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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