Monday, 22 February 2021


Today was pretty decent, weather-wise at least. I took myself down to the pier and noticed a small cushion of English Stonecrop which I must have walked past innumerable times. This proved to be entirely new to the tetrad, nicely filling a 'hole' in its distribution along this part of the Skye coastline. I would have taken a better pic if I'd known that at the time.

No idea how I could have missed such a huge patch beforehand...

The only reason I spotted it in the first place was due to the fact that I'd clambered down some rocks and was papping 'seaweed' for a little challenge that's happening on the local nature group's Facebook page (we're to take a pic of a bird, a moss, a lichen, a seaweed etc etc). Nobody had put anything up on the 'seaweed' category so I put this one up. Three species for the price of one here

This shows Egg Wrack that is liberally festooned with the epiphytic Vertebrata lanosa (Polysiphonia lanosa in old money) with a hint of Bladder Wrack in the top left corner. Anyway, the stonecrop was a decent reward for my efforts. 

I've had my sieve and tray pugged away in the woods, untouched for the best part of a fortnight. Today I went back to them and spent some time sieving leaf litter and tussocks in search of flies and spiders. I actually had the best session so far this year, even pootering up some wingless wasps that may, or may not, prove to be Gelis (my wingless wasp knowledge is rather limited!) I reckon I had about 20 or 30 of them running around the rim of my tray, though only 3 went into the alcohol. Hope I can do something with them, they're pretty cool looking things. Other things in the tray included this lot

Sorry about the background noise in this clip, there was a large waterfall just a couple of hundred feet behind me.

Top is a Notiophilus, probably biguttatus. In the middle are dipteran larvae of a Lonchoptera and a Fannia. At the bottom is what I'm presuming is Neobisium carcinoides. You're probably wondering why I'm being vague with the IDs. Just keep reading.

Here's a short video clip of a huge (5mm) sphaerocerid having a clean up. I've noticed that lots of flies go into 'clean up' mode once they've settled down in the tube. I guess that for most flies, having a nice clean wing membrane free from dust and debris really is quite important. 

I also sieved four of these rather nice harvestmen. This is Rilaena (Platybunus) triangularis. Nobody really seems to know of a good reason why this has been moved from Platybunus to Rilaena, I don't think it's been massively well accepted in Britain or Europe. 

This was the largest invert I found today, believe it or not! 

Actually, there was an Agonopterix that flitted out of the tray, body-wise that may have been larger. I also had a couple of Nemastoma bimaculatum in the tray and found a Megabunus diadema on a fence post, that's the most species of harvestmen I've had in a day so far this year, things are warming up at last. There were also quite a few spiders and I'm fairly confident one is a Neriene montana or peltata

Utterly gratuitous Lobaria virens images

This patch was more like a rug it was so large! I don't think I've ever seen Lobaria virens create such an extensive mass before, it must have been a metre top to bottom and a couple of feet wide - quite incredible really! 

Carlsberg don't do lichens, but if they did....

I finally remembered to check an Ash for the associated micro-fungi that usually plaster the keys. First keys I checked had both fungi present and correct. I took a crappy pic, just to remind me to add it to the yearlist that I'm definitely not keeping once back indoors. 

The small black dots at the base of the key, on the seed part in fact, are Diaporthe samaricola. The minute black dots on the central part of the wing area are Neosetophoma samarorum. I've seen both of these loads of times before, though I think this is the first time I've specifically looked for them in Uig Wood. A quick squizz at my PSL revealed a distinct lack of Neosetophoma - I'd never added it in! So that's a daft addition, puts me on 6202 species now. Wonder how many others I've missed off over the years. 

I cut across the sheep pastures and found some interesting habitat, might be worth visiting again in the not too distant future

I checked both ends just in case. It's definitely dead.

Back indoors, I set up the microscope to quickly check a couple of flies before giving them the ethyl acetate treatment. CLUNK. Err, what?? I sat back and watched the microscope slowly lower itself on the focussing rail. Holy shit! I wound it back into position and watched it lower itself again. Then I realised the left focussing wheel had lost all tension, it was just spinning in my hand. Shit. 

The spindle has completely sheared off. No idea how or why.

So I'm now in the middle of trying to find someone who can tig weld it back together for me. It's too fine a job for the guys who I initially contacted, they just use heavy duty mag weld for car and boat repairs. My beloved Telferscope has now been reduced to a pile of parts. It's fine, I can easily put it back together again, but not until the spindle is fixed/replaced. I've contacted Leica's parts department in Milton Keynes but no reply yet - I guess they don't work on Sunday afternoons. Holy shite, I need to get this sorted as soon as possible, I use it almost daily! 


Only one track for a situation like this

NEXT DAY UPDATE - so it appears there's nobody local to here that is willing to attempt a weld on something so small. If it was my car, or even better my boat (I don't have a boat...), I now have names and numbers for several chaps who'd be more than happy to help out. But not for a microscope.

However, Leica have been pinging me lovely emails all day (one email per department. They have a lot of departments) and can supply me with the necessary part. I did mention that my existing spindle is solidly glued into both focussing wheels, so I'd need two replacement wheels too - and not to fit them together before posting! The final email was from a friendly chap who informed me I'd be receiving the spindle already in place within the housing and already attached to the wheels, all of which would be attached to the entire focussing rack - oh right! Sadly it seems everyone went home for the evening so I never did get a response regards the quote for all that. All I wanted was a little spindle.... 

BUT...things are moving and I fully expect further emails from Leica tomorrow. Fingers crossed it won't be too outlandishly expensive, I really do need my microscope back in action.  


  1. Gutted for you. May your welding needs be expedited!!

  2. OMG! That's horrible! Spares or repair job on ebay maybe? Neriene montana's the only one with annulated legs, although in this context it must be hard to care about such trivia.

  3. Mmmm, cheers chaps. Leica have said they can send me up the part, which may be my best option as nobody local wants to try welding it. Mind you, I haven't received the quote yet (different department. Leica has LOTS of departments). I think the Neriene will be peltata as it doesn't have annulated legs.

  4. Arse. Too much late night drunken knob twiddling?

    1. Haha, and I thought Kasabian was the best thing to come out of Leics!

  5. Good news from the update seems like. Maybe I should buy a spare spindle...