can manage.
Here's a nice one for you, one you probably don't know. Listen to the lyrics, let me know your thoughts on the river he can't cross. My own take is that it's a song about death and the after life.