#speciesaday

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Monday 26 February 2024 18:22

Today is species 200 in #speciesaday, a series of daily 'microblogs' that I have been doing on Twitter for the last 200 days. Why bother? Well, I haven't had much time to do longer blogs lately, and I really like the snappy format of being restricted to 280 characters. I also REALLY like playing with my maps. As my Recorder 6 database hits 252,611 records, the maps are starting to be quite meaningful. So here are the rules...

  • I have to do it every day. So far so good, but this is the 3rd time I have attempted this. Don't think I got this far before though...
  • It must be something I have seen and have a photo of.
  • If I have a meaningful story to tell about the distribution of my records, I will. Including how many records I have for it, etc.
  • I'll include as much info as I can, including conservation statuses.
  • No repeats.
This means I need to keep track of what I have featured so far. I was surprised to see that out of 200 species, beetles were winning with 63 species featured and spiders were a long way behind at 37 species. I do tend to feature whatever I am writing about at the time for work, so they are often out of season. That will change come the summer! This does mean there is a tendency to feature rarer things, as that's what I usually photograph and have to write about in reports. In fact, 117 out of 200 species featured had some form of conservation status. My mean number of records for feature species is 41.8.

Will I ever run out species? Well, I add new species to my PSL list at a rate of about 1.2 to 1.5 species a day and this has been consistent for well over a decade. So I doubt it! But I might run out of species that make good photos. Not any time soon though!

Here is today's effort featuring the photo from the top of this post.

1/3 #speciesaday no. 200 is Pardosa paludicola. Nationally Rare & Endangered. Massive, near-black wolf spider, speckled with golden hairs. Known from less than 10 UK sites. Early adult period, although females later. White egg sacks, like a Pirata.

2/3 I have 16 records from two sites. 15 from Butcherlands next to Ebernoe in West Sussex and one male from a site in Hants. Both could be considered as pragmatic/hybrid rewilding projects (although this is likely coincidence).


3/3 At Butcherlands, as of 2022 it had spread to six fields after I first discovered it there in 2016.


I do sometimes put these on Facebook too but it really goes from a 10 minute thing to a 30 minute thing if I do this. So best to get on Twitter to see these daily updates.

There's nothing quite like the smell of Sphagnum on your hands

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Wednesday 31 January 2024 19:28

I went out on Monday, my first time outside this year (other than the Northern Waterthrush twitch - AKA, shivering in a ditch for five hours on the one day it didn't show well - one of the worst natural history experiences of my life, saved only by bumping into Harry Witts, then dipping the Canvasback then getting detoured the wrong way around the M25). I really needed a day out wandering around a good site with no targets in mind, just the chance of a few good spiders. Typically, I was recording across taxonomic groups but focusing on spiders. I tend to head to the same sites for casual recording, so thought I should try and explore a bit more of Broadwater Warren, as I was last up there in 2020. Now, I did a lot baseline surveying on this site 17 years ago when I worked at the RSPB (but I wasn't really into spiders then), so I am very fond of this site. I spent a bit more time on the open heath on Monday, although I gravitated towards the Sphagnum later. 

It didn't take long to find a new site and hectad record for Rhysodromus histrio (above) by sweeping mature Heather. Fantastically camouflaged against the Heather foliage, this really is a heathland obligate - quite a rare thing amongst spiders. Nationally Scarce and restricted in Sussex to the West Sussex heaths and Ashdown Forest. With all the Heather being restored at Broadwater, it's not surprising that this has turned up. I found a second animal a few 100 m away, so good to see it established there. I nearly stood on a Woodock and also found a few Notiophilus quadripunctatus carabids on the scrapes (also a Nationally Scarce species). I thought I had an exciting liny with this little critter, but it was just Gongylidiellum vivum. You can see how small it is - that's an old Heather flower. I headed to the bog.

One of the commonest spiders in the Sphagnum in the bog, I must have seen about 15 or so, was Hahnia pusilla. A tiny spider that I didn't photograph, another Nationally Scarce species. That's more than I have seen in my life, I first recorded it there in early 2020 but only remember seeing one. The other really common specie there, is the money spider Centromerus arcanus. Ashdown Forest and Broadwater Warren are real outliers for this predominantly north-western species. Check out the SRS page for it, no species illustrates better how the High Weald is an 'upland island' in the south east. I also forgot to photo that species too. Then I sieved Euryopis flavomaculata, which is quite the looker (photo below). Yet another Nationally Scarce species.

With my muscles atrophied from four months of sitting at the desk, I was exhausted. Got stuck in some deep Sphagnum and decided to head back. There are some tussocks under Alder carr I remembered but it was hard to access and disappointing suction sampling them. Walking back to the car, I spotted a large patch of lush Sphagnum under pines. I have noticed that when sieving Sphagnum, big thick clumps of Sphagnum palustre are particularly good. I also have a rule; if I see something worth sampling, I have to sample it. It payed off. It almost always pays off. Loads more Hahnia pusilla, Centromerus arcanus, a Heather Shieldbug and an exciting little golden money spider. Little golden money spiders in Sphagnum are almost always exciting. Clearly a Centromerus, I looked at it as soon as I got in.

It was clearly Centromerus cavernarum. Nationally Rare, Near Threatened and new to East Sussex. The last Sussex record was by Dick Jones in 1998 at the very far end of West Sussex. I had hoped to spot this in Beech litter in the Chilterns late last year and have looked for it at many different sites in a casual way, but it was not on my radar for Sphagnum under pines! I love this genus, it's the 9th species I have seen in the genus and my 542nd UK spider! Being my first new species of 2024, my target is to get to at least 550 species by the end of the year! Here is the spider's rather lovely epigyne.

Pan-species listing has a brand new website!

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Saturday 13 January 2024 18:13

How much things change in just three months! It only seems like five minutes ago we were discussing trialling putting the UK Species Inventory onto BUBO. It soon became evident that maintaining your list in BUBO and then adding your total on to the old BRC PSL website was just never going to work in the long run. So we started thinking, could we rebuild the website inside BUBO? If we could, it would need it's own identity though, to stop it getting lost in BUBO and it would need its own web address. We also got a slick new logo from Mark Lawlor, isn't it great?!

So after much work (mostly from the guys at BUBO I should add - but it's certainly taken up a lot of my time too), here it is: https://panspecieslisting.com. You don't need a new login ID and password, just use your existing one from BUBO and everything you have added will be there. They have done a fantastic job, it looks and feels great and does what we dreamt about when we first came up with the idea of a PSL website over 10 years ago but until now, were not able to do. 

The great thing is, it's run internally, so it will be easier to update and evolve than it ever was before. It's still free but it does cost to run it, so do please make a donation if you can. 

So what next for the BRC site?

Well, we'll keep it running for maybe the rest of the year, to give those a chance who have not added their lists on to the new site, to do so.

I will no longer be accepting new accounts to the old site. All new pan-species listers should go to https://panspecieslisting.com and sign up there.

Once you are happy to say goodbye to the old site, please write something along the lines of "As of 13th January 2024, my pan-species list is now up to date on https://panspecieslisting.com and I am no longer updating my list here" in the comments section of your profile.

A huge thanks to David Roy, John van Breda, Biren Rathod, Charles Roper and Bob Foreman as well as Biological Records Centre and Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre for their help and support over the last decade. It's a bit sad saying goodbye to the old site as I have pretty much used it every day for a decade but not that sad - as the new one is so awesome!

What's different on the new site?

We haven't gone for a like-for-like rebuild of the old site. Many of the features of the BRC site were not well used (especially those that emulated social media) so we haven't tried to replicate those. Energy has been focused on making the areas that were well used, much better.

Obviously, the huge difference is that you can now tick off all UK species, see other people's lists and use all the neat functions like 'targets' and 'blockers' but most of you will be used to this already, as it's been happening on BUBO for the last three months. See some of my earlier posts on this if you are not up to date.

We have updated the the 'Rankings News' section on the front page of the old site (on the new site, now called 'Listing Milestones'). I think it looks great, it doesn't have ranking changes this time, but more detail on progression through the taxonomic groups. And those grey boxes whenever you hit a multiple of a thousand? Yeah. We kept those, in all their glory.

We have new summary stats, showing the total number of species that all listers collectively have listed (currently 21,821) and the total number of listers and lists too.

We've updated the 'about' info (here), included an updated section on 'guiding principles' (a rebranding of what we used to call 'the rules').

That's enough of me waffling on, go and have a look around!

This just leaves one question. What exactly does happen when you reach 10,000 species? I have no idea, and it's a tightly guarded secret by the person who coded it. Here are some suggestions:

  • The site automatically orders you a cake.
  • Chris Packham offers to do all your data entry or all your washing up for a year (your choice).
  • David Attenborough comes around your house, impersonates your favourite song bird for one hour, then awards you an oversize medal that you MUST wear every day for the rest of your life.
  • You get this message: "You have completed pan-species listing. Your list will now be wiped and you must start again, or get a new hobby".
  • Some variation on the spectacular grey box, maybe with a gold frame and a fanfare of trumpets.

Why all pan-species listers should start putting their lists on BUBO

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Wednesday 6 December 2023 15:11

This post is really aimed at all the existing PSLers who have not yet started to get involved with BUBO. But it's also relevant to anyone wanting to get into pan-species listing - there has never been a better time. Those clever chaps at BUBO have been putting one group on at a time, for a couple of months now and we are passed the half way mark, with my 'big three' already up (moths, vascular plants & beetles). We've broke the back of it, with 64.4% of my list now on there. There are 150 people on the rankings in just two months, while it's took 10 years to get to 300 on the PSL page, while only around 100 of those have updated in the last two years.

First of, a quick reminder that the PSL area of BUBO is here.

What is BUBO?

It's a FREE (but donations are gratefully received) online tick-list, run by at least one pan-species lister, that was originally set up for birding. Over the last two months we have been putting up all of the UKSI, so that pan-species listers can manage their entire lists online, in one place for all to see. So why bother? Here's why...

It's totally transparent

For the first time, the PSL rankings are backed up with actual evidence of what each person has seen. This is far better than just putting a number in a box. It's so much better to see 1700 beetles than it is to just see the number 1700.

It's very convenient and accurate

My actual lists have grown and evolved since I started PSL. Back then I didn't run a database and there was no iRecord, so my lists existed in some very messy states. They didn't need to be anything else to generate a single number to populate the website. So going through everything with a fine-tooth comb has been a great exercise in data cleaning for me. I've really valued this time to go through them all. I have been very thorough with my work records in my database for the last decade but not so much with all of my casual recording. I have captured most of it, but not all and it's easy to miss things. Never again, with BUBO though!

It has some great functions, such as the 'targets'

The target function shows the species that you have not seen that most other PSLers have. And you can sort it by group too. Here are my top ten targets across all taxa.

I mean, I knew Common Hawker would be at the top of the list but I never thought Feral Goat would be my number two! I also had no idea how many people had seen Monarch! 45/150 people so far. And two fish in my top ten. I can't get enough of the targets feature...

And my top ten vascular plant targets. Pretty cool!


Common Bistort, I knew that would be at the top but never thought that Fen Orchid would be in 4th place. This is a real reflection on the fact that so many people go around the UK ticking off orchids. No need to go restrict yourself with PSL when everything is a tick! Wait a minute, I'm sure I've seen Pink-sorrel. I better get looking through my records again. This is totally why this feature is so useful. I've even had other people look through my list and remind me of things I have missed off (thanks Kev).

It's a great way of getting you lifers!

Your PSL list will be bigger for using BUBO. I have already realised a few really common things I had just never recorded before. One within three minutes of my house! I am also very much aware that most of my Hemipteran targets are aphids. So many more people are doing aphids, a real blind spot for me. So next summer, I'm hitting them hard.

It's a great leveller

Everything that is 'tickable' will be on there. Things that some people might have missed that others didn't, will be there for all to see. Some people used to tick hybrids, some didn't. Now they're up, everyone's ticking 'em!

Blockers

Here you can see the species that the least number of people have seen, starting with a list that only you have seen. Imagine how smug you'll feel scrolling through long lists of species that only you have seen!

You can also calculate how much of the UK's wildlife you've seen...

So far, of the groups that we have put up, I have seen 22.0%. So lots still to find!

The process of doing this is helping to tidy up the UK Species Inventory

The very nature of having a group of taxonomy obsessed uber-naturalists looking through the UK Species Inventory, is that we are better placed to spot errors and emissions than anyone else. This database of species is a vital part of biological recording in the UK, so a great example of PSL putting something back in.

Does it take ages?

Too busy to get your list up? The guys at BUBO might be able to help existing pan-listers as a one off to help get the majority of your list on, as long as it's in a sensible format. Get in touch if you fall into this category. However, I would say to all existing PSLers, that this is a one-off job you'll never have to do again and it's worth prioritising some time over the winter to get your list on. You don't need to add date and location for everything, or even anything (I haven't). I have prioritised getting my list on first, I can always come back to that at a later date if I decide to.

Is it the same as iRecord?

Absolutely not. This is not another recording platform, this is an output of recording. PSL & BUBO are both big supporters of iRecord, so nothing has changed here. Keep entering and submitting your data in the usual ways.

There's going to be challenges and other features to keep you entertained

Annual challenges and other features will be coming further down the line, so it won't be restricted to just the current set up. It's an exciting time to be a pan-lister, so why not get involved now? 

It's important to have everyone involved

I'm enjoying a brief period at the top until Mark updates, but there are two listers above him that it would be great to get involved and plenty of other PSLers who are yet to sign up to BUBO. To all those who fall into these categories, please do sign up to BUBO as soon as you can and start ticking! I hope this post has persuaded you of the benefits. What we really don't want is two separate communities developing out of this. The last 13 years of PSL has generated a real community vibe and we really need to keep that going, so having all the original, stalwart pan-listers together with the new recruits that have come directly from BUBO is really important.


What about the PSL website?

Please do keep your totals up to date here too, for the time being at least. It's a bit of faff and we are discussing a way forward to have everything in one place, but for the time being, the two sites are working in tandem. The PSL site is here https://psl.brc.ac.uk/home.

A new way to maintain your moth life list

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Sunday 29 October 2023 09:20

Wouldn't it be great if there was an online way to curate and store your moth lists? Well now there is! You can store your moth lists in BUBO. But wait, wouldn't it be great if not only counting your moths, you could count every single beetle, bird, lichen, slug and cetacean too? And not only that, compare what you have seen with others in a friendly, cooperative way and in doing so, become a serious all-round naturalist. There is! It's called pan-species listing and it has changed my life. It might just change yours.

Hold that thought. For now, back to moths...

The team at BUBO are releasing all the taxa in batches, to not overwhelm existing pan-species listers. I should point out that the official rankings are on the pan-species listing page so do please sign up to the pan-species listing website here and not just BUBO.

The moths are going to be released in batches, something like this:

  • Hawk-moths, prominents, footmen, tigers, burnets, clearwing, eggars, etc (all the macro families except geometrids and noctuids). Note, some moths that were in the Noctuidae are now in Erebidae and Nolidae, so there might be more in this first batch than you think!
  • Geometers
  • Noctuids
  • Pyralids
  • Tortricoids
  • The rest of the micros
We'll be releasing a batch every few days over the coming week/s. This lot only took me about 30 minutes to put on.

By the way, the top pan-species lister for moth is Tony Davis on 1702 species. Can you beat him?

If you are already a pan-species lister but have not used BUBO before or are not aware of what is going on here, read my blog here for more info. So far we have only put up butterflies, dragonflies, orthopteroids, herptiles, mammals and fish.

Note, that neither BUBO, nor the PSL website is a way to store records. PSL is all about sound biological recording, and we encourage people to submit records to their local recorders, recording schemes and through iRecord.

What's that I hear you say? Can I tick Kentish Glory from an egg? Yes. I have! If it's good enough for a record, it's good enough for my list. At the heart of PSL is the saying "your list, your rules." But do use your discretion!

The long game

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Thursday 19 October 2023 19:22

One of the best things about writing this book on pan-species listing has been the research. This is mainly taking the form of travelling to distant lands to meet various listers that I have not yet had the pleasure to meet. And last weekend was such a trip. One of those long PSL weekends where I forgot nearly everything else in the world accept what I was doing. Almost as good as a holiday for the head.  Anyways, before I do a full write up of the weekend, I have to write this post separately as it would not do it justice to embed it within one of my larger posts. It's a story ten years in the making and concerns what is best described as being simultaneously my 3rd invertebrate, 2nd spider, 1st invertebrate and 1st spider, that I've had new for the UK. Confused? Me too.

I'll start at the beginning. Rewind nearly a decade and read read this post from a twitch to Cornwall to see a Hermit Thrush on the 31st October 2013. I draw your attention to the spider at the end...a very unusual looking Enoplognatha. Here she is again.

 

Unsurprisingly, the spider did not make it to maturity. In the last four years since befriending Tylan, we have spoke at length about trying to get back to the exact same section of wall at the car park at Long Rock. Now when I first got to Cornwall on Saturday and I went along the beach with Sally Luker to see the Sea Daffodils at Marazion Dunes, I realised that the car park we were in was the wrong one. Looking along the beach, it did seem that there had been some development here. The crumbly old wall I found the spider in was no longer there. It seemed even more like a long shot, so much so that it was the very last thing I did on Monday morning on the 16th October 2023 and even then I nearly didn't bother.

I ran the suction sampler through the sea defences by the car park, reaching down between the rocks. The vegetation was a mixture of Sea-beet, Bramble agg., Ribwort Plantain and large crucifers - nothing special. I took one suction sample and amazingly, ten years later, found an adult male in the first sample. In fact, there was an immature in there too. It's clearly been established in this area for at least a decade. So what is it?

Well, there is only one species of native Enoplognatha in the UK I have not seen, the rare oelandica, that has not been seen in the UK since 1997. It doesn't seem right for it. In the last couple of years, Tylan has been sent a few specimens of Enoplognatha mandibularis as adventives (and it's also established on the Channel Islands) so we were pretty sure it was going to be this and after looking at the spider in detail, it is indeed Enoplognatha mandibularis, new to the UK on 31st October 2013. How cool is that? My 536th UK spider and 372nd spider of the year! Here are a few more shots of it.


It's quite small, or at least variable in size. Heavily annulated legs and with very large chelicerae. A white v-shaped mark at the front of the abdomen and two white spots further back (making an inverted smiley face!) that's also visible on my 2013 spider (although that immature female is less pied and more tri-coloured). 

In the intervening period, I have added over 4000 species to my pan-species list! So much has changed in a decade. Oh, and ten years ago I would have lost it at seeing just one Inflatable Cornish Pasty or Portuguese Man o' War but they were everywhere at Long Rock.

Pan-species listing has arrived on BUBO!

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Tuesday 17 October 2023 13:05


Well, this is exciting! We have always liked the idea of having a tick-list based on the UK Species Inventory (UKSI) on the Pan-species Listing (PSL) website but it was beyond our expertise, funding and available time. Those capable guys at BUBO however, have decided that some 17 years after the launch of the excellent (and free) bird listing website BUBO, that now is the time to add the UKSI to it. Effectively, meaning that you can use the sophisticated listing package to collate and maintain your PSL list.

A phased approach
First off, we are doing this several groups at a time over the next few moths. Starting with butterflies, dragonflies & damselflies and orthopteroids (crickets, grasshoppers, cockroaches, phasmids, earwigs etc.). The idea on this is to trouble shoot as we go, not overwhelm ourselves and the users in the process and allow the 'targets' feature to develop a little, away from the existing c5600 or so users who are all at this stage just able to list birds. The 'target's feature is great, it's a quantifiable way of showing you what your 'bogeys' are based upon the species that most other listers have seen that you have not. Bird lists will therefore NOT automatically populate your PSL list at this stage, but something like this is coming down the line.


What about the PSL rankings and website?
The PSL website will very much remain the home of the PSL rankings and more. Listers are encouraged to use BUBO simply to collate and maintain their lists, then add the totals in the relevant taxa category on the PSL website. There are some more features coming to the website in the next few months, to show a stronger link between biological recording and PSL - an exciting time for the movement. If you use BUBO and/or the PSL website, please do remember to submit your records by some other means, such as iRecord or direct to your local records centre or a recording scheme. In an ideal world, one website would link to the other and populate the totals in the appropriate places but we just don't have that luxury I am afraid. This is however, a huge improvement on collating your totals in spreadsheets, scribbling them down in notebooks or counting your sea-gooseberries on your fingers.

There are a number of possible scenarios:

1) Already on BUBO but not PSL?
If you are already listing birds on BUBO and think some or all of the other taxonomic groups are of interest for you, then please do join the PSL website here. You'll have to populate the PSL website with your species totals. Don't be put off by some of the huge lists there, you could always end up being a top lister for say butterflies in the short term. And by focusing on the lesser known areas of natural history, you could end up in the UK5000 club before you know it! The best thing to do if you are already on BUBO is to read this first and then please do also sign up to the PSL website here. Please do use your real name and put a line or two in your profile, as we get a lot of bots and fake accounts.

2) Already on PSL but not BUBO?
My priority here, managing a smooth transition for any existing PSLers who want to move to BUBO for managing their lists. First off, sign up to BUBO here. Select 'Create New List', then from the location name, select 'Britain, Ireland, Isle of Man & Channel Islands (PSL)'. The quick way to do this is to type PSL into the location drop down. The rest of this set up is all very intuitive. Then you can start ticking off your butterflies, dragonflies and crickets or whatever groups we have launched this week.

3) Already on both?
Well, I reckon you've probably got it figured out already, and with the above, it should all be very simple. Start at scenario 1 above if unsure.

4) New to PSL and BUBO?
Start by setting up a PSL account here, (do please use your own name and write a few lines to show you are a naturalist and not a fake account), read up on the movement first and get to grips with the idea. Then I would sign up to BUBO here and skip back to scenario 1 above. This is a great way to get into PSL from scratch, as you will be in a unique position, able to add a few groups and orders at a time with a community of other people doing the same and offering support. 

This (being the next few months) really is a once in a lifetime opportunity to break into PSL in a unique way. Be careful, it's addictive and it might just change your life!

Finally, do please consider donating to BUBO as although it's free, it does cost the guys to run it. As a top ten lister and founder of the movement, I really felt like I should set up something regular on a monthly standing order to help out. If others are able to do this too, no matter how small, it will make sure that PSL and BUBO can work together in perpetuity.

Coming soon...maybe mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish...or do you have any suggestions of what you'd like to see next? Everything is coming in time, we just didn't want to do it all at once or start with say, 4100 beetles!

The Adventures of Portland Bill

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Sunday 8 October 2023 15:44

Part 2 of the trip to Dorset. You can read part 1 here. This post is very moth heavy, and really focuses on a couple of places; Portland and the farm we stayed at, Gorwell Farm.


Gorwell Farm was just a lovely place to holiday and our hosts were very happy for me to do some recording on the farm. I would really recommend staying there if you were keen on wildlife. Actually, I would also recommend staying on any wildlife friendly farm as a great base for any PSL/nature-heavy holiday. You can contribute to what's possibly an under-recorded area and have a really positive impact in the process. We ran a moth trap every night and I knew things were going to be good as on the first night, I saw my first Scarce Bordered Straws in about 30 years!


There were five Delicates in the trap, they seem to be everywhere this year. The farm was just north of Abbotsbury by the way. Vestals were plentiful too.


Among the natives, Feathered Brindles were common. My only other records for are from Dungeness.


Then we got a couple of Convolvulus Hawk-moths! Always a great way to get people excited by moths.


We got a single Gem.

A single but very fresh White-speck.


And some interesting by-catch in the form of a Lesser Stag Beetle under the trap one day.

Yet the highlight of the mothing was this Old World Webworm which had only been a lifer a day or two before at the Obs! Apologies for the the naff photo, but it was about to fly and I only had my camera phone for some daft reason.


We did a bit of recording out on the farm and I found another stonking micro that I have only seen once before, another migrant and occasional resident, Tebenna micalis.


Non-moth inverts of interest included a new hectad record for Theridiosoma gemmosum (Nationally Scarce - just) and the weevil Protapion difforme (Nb).

A huge thanks to Mark, John and Simon Pengelly, we had a lovely time and I will definitely be back! Records coming your way very soon.

Then to Portland. On our first day we headed straight to Portland Bird Observatory (which I have since joined). The network of bird obs around the UK are such bastions of natural history knowledge, they're really important places for sharing and learning about our nature and PBO is no exception. We got there to a hub of activity, as a load of young ringers were staying there. I met Martin Cade, who was nothing other than hugely helpful, knowledgeable and welcoming. We had a look through the trap every time we were on Portland and there were plenty of goodies in it each time.

Radford's Flame Shoulder is clearly daily here. Imagine a regular Flame Shoulder jumping to hyperspace and the camera takes a shot of it just as it starts to move - that's Radford's. Stretch limos also come to mind.


And another lifer, that was abundant at the obs but not at Gorwell at all, was the gorgeous Beautiful Gothic. What a moth!


Other highlights included, Epischnia asteris. A smart looking pyrale that feeds on Golden Samphire.

Finally caught up with Oak Rustic!

And the rare migrant, Antigastra catalaunalis.

I did a bit of recording on the grounds of the Obs and came up with a few goodies. Nigma puella (NS), Berytinus hirticornis (Nb), Alopecosa cuneata (NS), Mecinus circulatus (Nb) and Lasaeola prona (NR). This latter was a new hectad record for this rare spider. I will send the records off to Martin shortly as a thank you!

I finally ticked my biggest bogey bird. As I first saw Balearic Shearwaters some 30 years ago in the Med, I have really not been that bothered about seeing them here, despite doing a lot of sea watching historically (usually in the spring though). I got great views off of Portland Bill.

Karen found a Beautiful Gothic in the toilets and I did a bit of suction sampling on the cliffs, where I found a Beautiful Gothic wing. This is clearly a really abundant moth where it occurs! Lasaeola prona was also here.

Beautiful Gothics everywhere down there!


Agroeca inopina was nice to see.


Then we headed to Tout Quarry, where I got permission to record from Dorset Wildlife Trust. This is a really nice invertebrate habitat. The commonest liny was Trichoncus saxicola, it was everywhere.

It did not take long to get something interesting. The scarce bug Heterogaster artemesiae (which feeds on Wild Thyme). This is a really scarce species and might be new to the site.

And nearby the Nationally Scarce bug Dicranocephalus agilis, only seen this a few times. This one feeds on Sea and Portland Spurge, by the coast obv.

Yet the highlight was getting a spider new to Portland and my 534th UK spider. This Nationally Rare/Vulnerable species is only known from about six locations in the country, so this is a really good find. Zodarion fuscum.


It was so good to finally get onto Portland and get some records. Here is where we got too! I will be back!

Nuts in May

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Thursday 5 October 2023 19:39

It's been a mad year. I've mad over 42,000 records in just over nine months, already a record for a year for me. I am now back writing the book on pan-species listing, so what better way is there to holiday in such circumstances, than a pan-species listing holiday?! I can't believe that I made 1194 records in a week but I did and it was really enjoyable. A huge thanks to Karen for putting up with my intensity but I really needed this holiday. As you can see, we got about quite a bit. Too much for one blog really. 50 miles walked exactly, in fact.


We started off nipping into Arne on the way down there, and leisurely ticked the long-staying Forster's Tern. My 2nd new bird in September. 

If you think that is a bad photo, then check this out. The only shot I managed of my first and only Large Velvet Ant. So pleased to finally catch up with one of these. I spotted this male in flight and new immediately it was something I had not seen before.


And then I had a go at searching for Hairy Nuts Disco. The fungus that grows on last year's Sweet Chestnut husks. A couple of birders walked past and I wanted to share the find, hoping to lure them in and then drop the name on them. This happened:

Me "Would you like to see a cool fungus?" *giggling to myself quietly*
Woman "Not really" as she and her husband sped up.

I only wanted to show them my Hairy Nuts Disco :(

I literally burst out laughing. It's a good job she didn't come over. 

We called in at Corfe Castle, I was channeling my inner Keith from Nuts in May. If you haven't seen this 1976 film, it is well worth a look. Each year I get a bit more like Keith...

Keith: "Look at this view, Brownsea Island, Round Island, the Lakeland of Dorset...pity about the power station in the background, never mind...there are the heaths, Newton Heath, Rempstone Heath, Witch Heath...disused railways line going up to Wareham...and the great nimbocumulus rising above it all like great puffs of cotton wool..."

I literally stood in the same place and delivered such a monologue without realising just how Keith I have become. I rewatched it last night and you know what, I don't really care! I'm proud to be a bit Keith from Nuts in May!


We stayed at Gorwell Farm, a wildlife friendly farm that were happy for us to run the moth trap out of the cottage. I will cover the farm and moth traps in more detail in part 2, and I think I will also cover Portland Bird Observatory and all the Portland stuff in that section also. This one then, basically being everything else. 

After spending the day on Portland, we headed to Chesil Beach. A Brown Hare on the shingle was a surprise but the highlight for me was finding an adult female Phlegra fasciata under a rock. There were very few rocks to turn, so finding Scaly Cricket this way was looking unlikely.

And it's always a pleasure to see Sea Pea!

The next day we headed to Cerne Abbas, then onto Radipole Lake RSPB Reserve to look for the rare spider Hyspsosinga heri. It didn't take too long to find five immatures, all in one place. Very large and orange for a Hypsosinga, and we only found them where the water table was high. So, highly distinctive even as an immature. Now only known from this general area, so listed as Nationally Rare and Vulnerable.

I also found this Arocatus sp. (I forget which one the consensus is that we have), have only seen this bug that feeds on Alder a few times so far.


We headed to a ghost walk in Weymouth. It was just the night for it and my coat was better than the tour guide's.


Then we headed over to Eype. I went there in the summer and found the Cliff Tiger Beetles there easy enough but I had unfinished business with Drypta dentata. I found five but it was hard work. What a beetle!


This shot makes it look much more daring than it really was.

I got a few other beetle lifers, Curimopsis setigera being one.

There were loads of adult male Synageles venator, only the 2nd time I have seen this Nationally Scarce ant-mimic jumping spider. I saw seven, all adult males.

But getting my first adult Boat Bug was also exciting.

Then back to Chesil Beach, where the tiny Iberina candida was common. Lots of mature males and female of this Nationally Rare species.

I finally caught up with probably my most wanted species, Scaly Cricket. They were really common once I baited some makeshift pitfalls with a Cornish pasty. In fact, I found them everywhere I looked with 69 individuals found. There must be millions of animals on that beach.

Then to Kimmeridge Bay for the big low on Saturday. It was a bit of a struggle, despite the low tide, due to strong winds and poor light. Yet I got a few new seaweeds, including this Peacock's-feather. It looks a lot more impressive in real life, very unlike a sea weed at all.

A few clingfish were fun, including this Cornish Sucker.

I wrestled a rock for ages to get a shot of what looked like a blob of jelly sitting on top of some star ascidians, thinking it was a nudibranch only to decide it wasn't and walk away from it with just one poor photo. I then realised when I got home that it was a nudibranch (you can see the rhinophores). I got some help from Julie Hatcher and was pleased to see the fact that it was feeding on the star ascidians was a good indicator that it was Goniodoris castanea! A lifer, result. All the nudibranchs I see are like 5 mm long, as was this one.

So it was pretty full on! Yet most of the excitement for me really came from moth trapping, at Gorwell and Portland and in Tout Quarry, but that will have to wait until part two!

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