Thursday, 21 September 2017


The first time I found a Louse Fly, around a year ago, I remember thinking it was a Tachinid and then having no luck I think I finally stumbled across the Rhinophoridae key that is an appendix to Steven Falk's draft key to Calliphoridae.

Yesterday I managed to complete my set of Fife Rhinophoridae with Melanophora roralis. This was my third species this year. Considering the county list at the start of the year was 2 species that's not bad going!

This is the blackest of black flies. Its wings are black. Even its calypters are black. And its halteres. Remarkable. At first when I swept and potted it I expected to just confirm it was Melanomya nana, which is a pretty common fly here (Little Black Blowfly or something like that), so when I popped it out under the microscope last night I was well pleased!

Actually I lied a bit earlier. Since this species was only known from the Isle of May it means there was only one mainland rhinophorid species at the start of the year. NBN shows only 10 records for the family in Scotland, which probably shows a remarkable dearth of dipterist activity as much as anything else.

I also see that NBN has zero records for Rhinophora lepida for Scotland, which maybe I ought to have checked out earlier (did i and I forgot? Maybe). In fact it has apparently a very southerly distribution, though I have two vouchers of it from the square this year!

Anyway, here's the black fly, my only ID success of last night but I can live with that!

The blackest fly

new printed labels

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Emmesomyia grisea - new to Scotland (probably)

So I finally took a spade to the beach last night to dig up some lugworms. New species are proving a slog at the moment. Birds aren't playing ball though the flies and fungi are sort of ticking along. Two easy ones yesterday though (in ID terms - digging sand is still work!). However the third from yesterday was more interesting.

I decided the other night to give the proper respect to an anthomyiid that I netted at the weekend. Very happy I did too as it's the most northerly record for the species and more than likely new to Scotland - Emmesomyia grisea. As I've been making progress with calypterates it's been bugging me that I've sort of ignored the Anthomyiidae as difficult. Don't get me wrong - they ARE difficult, but they are getting easier. The difficulty lies in their similarity and the consequent nuances of setae organisation (and naming!) that you have to understand to work the keys. Females are still off the list, for the moment at least.

957 Helophilus pendulus A hoverfly
958 Arenicola marina Blow Lugworm
959 Emmesomyia grisea An anthomyid fly

Monday, 18 September 2017

Fly by night

After Friday's new Fife fly while searching for moss I found another new Fife fly while searching for moths. This is a cracking little thing and my first in the Keroplatidae. It's only Fife's 2nd recorded one as far s I can see though there must be lots more. Fortunately it did me the honour of attending my MV trap and even more fortunately (for a change) wasn't in the Mycetophilinae so I actually had a key for it!

I bagged some water cress also on Friday and was pleased to confirm the species which I had suspected was really the more common (in the county at least) hybrid.

Sunday turned up some nice mushrooms and all-in-all not a bad weekend, though a September finish seems to be drifting away

Macrocera (no kidding!) vittata

oficinale water cress

Lovely little Entoloma

Blackening Waxcap

946 Macrocera vittata A fungus gnat
947 Hygrocybe coccinea A Waxcap
948 Hygrocybe conica Blackening Waxcap
949 Claviceps purpurea Ergot
950 Polietes lardarius A muscid fly
951 Russula ochroleauca A mushroom
952 Scolopostethus thomsonii A mirid bug
953 Entoloma serrulatum Blue-edged Pinkgill

Friday, 15 September 2017

Two steps forward ...

... one step back.

The two steps forward are a nice new county-first soldierfly Sargus bipunctatus and the more routine Spruce Carpet moth. Yesterday lunchtime, having added one moss species to the list, I decided to target another. Not long ago I discovered that a small stream ran through someone's garden and exited at the coast. This wasn't apparent until the house owner cleared the garden of all the overgrown vegetation and exposed a couple of small "pools" (Belfast sinks embedded in the ground!) . So I went to the bottom of it, outside his garden, to see if there were mosses on a couple of exposed rocks. Short answer is yes, but my first guess at ID (a Hygroamblystegium) looks wrong so we'll come back to that.

I did, though, consider that this different piece of habitat might make it worth carrying a net - good call! Settled on a leaf beside a small seepage-type area was the female Sargus.

A somewhat subdued moth-trapping session last night produced only Spruce Carpet. So far. I may have another once I figure out what it is!

On the "step back" the discovery of Lepista flaccida has rolled out to engulf the previously claimed Clitocybe gibba. Examples of the latter proved to be the former under close examination! This means some record revision must be done, probably including for last year. Dammit.

As I approach 1000 I want to be as critical as i can in reviewing the records so that the total is as solid as it can be. Chances of error are still > 0 of course, but that's just a fact of life.

Sargus bipunctatus


Sprucey bonus
Los numeros:
942 Sargus bipunctatus A Soldier Fly
943 Thera britannica Spruce Carpet

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Funnel fun

Got up early this morning to watch some birds fly past but they weren't co-operatiing. They're probably still sulking since they threw me a Ross's Goose last week and I hadn't bothered to go and look. It flew over a nearby watchpoint and probably right through the middle of my square. Anyway ... a Kingfisher settled on the rocks in front of me before hovering over the tideline and making a dive. First time I've seen a Kingfisher hover (well, a British one) so that was my highlight.

A couple of additions from yesterday, but one of them may lead to the loss of another as I may have been misidentifying all the Lepista flaccidas (Tawny Funnel) on my patch as Clitocybe gibba. Doh! I feel like I had nailed the ID but now I need to go back and check. The Eurhynchium I was amazed to find that I hadn't recorded already.

On the ivy front things are looking up, so I expect to spend a lot of time there in the coming weeks.


Lepista flaccida

Eurhynchium striatum

941 Lepista flaccida Tawny funnel
942 Eurhynchium striatum A moss

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Game's a bogey!

For those outside the correct geographic area the above phrase means more or less "match abandoned". I now need over 4 species per day to complete in September. Now if there were two days left I might feel optimistic about that with a final push but 4 spp./day over 17 days is optimistic I reckon. I do have some fungi-bothering friends coming nearer the end of the month and I may do a couple of extra shifts on the moth trap but in reality even the stocks are becoming bare.

On the brighter side two new flies last night, so forward momentum isn't completely stalled.

Opomyza florum

Neuroctena anilis

(edit: due to a hardcoded spreadsheet cell the spp./day wasn't updated and is in fact only 3.5! I am actually 9 spp. behind minus whatever i can scrape out today)

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

The Great Slowing

After a hell-for-leather rush over the 900 barrier it seems that the next slow cycle is here. Material is on pins and in pots but the wheels of identification grind exceeding slow. Fungi especially I can spend a lot of time on without a satisfactory answer.

Last night I managed to key out both of the things I attempted, only to discover that I already had recorded one of them. Well, it was an anthomyiid and I felt pretty pleased about it anyway, especially since of 47 couplets in the genus key it keyed out on the 47th!

The nice shiny new list addition is the solitary wasp Mellinus arvensis. This is the 4th one I've keyed out in my new solitary wasp book and takes me to 33 for hymenptera - about 23 more than I expected I think.

Birds are just .. let's not talk about birds ... have a wasp

Mellinus arvensis
Also since I have a photo here's Hygrocybe acutoconica, which used to be called H.persistens. The latter (former) name was much better because this is one tough Hygrocybe - with a gracile stipe and not discouloring it will hang around for weeks.

Actually on birds maybe it's worth noting the first returning Turnstones and first passage Linnets (lunchtime). They aren't new but why not make a note of it. It can't be all about the new stuff, can it?

933 Erigone dentipalpis A Linyphiid spider
934 Coenosia mollicula A muscid fly
935 Hygrocybe acuticonica Persistent Waxcap
936 Tephritis vespertina A tephritid fly
937 Mellinus arvensis A solitary wasp

Friday, 8 September 2017

Flogging molle

Last night I visited the usual haunts with little success - hoping to connect with a Black Tern or perhaps some lovely full-spooned Pomarine Skuas ... anyway ... that didn't happen. So I took an unusual route home along the roadside. I haven't invested much time on that area, which is probably a mistake. It's better to cover diverse habitats obviously. Anyway, it came up trumps with a garden Birch producing a single Brown Birch Bolete, a short grass verge yielding Lesser Trefoil, which must have been there forever, and some nice Short-spined Puffballs (Lycoperdon molle). Really "spined" is a bit of an overstatement.

birch bolete

Lycoperdon molle

Lesser Trefoil

930 Lycoperdon molle Soft-Spined Puffball
931 Leccinum scabrum Brown Birch Bolete
932 Trifolium dubium Lesser Trefoil

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Two for one

It's always nice to get a two for one deal so when I picked up a Giant Puffball yesterday I was even more pleased to find a new bug perched on it. Kicking myself I had left my phone (and therefore camera) in work at lunchtime so I couldn't get a shot in situ, but you can see its magnitude in the "captive" shot. This was much smaller than the last one I found which was bigger than a basketball. Good enough, though, and I fried a slice in butter until it was golden brown - delicious! A bit of random sweeping on the way back to the car turned up another bug by way of Pinalitus cervinus, and one of three Phaonias I keyed out last night was new for the list too - P.tuguriorum.

Giant Puffball

Ribautiana debilis

Phaonia tuguriorum

Phaonia tuguriorum

Pinalitus cervinus

926 Calvatia gigantea Giant Puffball
927 Ribautiana debilis A plant hopper
928 Phaonia tuguriorum A muscid fly
929 Pinalitus cervinus A mirid bug

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Myco mayhem

So faced with an evening of microscopy and a wet lunchtime what should one do? Ordinarily I would have worked a small backlog of flies but since I worked three inverts last night and only got repeats I decided instead to poke around in the woods this lunchtime. Keying fungi can require patience but since I'm home alone with the manchild I'll have lots of time after he's off to bed. Still there was some easy pickings to be had.

Xerocom(ell)us sp. with Pinus

Box set

Common Rustgill

Deer Shield (not new)

Gymnopus peronatus - Wood Woollyfoot (not new)

Melanoleuca sp.

Gymnopus erythropus

Russula sanguinaria
A nice few additions that might pull me back in line with 3 spp./day to finish in September. I should be able to cross that threshold ... hopefully.

922 Gymnopus erythropus Red-legged Toughshank
923 Gymnopilus penetrans Common Rustgill
924 Melanoleuca melaleuca Bald Knight
925 Russula sanguinaria Bloody Brittlegill

Monday, 4 September 2017

"Here's to swimmin' with bow-legged wimmin"

From one of my favourite movies of all time, Jaws.

Here's a bow legged gent, however, Morellia aenescens. I've been goofing off a bit playing out of my square with fungus-bothering friends. It was about time I got some more social activity and stretched my legs. Normal service will be resumed when my missus goes away and I have two evenings of microscopy. Hopefully I can make up for my truancy then. Still ticking over, though.

917 Adalia decempunctata 10-spot Ladybird
918 Xylota segnis A hoverfly
919 Morellia aenescens A muscid fly
920 Coprinellus disseminatus Fairy Inkcap

Friday, 1 September 2017

End of August - 916

916 is a pretty unassuming number, but for me it will always mean this:

A bike I drooled over, but fortunately never had as I would probably have killed myself.

As it is it just means a pretty decent total going into September, with a view to rounding off the other 84 species over the next 30 days. Last night was a good result as I managed to extract 3 from 3 flies with two of them lifers. Given I've seen something like 3% of the island's fly species, a high percentage of lifers can be expected. They were all little, but delightful in their own way, and I was especially pleased about the doli. It almost fooled me by having two tiny dorsocentrals in front of the main three, but fortunately the species list of Fife had alerted me to the species already recorded in the county, of which this is one. I might have easily gone wrong otherwise.

Sepsis punctata - a common enough sepsid

sepsid femur - a strong character in ID

Medetera petrophila

Fannia parva

I want to give a credit here to a great new acquisition - Harrap's Wildflowers. Recommended on the site of Dr.M I picked it up and immediately it rescued my record of Heath Groundsel from the ignominy of misidentification I had given it as Sticky Groundsel. It looks like it's going to be one of those books which gets a lot of use. Dr.M's wildflower book review is here: link

914 Fannia parva A lesser house-fly
915 Sepsis punctata A sepsid fly
916 Medetera petrophila A long-legged Fly

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Moff magic

So last night I decided that I would blow the dust off the moth trap and stick it in the woods. I drove round to the woods and duly set up everything except the cable that connects the battery, which I had apparently left at home. Doh!

Leaving the trap set up and trusting that any passerby in the dark would not bother the trap I rushed back home (2 mins) to grab the cable. Rummaging around in the garage I couldn't find the damn thing so I did what anybody would do in the circumstances - I grabbed the generator re-borrowed recently for a bioblitz and the mains MV trap top end and bolted back to the woods.

Naturally the first thing I found on my return was the missing cable that I had put inside the moth trap. It only helps to be clever when you can do it at both ends! Anyway, the long and short of it is that I ended up running an actinic in the woods for 1.5 hours and an MV with no bottom end on the coast, where the generator noise would be less likely to bother anybody. If I'd done this through the year I'd be "finished" by now! I'll do it again after a suitable break now that I know it's possible to use the generator without the police showing up. There should still be a few moth species left in the tanks.

 I did hope I would get an Aphodius rufipes, which is a frequent light trap visitor in the garden, but I have no complaints. No boost to my horrible beetle tally though. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was wandering along the path looking at something in a pot and getting tripped up by a hedgehog. Sorry, buddy!

I should also credit here one of my neighbours, Blair, who caught the Tipula while we were chatting next to the MV and successfully transferred it from hand to pot. It won't be the last T.paludosa, but it was the first!

Hedgehog football

Copper underwing

Riband Wave

Parsnip Moth

909 Idaea aversata Riband Wave
910 Amphipyra pyramidea Copper underwing
911 Tipula paludosa A cranefly
912 Luperina testacea Flounced Rustic
913 Depressaria radiella Parsnip Moth