Thursday, 9 March 2017

Spring!

Wow, what a difference a day makes. Glorious blue skies by late morning and it was almost (almost) warmish at one stage! For the first time this year I could have done with my net, I spied a fair sized bug flying low across a grassy strip, presumably a shieldbug. I followed it with my binoculars but lost it when it jinked into the undergrowth. Haha, the locals have yet to witness me dashing about with my butterfly net! But here's a nice springtime image for us all to enjoy, if you like this sort of thing...

I'm still studiously checking these for Scotland's first ever Norellia spinipes!
There's a lovely thread on this Dipterists Forum page regarding information on the spread of Norellia spinipes (and of it's observers), it's a few years old but makes for great reading. I commonly found the fly in Surrey during the springs of 2014 and 2015. Be a bit of a leap for it to occur on Skye, but entirely possible seeing as the larva are presumed to live within the bulbs. In theory it could be transported just about anywhere I guess. I shall keep on looking, there are plenty of naturalised and garden grown Daffodils in NG3963. It is also recorded from Heather, plenty of that here too.

Anyway that's quite enough about what I didn't see, the tide was out so I had a poke along the shoreline finding a few bits n bobs but nothing very exciting. Low tide is still pretty high at the moment, it will be another couple of weeks before we have the lowest tides of the month. A washed up Cuvie stipe provided a morsel of interest with several Prickly Saddle Oyster Heteranomia squamula attached to part of the holdfast

Heteranomia squamula next to the delightfully named Wart Barnacle Verruca stroemia
The orange colouration through the shell is a puzzle. It seems to resemble egg batches, I brought it home with me for closer inspection, must remember to check! The rest of the flotsam was pretty mundane so I retreated up the beach to just above HWM and started turning boulders. This was more productive than I expected and I encountered numerous small staphylinids that look to belong to the subfamily Aleocharinae. I have no literature for these, plus I think they're a pretty hardcore group to crack. I took a few specimens and this short video. If anyone has any thoughts, ideas or suggestions as to species... EDIT: Thanks to Mark Telfer's advice and suggestion, these have now been named as Thinobaena vestita, a coastal species with records for the west coast of Scotland, though not from Skye. Brilliant stuff!


The larger rocks in the foreground were the ones with the beetles and spiders beneath them
Beneath the same large rocks I found a good many spiders. They were pretty docile and none too rapid, often pulling their legs in rather than speeding away for cover. I think they are probably Halorates reprobus, I took 3 back with me to check under the microscope. Unfortunately none were adult male and I couldn't see any trace of an epigyne. I did get a half decent pic of the underside of the chelicerae though, taken whilst sandwiching the spider between two microscope slides! This doesn't seem to harm them, I can release them next time I'm at the beach.

Halorates reprobus? Just check out the 'teeth' on those jaws!
Here's a pic of a pair taken whilst still down on the shore, just moments after capture. They were really chilled, didn't even attempt to escape when the lid was removed. 

Look alright for Halorates reprobus?The third one is just beneath them.
Staying with arachnids for the moment, I found a striking spider hunting through the nooks and crannies of a sunlit wall. I watched it for a while before it presented an opportunity for me to quickly pot it up. I think this has to be Tetrix denticulata

Long spinnerets, abdominal patterning and habit of hunting on a wall all seem good for Tetrix denticulata
Two male Goosanders close inshore was a nice surprise. I've seen a female here before and a male on the river once but that was some weeks back now. Scanning further out I thought I had another but it was just a Red-breasted Merganser, these are seemingly out there all the time. 

Moving away from the beach I wandered up the hill above Uig Woods and through the sheep fields until I reached the cemetery. I can't help but check the drystone wall for snails and springtails, not too many of either today although this grouping of Balea perversa was nice to see

Balea perversa - facing into the wind for streamlining???
I'm assuming the smaller ones are juvenile Balea perversa, hmmm...we all know what happens when people assume! I think I'd better key them through next time.

From here you can look out across the canopy of Uig Woods in Glen Conon. I backtracked to the trees and soon found a Downy Birch that is infested with Witch's Broom growths, I really can't recall seeing a birch quite as heavily infected as this one

Witch's Broom can be induced in several ways, the fungus Taphrina betulina is likely here
I turned around and caught a tiny glimpse of red. I looked again and it took me a few seconds to realise what it was that had caught my eye

Female Hazel flower amongst the male catkins - tiny but lovely
The male pollen-bearing catkins have been out for some time now, but obviously there needs to be female participation for pollination to be successful, only then can the hazelnuts be formed. Hazel pollen is wind and rain dispersed, just whack a catkin on a warm. still day to see the cloud of pollen it releases. The female flower, being situated so closely to the catkins, is taking no chances of missing out on that precious pollen.Wasted on me though, I'm really not a fan of hazelnuts. But plenty of mice and voles up here that are!


2 comments:

  1. Seth, if you can see the pronotal hair-pattern on those aleocharines, they might not be too difficult. Type IV is my bet, which would mean Thinobaena vestita. Or perhaps Type III = Halobrecta, in which case please send them to me!
    http://www.markgtelfer.co.uk/beetles/staphylinidae-rove-beetles/aleocharinae/

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  2. Let's hope FHL doesn't turn into FML :) I'll give them a go, see what I can come up with (and get back to you when I hit a brick wall).

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