Cornish suckers

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Friday 1 November 2013 17:53

If you look really closely in the above photo, you might just be able to make out Cornish Elm. Yesterday I found myself thundering down the M5 with Mark Telfer, Neil Fletcher and Seth Gibson to, at very short notice, twitch the Hermit Thrush down at Porthgwarra. It put up a fight and we didn't see it for two hours or so, so it was all the better when it did show some five hours after being last seen. Prolonged views were had by all. I threw coffee all over myself and was only part way through my pasty when the inconsiderate bird appeared. It was indeed a pretty little thing. However, I was really surprised when I saw the above photo to see how small Mark's arms appear in relation to his head.

We called in VERY briefly at Penzance to see the beautiful Maidenhair Fern. So quickly that I forgot to take a photo. Several donuts later around B&Q car park and the immature Rose-coloured Starling was nowhere to be seen. I was itching to get down to the seafront and turn some stones over so we headed to Longrock Beach. I attempted to search for the White-rumped Sandpiper but my heart wasn't in it and I had non-avian ticks on the mind. Seth, scopeless, was already on the beach where he found these amazing Blue-rayed Limpets. A stunning species I have wanted to see for years. Grey Top Shells were also present.

Hope you don't mind me using your photo Mark!

I turned over some stones and found a very cool looking coastal staph called Cafius xantholoma that Mark identified. Also nearby was a cool little red linyphiid I identified called Ostearius melanopgyius also new for me. Mark found three specimens of a very scarce snail known as the White Snail Theba pisana

Mark also showed me a few slugs, I still struggle to be interested in them. The thing that has got me most excited though was a specimen I collected from under a stone Seth turned over. It certainly didn't look like anything I had seen before and after dismissing the orb-weavers, I realised it was a well marked theridiid. It soon dawned on me that it was one of the more interesting Enoplognathas and after a few frantic emails back and forth to Peter Harvey today, he told me it is unfortunately not yet quite mature. No wonder I struggled to match it up to a species. It would seem that the most likely option is that it is Enoplognatha oelandica, which is RDB3 and would perhaps be new to Cornwall. If it's not that, it might even be more interesting. Here's the problem. I might have to keep it alive as long as May/June for it to reach maturity. So you might be watching this space for quite a while yet.

A massive thank you, particularly to Neil for driving all that way, that takes real stamina. The exchange of species during these encounters with other listers is thrilling, I really enjoy these times. Salad days indeed.

So I added at least 10 species, ate one Cornish pasty, watched a grown man lose it over a cloud formation (it was a VERY cool cloud formation), travelled for 15 hours over 600 miles to spend five hours in Cornwall but loved every minute of it and ended the day with this photo at a service station. What are the chances of that?! So where we going next?

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