Sunday, 2 June 2013

Another bioblitz

I was invited to another bioblitz on Saturday, this time at Lissan House, near Cookstown. The weather looked pretty dismal when I arrived, but eventually the rain stopped, clouds cleared and we had bright sunshine for a few busy hours. I always enjoy a trip to new locations, since I usually find some species which are new to me.

I was again 'doing' hoverflies, miners and microfungi, but I always reserve the right to make a detour if something attracts my attention. The first plant to catch my eye was Common Bistort, down by the river:

Common Bistort
 This has large, soft leaves and I soon spotted its fungal rust Puccinia bistortae:

The fungal rust Puccinia bistorta
The alternate hosts for Puccinia bistortae are Angelica and Pignut, both of which I found nearby. Rusts usually alternate between two species, but this choice of two completely unrelated alternate hosts is new to me. No doubt there will be others....

Both the Bistort and its rust are new to my species list.

The next species I found also shouted "NEW" to me:

Unusual red form of Gymnocheta viridis
The black spines immediately identify it as one of the Tachinid flies, which are parasitic on moth and butterfly larvae, and although I have seen quite a few Tachinid species, I have never seen a red one before. I rattled it off for expert opinion, and am told that Gymnocheta viridis (which I have shown before a number of times: for example here) can sometimes turn red - due to exposure to sunlight - as it ages. That's not the kind of information you'll find in any books.

I then joined up with two more bioblitzers and we headed for a wildflower meadow, where we found dozens  (hundreds?) of butterflies, including Green-veined White, Large White and Orange Tip all chasing each other around in the fresh sun: a wonderful sight.

Since the Buttercups (in this case both Creeping and Meadow) have just opened, all their associates are immediately in evidence. This shot shows the tiny Hydrothassa marginella beetle, which I have never found away from a buttercup flower:

The beetle Hydrothassa marginella

I also spotted this longhorn beetle, Rhagium bifasciatum:

The longhorn beetle Rhagium bifasciatum

And a single specimen of the Small Copper butterfly, which caused a bit of a stir:

Small Copper butterfly
En route between meadows, we passed through a heavily wooded area, and spotted a dead Birch with three specimens of the Birch polypore bracket fungus Piptoporus betulinum, which I am astonished to find is not on my species list, although I have seen it many times before:

The bracket fungus Piptoporus betulinum
One of these specimens was dissected and a number of small beetles were found inside. Bracket fungi are very long-lasting, and are the perfect habitat for many insects, especially beetles.

New to my species list, for some odd reason.

We also found a couple of ascomycetes on dead Beech:

First a species which glories in the name of Biscoingiauxia nummularia:

Biscoingiauxia nummularia
I am told this is the furthest north that Biscoingiauxia nummularia can be found in Ireland. Now THAT's a challenge......;)

And beside it, Quaternaria quaternata:

Quaternaria quaternata

Both of the previous species are unique to dead Beech, and are both new to my species list.

So that's 5 new species for my list: not bad for a few hours work.

Another great day out, and more new contacts and like-minded friends. These bioblitzes are brilliant.


The Weaver of Grass said...

Stuart - your comment on wants and needs is worthy of a poem. How about it?

We live close to Catterick Garrison and they have a wonderful nature reserve called Foxglove Covert LNR - have a look at their web site I am sure you would find it interesting. I do a quarterly quiz which is sold to help their funds.

Every Sunday morning they have a bird ringing session - my friend is there helping as I write this.
Mid week they have a moth count and species counts and recordings go on all the time.

Good to hear from you.

stuart dunlop said...

Weaver, I took up your challenge and posted a poem in your comments. Let me know what you think. I had a look at the website you mentioned, and it seems like a great place for a Bioblitz: all those habitat types would lead to a huge species list in the 24 hours allowed. I'm also aware of quite a number of wildlife specialists not too far from you...;)

The Weaver of Grass said...

Crit on poem.

Seems to me
you're a poet
and didn't know it.

(haiku if you think of the first word as the title!)