Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Continuing the lavatorial theme...

Following on from the RSPB's list addition from within a portaloo, BTO have gone one better and actually added three new species from a piece of, er, poo. Rabbit dung, more precisely.

During a fungus foray a few weeks ago, we were helped in our quest by Tony Leech, father of Dave Leech (Head of BTO Nest Records), but more importantly also Norfolk Fungus Recorder. Tony politely helped us look at the larger fungi we spotted, but he had much smaller targets in his sights. He soon scooped up some rabbit droppings and popped them in a pot.

Now, I've often been accused of acting somewhat bizzarely in the search for new species, so it was highly reassuring to me to find someone apparently acting even more oddly. But no, Tony has now come back to report that not one, not two, but three species of fungi have grown out of these droppings. More amazingly, two of them appear to be entirely new to Norfolk! (Hard to believe, given the large numbers of rabbit dung fungus culturers who must be out there...) These are Schizothecium tetrasporum and S. vesticola, in addition to the more widespread Coprinopsis cordispora.

What the listing ethics committees will have to say about these is anyone's guess (although several of us were part of the fungus foray and did see the dung being collected, and Dave did peer down the microscope when visiting home).

Schizothecium tetrasporum (proposed common name Dalek Dung Fungus) - Tony Leech

Monday, 22 August 2011

Not one, but tew-tew-tew

After seeing a Greenshank on Derek's last night and knowing I didn't have time to race up to The Lodge to get it on the list, I decided to try early this morning.  Luckily the light was good, and there was virtually no horrible heat haze.

The Lapwings were easily visible on the tiny muddy edge, and the Little Egrets stood out a mile (literally).  All of a sudden a Greenshank ran along past one of the Lapwings - bingo!  OTL.  Not one we expected to get back now that Derek's was virtually full with water again and you could only see a fraction of what we could in spring.  In the end there were two Greenshanks, and they made sure they weren't going to get mis-id'd as Greater Yellowlegs by having a little fly around together too.  Very satisfying.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011


Just in the car park portaloo here at The Lodge earlier on and mid-way through heard this:

Obviously I couldn't run out to try and see it, but rather satisfyingly I think that puts us one ahead of the Nuns in the bird stakes?  Whimbrel = number 132.

Our TEAL score however is far below what the irrepressive Nuns are clocking up at the moment!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

I don't like crickets...

...I love them, when they're Long-winged Coneheads! This was a long-expected new Orthopera species for the Nunnery Lakes as it's been spreading through East Anglia for a while now. Still need to sort out Short-winged Conehead this year though, which we've certainly had before now.

Quite a lot of work recently looking at plants, hoverflies, etc etc. We passed the 1,500 mark today, courtesy of an interesting non-native, the Narrow-leaved Ragwort Senecio inaequidens that was located growing on the wall of the ancient Nunnery itself. This also seems to be spreading rapidly - my 1997 edition of Stace says it is "now natd on sandy beach in East Kent, perhaps soon to spread as in N France". Quite prophetic, when you look at the distribution map produced by the BSBI.

Other recent additions have included Lighthouse Gall, Thorn-apple, Acleris emargana, Twin-lobed Deerfly and Apple Mint.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Six of the best...

Mark Ward mentioned a small patch of Bird's Foot Trefoil outside the office and wouldn't it be good to see a Six-belted Clearwing on it. Well today, there was. Egg-laying too.

Bit of a staff twitch... (photo by Mark Ward)

Monday, 8 August 2011

Pied Flycatcher

Gareth Fisher was in Sandy Heath Quarry yesterday, where he found a male Pied Flycatcher. This puts us on 131 for the year.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Almost a ladybird

We'd already got quite a few proper ladybirds on the list for the year, but this False Ladybird Endomychus coccineus was a new one for me, found by my son Duncan yesterday as he was clambering around in a tree. I obviously spend far too much time on the ground. This was one of many additions yesterday, when we were joined by Nick Gibbons and Tony Leech, amongst others - thanks very much for their help. Amongst the other species recorded were the grasses Bearded Fescue, Rat's-tail Fescue, Purple-stem Cat's-tail, Smaller Cat's-tail, Crested Hair-grass and Dense Silky-bent, Burnet Saxifrage, Lesser Pond Sedge, Prickly Sedge, Pale Persicaria, Scented Mayweed, Musk Mallow, Silverleaf Fungus, Blackfoot Polypore, Cinnamon Bracket (a good one, apparently!) and The Blusher. Oh, and a belated entry by Bank Vole, courtesy of a small mammal trapping course being held at the Nunnery! The White Nuns pass the 1,400 mark...

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Its an update Jim, but not as we know it

Andy Musgrove has been flexing his Excel muscles; as a result we now proudly present...

...a graph!
Number = number of species added (on any given date)

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Keep on keepin' on

I'm sure the lack of recent postings from both teams can be put down to the intensity of effort of late... nothing from the Lodgers on their BioBlitz last Monday, and we've certainly had our heads down following our own TEAL day last Saturday. I can reveal that we now have Wryneck on the list... but only in terms of Tony Irwin's assessment of the scarcity of the fly Myopina myopina (henceforth known as Wryneck Fly), which he put on a par with Wryneck (it turned out to be a first for Suffolk as it was from the west side of the River Little Ouse - more Short-toed Treecreeper than Wryneck then, I reckon)! A huge thank you to Tony for helping us out with countless Diptera - I'm pleased to say that he did seem to enjoy it and was certainly very patient as he talked us through various keys and ID criteria (using numerous words that made me embarrassed to have previously called myself a Biology teacher, as most were new to me!).

The marathon of mothing is continuing at a good pace - a bumper haul of 60+ macro species last night included a whopping 9 new ones:

Purple Bar
Black Arches
Poplar Kitten
Cabbage Moth
Square-spot Rustic
Marbled Clover - a Brecks speciality
Fen Wainscot
Twin-spotted Wainscot

The other recent highlight was a Silky Wainscot - not much to look at but v few recent records round Thetford.