Wednesday, 8 July 2015

More from Murlough

Bioblitz at Murlough:

I had set people the task of bringing back any leaf galls that they found, and my workbench was soon loaded down with specimens.

The first specimen brought in was Aceria pseudoplatani made by a gall mite on Sycamore:

Aceria pseudoplatani on Sycamore
The gall is on the underside of the leaf, but is visible from the top as a yellow depression which makes it quite obvious. There is one previous record from Dublin last year. Murlough is also on the east coast, so I suspect it might just be newly colonising from the UK.

This Phanacis hypochoeridis (wasp) gall on Catsear was locally very common: I saw it in a couple of separate locations and almost every plant seemed to be galled. It's described as rare, so it must be very local. First Irish record was submitted last week after I identified the specimen! Each gall is a series of chambers, each one containing a yellow larva.
Phanacis hypochoeridis on Catsear 
New to my Species List
Bombus lapidarius - Red-tailed Bumblebee isn't rare, but I have never seen it on my patch. Here it is gathering pollen on a new flower for me: Restharrow

Bombus lapidarius on Restharrow

Both new to my Species list

This Yellow Shell moth flew over my shoulder and hid under a stile step. So this shot is taken with me lying on my back facing upwards at the underside of the step. Flash used. 
Yellow Shell moth
New to my Species List (which is badly in need of an update now!)

I'm getting lots of reports of the excellent hoverfly Volucella pellucens at the moment:

This was also taken at Murlough:

The hoverfly Volucella pellucens

This Cixiid landed on my recording sheet and I managed to get a couple of shots rattled off before it flew. It isn't the much more common Cixius nervosus, and seems to match Cixius cunicularius very closely.

Cixius cf. cuniculariu

Cixius cf. cunicularius
I can't find any previous records for this local species in Ireland.

I think my personal species tally for Murlogh was around 200, with 2-3 new records for NI and perhaps one new species for Ireland. I'm awaiting confirmation of id's before I report fully.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015


I participated in a coastal Bioblitz at Murlough in Northern Ireland at the weekend. This SSSI has a wonderful mix of coastal habitats as well as some woodland just inshore. There is also a patch of saltmarsh, which is a habitat type that I haven't encountered before and yielded many species that were new to me. Every step seemed to contain a plant, insect or some other invert that I didn't know existed.

The most obvious species in the saltmarsh were the plants, many of which were succulent (and tasted strongly of salt: I tasted them). We were lucky enough to find two Sea-Spurreys side by side: Greater Sea Spurrey:
Greater Sea-Spurrey - Spergularia media

And Lesser Sea-Spurrey:

Lesser Sea Spurrey - Spergularia marina

I have tried to crop the images so that the relative sizes of the flowers are maintained. Notice the thick, succulent leaves, especially on the Lesser.

Both new to my species list.

Also new is Lax-flowered Sea-lavender:

Lax-flowered Sea-lavender - Limonium humile
This is apparently quite scarce.

New to my Species List.

Sea Arrowgrass was growing just on the slightly dryer upper edges of the saltmarsh, almost under the trees:

Sea Arrowgrass - Triglochin maritima
Individual flowers are between 2 and 3 mm diameter.

Yet another new plant was Portland Spurge - Euphorbia portlandica:

Portland Spurge - Euphorbia portlandica
Identification was made mostly from the double horn-shape of the yellow petals.

New to my Species List.

Other plant species included Samphire and Sea Beet.

I'll add leaf-miners, galls and other inverts to the next post.