30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 22

A bit of a conundrum today: I suspect this is Smicronyx jungermanniae, which would be a lifer, but I admittedly have no experience on whether this species needs microscopy or anything to confirm.

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It was on a fencepost in a grassy area on Flamborough Head, but it could have been blown from anywhere as it was quite windy today and I would be extremely grateful if someone could shed a bit of light on this for me.

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30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 17

I got today’s lifer in quite an unexpected place, I was at a Leeds University open day and I rescued what I thought was a Phyllopertha horticola from a busy set of steps, but I took a picture and when I got home I realised it was a Welsh Chafer, Hoplia philanthus. Sadly, I discovered that many more had been trodden on on the steps.

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Hoplia philanthus

I think there’s something funky about its single claws, they make it look really dainty, but at the same time they remind me of eagle or Velociraptor claws!

30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 16

I’ve frequently mentioned the path I take to get home from college in this series of blog posts, but today I actually took some time to search for insects off the path in the meadow next to it. I was rewarded with this lifer, a stunning click beetle called Agrypnus murinus. Here it is:

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Agrypnus murinus

I’ve heard it said that beetles seen in flight usually turn out to be interesting, and this one landed on my shirt. It really is exquisite with its mottled elytra and thorax, and in flight it shows a bright orange abdomen, so pretty distinctive! It looked completely different in flight in my peripheral vision, so much so that I wondered if I had the same insect that I had seen when I picked it off my shirt. Could this be an adaptation to look like a wasp or something poisonous (with bright colours) in flight, but be camouflaged when it is on the ground?

30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 13

Nemophora degeerella was my lifer for the day, another pretty micro-moth, on my way home from college. But that wasn’t my most exciting find today.

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Nemophora degeerella

I found a Carabid which I recognised as a Panagaeus. Both species in the genus are very scarce, but I’m fairly certain I had bipustulatus, the commoner of the two. From the relatively breif views I got of it, I saw that the amount of orange on the elytra fitted bipustulatus better. But the habitat is much more typical for the commoner species, on a dry railway embankment. This is potentially a very significant find as it would be the second Yorkshire site away from Spurn. Unfortunately, it was too quick for a photo.

30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 9

Another leaf beetle!

I think I’ve had quite a few leaf beetles in this series because I tend to identify the most interesting or beautiful creatures first, and leaf beetles are a favourite of mine with their metallic sheen and rounded appearance.

Here it is, the Green Dock Beetle, Gastrophysa viridula:

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Green Dock Beetle

I think we can all agree that leaf beetles are up there with the best insects in the country.

I was really lucky that on the same Dock as I found this female (bulging with eggs) there were also males and many larvae.

30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 8

Today was my first day back at college (unfortunately), which meant I walked through some nice invertebrate-rich scrubby farmland on my way back. This got me a lifer, the wonderfully marked 14-spot Ladybird.

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14-spot Ladybird

However, the impromptu meeting with this beetle meant I didn’t have my camera on me, hence the quite poor phone shot.

The merged markings on this individual gave me some initial confusion but this is common in this species.

30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 5

Day 5 of my challenge and I’m still going strong. I noticed this beetle in a field edge around my village this morning. It is the common but very beautiful leaf beetle; Chrysolina staphylaea. 

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Chrysolina staphylaea

The photo really doesn’t do the beetle justice, it is an amazing deep, metallic red. Leaf beetles are one of the beetle groups that I’m trying to get to grips with, so this was a very welcome tick!

This also demonstrates the importance of field edge as a habitat, there will be countless other organisms like this (and also rarer ones) living in them so agricultural policy needs to recognize this and protect and enhance good field edge habitat. Topical for the upcoming general election! Keep nature in mind when you vote.

30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 2

Day 2 of my challenge and I’m still on track.

Today, I visited Wells Woods in Norfolk and I noticed this moth fluttering about near the edge of the pines on the beach side. It’s the pretty, but common, Common Wave (clue’s in the name). I probably should have seen this species by now but they all count!

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Common Wave

I also noticed this weevil that I believe is Philopedon plagiatum, also a new species for me. They are all around the dunes there (they are associated with Marram Grass) and they’re quite variable.

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Philopedon plagiatum

Other (non-lifer) highlights of the day included Sandwich Terns and this nest of Great Spotted Woodpecker.

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Great Spotted Woodpecker chick in nest hole

30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 1

How the series will work:                                                                                                               For this year’s 30 Days Wild project I have decided to set myself the challenge of finding and blogging about at least one pan-species lifer on every day of the month of June. I’m probably going to target some birds and butterflies but aside from that I’ll see where the road takes me.

For those of you who don’t know; pan-species listing is the act of keeping a list of all the species you have seen in Britain, much as many people (including myself) do for birds.

Pan-species listing is a great way to make sense of all of the more obscure taxonomic groups in our country and a link to the website can be found here: http://www.brc.ac.uk/psl/.

At the beginning of the month, my list stood at 1437 species and if anyone sees that I have identified anything wrong, please let me know!

Day 1:                                                                                                                                                   We kick off the series in North Norfolk, and this morning I hit Burnham Overy Dunes as I have been doing recently, mainly looking for migrant birds which have all but failed to appear so far. However, the insects have been good value and today was no different; I found the extremely rare, beautiful, North Norfolk-restricted Clanoptilus barnevillei, on a hawkweed flower. It is our only malachite beetle with all-green elytra, my first lifer of the day and one with great rarity to boot.

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Clanoptilus barnevillei

My family and I then got a bus to Holkham and walked back to Burnham Overy through the dunes and pines. Along the edge of the pines I was looking for the pits of the larvae of Suffolk Ant-lion, Euroleon nostras, which, like Clanoptilus barnevillei is rare and restricted to sandy soils. I had a little experience in this as I had found a pit on the edge of the trees next to the Burnham Overy Dunes, though I had failed to observe any activity.

After not too much time looking, I located a pit, and as soon as I tickled the side of the cone-shaped pit with a piece of grass and the larva started flicking sand at it and eventually attempted to grab the grass with its jaws. Crazy things!

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Ant-lion

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Ant-lion pit

Being in such an amazing dune system there is inevitably more lifers which need identifying, but I have picked the most impressive. Not a bad start to the series!