Wight Light/Wight Heat

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Wednesday 5 April 2023 07:06

As my field season hurtles towards me, I better get part 2 of the trip to Isle of Wight wrapped up before I lose the window. This is mainly inverts and plants and is mostly based on two fantastic days out in the field with Mark Telfer. On the second day, Mark and I met up with Iain Outlaw, and as we got to the undercliff target area, before they had even said "here we are", I shouted "OIL-BEETLE!" And that's basically how the two days went.

Thanks to Mark, it turns out this one was a lifer for me! Black Oil-beetle, Meloe proscarabaeus my fourth oil beetle! So pleased to finally connect with this species. This male was much bigger than I thought it would be and very mobile.

Soon after this I was looking at the target species, the bryophyte Philonotis marchica.

Yet despite how rare and restricted this is, it wasn't the bryophyte lifer on the cliff face I got most excited about. The cliff was covered in hornwort, and I have never seen a hornwort before! This is Phaeoceros laevis! Here is the female with the horns.

And the male plants.

Earlier that morning, Iain took us into Shanklin to see the incredible fungus Coccomyces delta that grows on the old leaves of Bay. Such weird triangular structures, spot the four-sided one doing its own thing. I salute it.

And a quick stop to a churchyard for a naturalised clubmoss tick, Krauss's Clubmoss.

I covered three quarries over the trip. A couple with Mark and Iain but also I had a look at a quarry down by the Needles with Karen and that was a great little spot. A new hectad record for Phaeocedus braccatus was a real find!

And the ridiculously common Agyneta mollis. Two new hectads for this on the island brings the post 1992 hectads for this spider to at least 98, it's hurtling towards not even being Nationally Scarce at this rate (I had it in a playing field by my house this week).

And a Scotina, but unfortunately I lost the specimen. All are rare on the island and given I was in a chalk pit, this is quite likely to have been Scotina palliardii. I will have to go back! I got a couple of money spiders new to the island at various locations over the week, Micrargus laudatus and Parapelecopsis nemoralioides.

Rewind to a few days earlier when I went to visit Mark and his magnificent new garden. He got me four new bryophytes, really by hammering some of the really small acrocarps. But it was a new pseudoscorpion that was most exciting for me, Pselaphochernes scorpioides.

And a new fungus! This is Xylaria cinerea.

Then on to Ventnor Botanic Gardens. Mark had found this ant new to Britain sometime before my visit, it's Tapinoma ibericum. It's so numerous there that I spotted it on the first evening when Karen and I walked up to the gardens only to find them closing and I noticed it on the walls by the toilet block without realising the significance. They form impressive long lines.

A millipede that's only found here is, this one is particularly pale, Cylindroiulus apenninorum.

But Mark breaths first for Britain, so it didn't take long before he found one in the form of this weevil, under a rock. Likely to be associated with Cork Oak, Mark says it's in the genus Echinodera.

And another lifer in the car park for me. The rather odd looking reticulated slug, Tandonia cristata.

Karen and I went back to the gardens on a rainy day, when I discovered this fenced-off tunnel and just how good at light gathering the camera is on my new phone (I upgraded after nearly seven years). This was pitch black to the naked eye. The open end apparently comes out half way up a cliff, so no spidering in the for me.

And I turned a couple of stones and got the shelled slug we missed first time, Mark says it's most likely. Ear Shelled Slug Testacella haliotidea.

And no trip to the Isle of Wight is complete without visiting the Needles. I love the soils here.

So that's it for the part 2. What a week. It was a really great pan-species listing holiday, that was also in part research for the book on pan-species listing I am now 50,000 words into. A HUGE thanks to Mark for giving me so much of his time and knowledge, it was so much fun! 

Yet my field season has started and I didn't quite get this out in time before I hit this period of high pressure (today is day four of a straight run of field work and I've already walked 19 miles since Sunday). I have made over 1000 records in the last three days and have just hit 200,000 records. So I think my next post will be a celebration of biological recording. I will leave you with my 2nd favourite photo of the week, a Carrion Crow that joined the ferry about a fifth of the way across and stayed with the boat all the way to the island!

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