First ever pan-species lister's field meeting: Day 1, Parham Park

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Sunday, 27 May 2012 13:32

We did it! It was relatively easy to organise really but several things fell into place to make for a really great weekend. Firstly, the weather was great. Secondly, attendance was high. We had 18 people in the field on the Friday (16 people from Mark Telfer's list of 35 listers) which I think is pretty good. Much more than this and it would have become difficult to manage. Thanks to Sarah Patton for the photo above. From left to right we have Dave Gibbs, Martin Harvey, Mark Telfer, Simon Davey, Mark Skevington, Penny Green, Clive Washington, Michael Blencowe (yes we recorded it for the podcast too!), Matt Prince, Dave Green, Nicola Bacciu, Jonathan Newman, Me and Malcolm Storey, Many people even had a tick in the car park, the mining bee Andrena scotica and/or this Burrowing Clover.
So why Parham Park? Well I have been once to Parham for the last two years and we always find good things (usually saproxylic beetles) and I wanted to target a difficult group like this, and many people were quite new to deadwood beetles. Probably the first mega that most people saw though were the Field Crickets. A species that I am so used to down here that I forgot to tell people they were on site! Oops. It was great to get Dave Gibbs a tick that he had to abort 20 years ago!

It's going to take me a long time to add up and identify all the specimens but interesting saproxylics that we saw included the larvae of the exceptionally rare Variable Chafer Gnorimus variabilis. A Melandrya caraboides that Michael spotted and I netted in flight. Mark Telfer found a great tick for me, the striking little bright metallic blue hairy clerid Korynetes caeruleus. This species is nationally scarce and new for the site. Dave Gibbs found what is likely to be Procraeus tibialis in the same tree I found one on two years ago. I also found new to the site a single elytron of Colydium elongatum, the second time I have recorded this species in this way.

Dave Gibbs also got me a couple of new flies. Perhaps one of the most striking invertebrates of the day was this Criorhina floccosa, a really wonderful deadwood hoverfly that looks quite like a carder bee. It was a popular fly!
And also this little doli fly, Neurigona quadrifasciata. I now have two dolis on my list.
Simon Davey showed the group some rare lichens but I find them very tricky to take in with a large group like this, I think they really need to be taught in a more formal, course-like setting. Sadly, I didn't feel confident at re-identifying any of the lichens so I added no new lichen species to my list. Whilst looking closely at a lichen tree, Mark Skevington spotted this smart little psychid, Narycia duplicella. I thought this was going to be a tick for me but Seth Gibson showed me this earlier this year at Epsom. A shame that Seth and Sami were not able to make it but they are currently on their honeymoon quest to walk the length of the country. Meanwhile, a Spotted Flycatcher did its best to 'sing' for us.
Hawthorn, although in full flower, was not as productive as we had all hoped but during some routine sweeping I stumbled across some debris in the bottom of my net that had just a little too much symmetry to it. I very nearly discarded it. As I took a closer look, I saw perhaps the strangest and coolest weevil I have ever seen. Covered in pits and warts, this strange beast looked like no other beetle but when Mark Telfer and Dave Gibbs came along and were almost as equally bemused as I was, I knew we had found something a little unusual. This species is likely to be perhaps the only species that was new to everyone. Mark Telfer was able to tentatively identify it in the field as the introduced Fern Weevil Syagrius intrudens (I did indeed sweep it from Bracken, moments later Mark found another three). This was the highlight for me and was a popular beast, being christened Mr Lumpy. By the afternoon, the relentless heat was making people go a little strange. UPDATE: Mark Telfer has since found out this is only the seventh known site for this weevil...in the world! Read all about it here.
Someone also spotted this Dendroxena quadrimaculata. I have only seen this once before at Ebernoe in 2009 so it was nice to see this strange nationally scarce silphid again.
After a pub meal at the Crown Inn down the road at Cootham, we headed back out into the field for some light trapping and torching.
And of course, Mark's secret weapon, the Autokatcher. Mark transformed his car into a beetle catching device and he did pick up a number of tiny specimens this way that are yet to be identified. I wonder if anything good will come out of this method. Amazing!
Moths that came to light were a little thin on the ground but I did actually get one macro moth tick, Rosy Marbled!
Clive found a cracking Carabus arvensis but I didn't get to tick it unfortunately. Helops caeruleus is abundant on big old oaks at Parham at night. As we were searching some really old trunks I found a click beetle that Mark is yet to identify, so I hope that turns out to be something good whilst in the distance, a Nightjar churred away. Mark also spotted an odd looking beetle too high up on an oak to reach and it vanished into a crack in the bark never to be seen again, I am pretty sure now it was Opilo mollis. We finished up at midnight, headed back home to get some sleep ready to start again on day two at Heyshott Down. This is perhaps the biggest post I have ever written so part two will be out tomorrow. At this point, I would add if you think you would enjoy a day like this and be inspired to work on new and difficult groups, then put your list together, sign up to the pan-species rankings and you'll be able to come on the next field meeting which is already in discussion!

I am going to spend the rest of the day identifying specimens and staying out of the sun. It was an exhausting few days but that didn't stop me going to the pub last night and BMF first thing this morning. That said, I am looking forward to an afternoon sat down, looking down a microscope! My list is getting very close to 4000, at the time of writing I'm on 3963 so I might even get there by the end of the weekend. Finally, a big thank you to Parham Park for allowing us to host this event on their site.

1 Response to "First ever pan-species lister's field meeting: Day 1, Parham Park"

Martin Harvey (kitenet) Says:

Great write-up Graeme, and thanks for organising it all, a very enjoyable day.

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