Wednesday, 13 March 2013


In my last post, I showed the buds of Barren Strawberry. The flowers have now opened:

Barren Strawberry
As I was taking the shot, my eye was attracted to a flash of purple to my right and I saw the first flowers of Germander Speedwell:

Germander Speedwell

The second surprise for today was the sudden appearance of the Scarlet Elf Cap - Sarcoscypha austriaca var. austriaca:
Scarlet Elf Cap
This isn't a scarce species in damp woodland at this time of year, but it's the first time I have seen it on this patch.

Third surprise was this little Sepsid fly:

Sepsis punctum
Sepsids are known as 'Semaphore flies' due to their habit of waving their spotted wingtips up and down in some sort of signalling ritual. This one was busy cleaning itself, so I'm pretty sure it had just emerged, triggered by the warm sunshine. New identification.

Next surprise was the Cow Parsley beginning to open. I don't normally expect to see that until April.

Cow Parsley just opening
When looking at flowers, I always check for miners, and sure enough, the usual suspect was present and correct:

The mine of Phytomyza chaerophylli on Cow Parsley
You can just make out the shiny black pupa at the top of the mine.

Staying with miners, I noticed this odd mine of the micromoth Stigmella aurella on Bramble:

Badly-formed mine of Stigmella aurella
This one made its first wrong turn when it met the second vein and turned back on itself, and compounded this with another wrong turn as it returned to the first vein. It has now gone into a decreasing spiral and has run out of food. That's one genetic experiment that won't be passed on to future generations.

The frogs in the ditch have finally spawned:

Frogs (left) and spawn
This is approximately two weeks later than I would normally expect, although the adults have been around for at least 3 weeks.

My search for species for the 1k square challenge has now reached just over 200 species in a week, with very few new additions to the square apart from the Sarcoscypha and the Sepsid.


Tommy said...

I dont want to be "pecky", but pls check the id for Sarcoscypha since most records, at least in rest of NW Europe, is S. austriaca and not S. coccinea s.str. Cheers nd keep up the good work

stuart dunlop said...

Yes indeed. Yesterday, when I was researching another specimen, I noticed that I had made my previous record (in FRDBI) as Sarcoscypha austriaca var. austriaca. I intended to sort it this morning, but you beat me to it. Thanks....:)

Gill said...

Gosh, you are way ahead of us here in Yorkshire where it's still midwinter! No sign of speedwell or frogs. And I've never managed to find that lovely Sarcosypha - I'll keep looking though.

stuart dunlop said...

The key to the Sarcoscypha is dampness. I usually find it in shaded undergrowth where there's thin dead wood, but this singleton was out in the open, although over a ditch.