Even the sea creatures have gone hipster in Brighton

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Sunday 21 August 2016 12:04

You can't walk far in Brighton without being confronted with an array of outlandish novelty beards these days. Except perhaps when rock-pooling. Or so I thought. Olle found this Bearded Mussel under a stone at a Shore Search event. So even the shellfish have turned hipster. What's next? Anemones with tattoos? Crabs with dungarees? Fish with over-sized glasses, daft hair-cuts and weird moustaches?

Precisely my point, look at this idiot. Who does he think he is?! You don't have any of this nonsense with a Shanny. No the Tompot Blenny is a true hipster. That moustache is ridiculous. Take a look at yourself mate.

In all seriousness I was totally stoked to find Tompots at Saltdean just off Brighton beach. We also found:

Rock Goby (2) - new to the site.
Tompot Blenny (2) - new to the site
Shanny (1) - always the commonest fish, can't believe we saw (well caught) only one.
Five-bearded Rockling (many young ones)
Long-spined Sea Scorpion (1 young one)
One unidentified fish that I think was a small Sea Bass.

In the past I have also had there:
Sea Bass
Corkwing Wrasse
Narrow-headed Clingfish
Garfish (dead)

So it's proving to be a great spot for fish. I always get really carried away with fish rock-pooling. So much fun.

The Devil's Jumps

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Saturday 20 August 2016 09:42

Somewhere along the South Downs Way in deepest West Sussex is a small and isolated yet rich and diverse site managed by the Murray Downland Trust called the Devil's Jumps. So named for the sequence of five Bronze Age barrows that rise up from the site and have a rich chalk-grassland flora. Last weekend I started the fifth of sixth surveys there with Mike Edwards and it wasn't long until I swept what I initially though was a washed out Sphecodes. Then Mike became REALLY excited and shouted that's Andrena marginata! We hadn't even got close to the barrows at this stage and as we approached I saw the grassland was so dominated by Small Scabious that it only took seconds to find another two females. All in all we saw five females in total. Although currently considered nationally scarce (Na) this bee is one of the most declined bees in Europe and is therefore a hugely significant find for the survey. As the bee is only taking pollen from Small Scabious, its pollen baskets are white. Quite unlike the other rare bee on scabious, Andrena hattorfiana, which has pink pollen baskets from the Field Scabious/Greater Knapweed that it feeds on.

We went on to Heyshott Down itself and despite masses of Small Scabious, there were very few bees there at all. However, almost every flower of Wild Carrot had one of these wasps on it being Tiphia femorata. We also saw several Nomada flavopicta. Three new aculeates for me in one day! I'm up to 330 species for the survey so far and I still have all Mike's idents, my idents and this month's notes to write up!

Can you think of a better name for this amazing fungus?

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Friday 19 August 2016 07:23

During an invertebrate survey of Ebernoe Common yesterday, we stumbled across this amazing fungus just starting to grow out of a decaying Beech tree. It's big too, each of these fruting bodies is about fist-sized. It took a little while to identify but I am happy this is the Silky Rosegill (Volvariella bombycina). Another fungi that looks like some kind of dessert. I'm thinking coconut ice cream or white chocolate Ferroro Rocher. I love the scaly cap and the presence of a volva is quite odd for a species growing out of a tree. I think the scientific name is therefore more descriptive than the English. Here are some more shots.
This last one inspired me to come up with the alternative name of Forest Knockers. I'm sure in a few days it will look even more spectacular as it opens up fully. So, I think Silky Rosegill is a rubbish name for this species (I can't see the gills and it's not really silky) so I ask you, what would you call it? Please leave your comments on the blog.

Anyway. A few invertebrates from the survey. Here is the rare but expanding Episinus maculipes which I recorded new to Sussex last month at Ebernoe too. I've since also found it at Heyshott Down.

And this one was new for me. Cassida vittata (my 8th Cassida) and I wasn't expecting to see this one in the woods. Everyday is made better by a tortoise beetle. Especially one with metallic bits on it!

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