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Archive for March, 2011

Beetle highlights of 2009

I always attend the BENHS Annual Exhibition held in South Kensington in late October/ early November. Entomology is a solitary pursuit for most of the year but the Exhibition is a unique chance to meet up with loads of other entomologists. There are so many people to chat to that it is often difficult to find time to actually look at the exhibits! I missed the Exhibition in 2009 because I was in Portugal, so my beetle exhibit in 2010 was of the highlights of 2009. It’s actually worked out really well to have fallen a year behind as I’ve been able to do a much more thorough review of my 2009 beetling year; normally by the time of the Exhibition I’ve still got loads of specimens to identify.

So, in 2009 I saw 794 species of beetle alive in Britain and Ireland. 116 (14.6%) of these were species I had not seen alive before. I saw 32 Red Data Book species (22 of which were ticks) and 100 Nationally Scarce species (29 of which were ticks).

For details of the beetles exhibited, read on. This is a slightly expanded version of the exhibit report that will appear in the BENHS journal in autumn 2011.

A couple of additional highlights from 2008.

Alevonota gracilenta, RDBK, (Staphylinidae) Gallows Hill, nr Thetford, (TL8684, West Norfolk (VC 28)). 6th May 2008. 2nd Norfolk record. In the field, this beetle sprinted around over a clod of soil in an arable margin with the same ‘clockwork snake’ motion that I’ve only otherwise seen from the distinctive wetland aleocharine Hygronoma dimidiata.

Otiorhynchus crataegi (Curculionidae) Tesco store, Leighton Buzzard, (SP916252, Bedfordshire (VC 30)). 28th September 2008. Possible first for Beds. Also recorded on 30th September 2009. Now that I’ve got my eye in on Otirohynchus feeding damage, visits to supermarket car parks have been much more interesting.

Highlights and discoveries from 2009

Saproxylic survey of Ebernoe Common (W Sussex (VC 13))

Oxylaemus cylindricus, RDB Extinct, (Bothrideridae) Ebernoe Common: glades subterranean trap (oak), (SU9768627079). 7th July to 27th August 2009. One of 21 individuals trapped from two oak trees. The first British records since Sherwood Forest (c.1899 – 1902) before which it had been recorded from the New Forest on a few occasions. I think rediscovering an extinct species trumps finding a species new to Britain, so this is my best beetle discovery ever!

Oxylaemus variolosus, RDB3, (Bothrideridae) Ebernoe Common: glades subterranean trap (oak), (SU9768627079).  7th July to 27th August 2009. Occurred with O. cylindricus but only 11 individuals in total.

Rhizophagus oblongicollis, RDB1, (Monotomidae) Ebernoe Common: flight interception trap, beech, (SU9759026949). 4th – 18th June 2009. Apparently the first for Sussex.

Stephostethus alternans (Latridiidae) Ebernoe Common: flight interception trap E, oak, (SU9791527405). 16th – 30th July 2009.  I am not aware of any other Sussex records.

Orchesia minor, Nb, (Melandryidae) Ebernoe Common: old growth, (SU9727). 22nd May 2009. Off fallen beech, branches still with attached dead leaves.

Rabocerus foveolatus, Na, (Salpingidae) Ebernoe Common: flight interception trap, beech, (SU9759026949). 14th – 27th August 2009. Apparently the first for Sussex.

Neocoenorrhinus interpunctatus, Nb, (Rhynchitidae) Ebernoe Common: glades, (SU9727). 22nd May 2009.

Samples from reedbeds collected by Donna Harris and Anna Doeser of RSPB by pitfall and pan trapping from 9th June to 30th August 2009.

1 species new to Norfolk:

Boreophilia eremita (Staphylinidae), Hickling Broad (TG42, VC 27). A species more familiar from montane habitats (I first saw it on Cairn Gorm).

3 species new to Kent from Stodmarsh (TR26, VC 15), including one as yet un-named species perhaps new to Britain:

Cerapheles terminatus, Na, (Malachiidae),

Philhygra terminalis, RDBK, (Staphylinidae),

Malthodes sp. (Cantharidae) – see my blog posting here.

3 species new to Somerset from Ham Wall RSPB Reserve (centroid: ST460400, VC 6):

Blemus discus, Nb, (Carabidae),

Microdota liliputana (Staphylinidae), also featured here,

Carpelimus lindrothi, N, (Staphylinidae).

Records from surveys in Buckinghamshire (VC 24)

Ilyobates nigricollis, RDBK, (Staphylinidae) Hog & Hollowhill Woods, (SU8286). 2nd June 2009. Probably the first for Bucks. Rarely found; Peter Hammond suggests it may be associated with small mammals.

Oligota apicata, Notable, (Staphylinidae) Hog & Hollowhill Woods, (SU8285). 2nd June 2009.

Rugilus similis, Notable, (Staphylinidae) Langley Park, (TQ010819). 15th February 2009.

Aulonothroscus brevicollis, RDB3, (Throscidae) Little Rowley Wood (TQ004826). 14th July 2009. From hollow Hornbeam.

Procraerus tibialis, RDB3, (Elateridae) Rowley Woods complex (SU9982). 11th September 2009. In oak red-rot.

Oedostethus quadripustulatus, Na, (Elateridae) Rowley Woods complex (TQ0082). 1st July 2009. First for Bucks since before 1950.

Laricobius erichsonii (Derodontidae) Rowley Woods complex (TQ0082). 14th July 2009. Beaten from oak. Possibly the first for Bucks.

Trinodes hirtus, RDB3, (Dermestidae) Langley Park, (TQ0082). 1st July 2009.

Anobium nitidum, RDBi, (Anobiidae) Rowley Woods complex (TQ0082). 1st July 2009. Possibly the first for Bucks.

Hylecoetus dermestoides, Nb, (Lymexylidae) Northmoor Hill Wood (TQ0389). 5th May 2009.

Lymexylon navale, RDB2, (Lymexylidae) Rowley Woods complex (TQ0082). 14th July 2009.

Phloiophilus edwardsii, Nb, (Phloiophilidae) Langley Park (TQ010818). 17th October 2009.

Meligethes atramentarius, Notable, (Nitidulidae) Northmoor Hill Wood, (TQ0389). 5th May 2009.

Cryptarcha undata, Nb, (Nitidulidae) Little Rowley Wood (TQ004826). 14th July 2009.

Leptophloeus clematidis, RDB1, (Laemophloeidae) Cliveden NT, (SU90918428). 7th February 2009.

Abdera biflexuosa, Nb, (Melandryidae) Rowley Woods complex (TQ0082). 1st July 2009.

Scraptia fuscula, RDB1, (Scraptiidae) Rowley Woods complex (TQ0082). 1st July 2009. First for Bucks.

Scraptia testacea, RDB3, (Scraptiidae) Rowley Woods complex (TQ0082). 1st July 2009.

Pogonocherus hispidulus (Cerambycidae) Hog & Hollowhill Woods, (SU8285). Beating oak on 2nd June 2009. My long overdue first encounter with this species.

Pogonocherus hispidus (Cerambycidae) for comparison with P. hispidulus.

Apteropeda globosa, Nb, (Chrysomelidae) Northmoor Hill Wood, (TQ0389). 5th May 2009.

Stereocorynes truncorum, Na, (Curculionidae) Rowley Woods complex (TQ0082). 1st July 2009. 2nd Bucks site (after Langley Park).

Records from Windsor (SU97, Berkshire (VC 22))

Euplectus tholini, RDB3, (Staphylinidae). 24th June 2009. Found on oak.

Vanonus brevicornis, RDB2, (Aderidae). 21st July 2009. One of two beaten from foliage adjacent to the trunk of an oak.

Korynetes caeruleus, Nb, (Cleridae). 24th June 2009. Swept beneath an oak.

From a site in East Cornwall (VC 2).

Calomicrus circumfusus, Na, (Chrysomelidae). 11th June 2009. Found to be common on gorse.

Ochrosis ventralis, RDB3, (Chrysomelidae). 9th July 2009. By suction sampling.

Temnocerus tomentosus, Nb, (Rhynchitidae). 11th June 2009. Beating Salix. Apparently the first for Cornwall.

Dawlish Warren (South Devon (VC 3)) with Tony Allen on 19th April 2009.

Phytosus nigriventris, RDBK, (Staphylinidae) Dawlish Warren, (SX9979). About 50 seen.

Myrmecopora brevipes, Notable, (Staphylinidae) Dawlish Warren, seaward side, beach, (SX9894879425). This was the target of our visit, following a record by Jon Webb (2008). I only found it on the seaward side of the Warren, at the grid reference given and outwards from there towards the end, 6 in total.

Teropalpus unicolor (Staphylinidae) Dawlish Warren, seaward side, beach, (SX9979).

Records from Blakeney Point (West Norfolk (VC 28)) field meeting, 12th – 13th September 2009

Saprinus planiusculus, Nb, (Histeridae) Blakeney Point, (TF998459). 12th September.

Phytosus nigriventris, RDBK, (Staphylinidae) Blakeney Point, (TF989460). 12th September. 1st for  Norfolk.

Atomaria umbrina, Notable, (Cryptophagidae) Blakeney Point: near landing area, (TG001457). 12th. 1st for Norfolk.

Melanophthalma transversalis, RDBK, (Latridiidae) Blakeney Point: Far Point, (TF988457). 12th September.

Corticarina truncatella, RDBK, (Latridiidae) Blakeney Point, (TF997459). 13th September.

Highlights of a trip to Co. Kerry

Ampedus pomonae (Elateridae) Blackstones Bridge, N of and E of Caragh River, (V7079887246, South Kerry (VC H1)). 25th July 2009. Dead adult in pupal chamber with exuvium, in birch log of 2.5 inch diameter, c. 1 foot long. 2 live Ampedus larvae also found. This species is long extinct in Britain.

Hydrocyphon deflexicollis, Nb, (Scirtidae) Lyranes Lower, (V7186, South Kerry (VC H1)). 26th July 2009. Beating riverside foliage.

Carabid highlights

Lebia cruxminor, RDB1, (Carabidae) near Dolgellau, (SH71, Merionethshire (VC 48)). 1st May 2009. One of three seen.

Ophonus rupicola, Nb, (Carabidae) Middle Shelspit Farm, Thornborough, (SP7533, Buckinghamshire (VC 24)). 6th September 2009. In a tin set into a lawn as part of a mini-golf course!

Some aliens

Cryptophilus integer (Languriidae) Dinton Pastures Country Park, Hurst: overflow car park, (SU779718, Berkshire (VC 22)). 22nd Feb 2009. In woodchips. Discovered here by Peter Hammond.

Cryptamorpha desjardinsii (Silvanidae) Humid Tropics Biome (SX0454 & SX0455), Eden Project, Bodelva, (East Cornwall (VC 2)). 17th April 2009.

Berginus tamarisci (Mycetophagidae) Brooklands, (TQ070624, Surrey (VC 17)). 22nd May 2009. Off Pinus ?nigra? Discovered new to Britain here by Roger Booth and Tony Allen on 11.xi.2007.

Ptinus dubius (Anobiidae) Brooklands Heights Business Park, E of River Wey, (TQ070624, Surrey (VC 17)).22nd May 2009. Second record for Surrey: I later learned that Roger Booth had found 1 here on 11th November 2007. Beating Pinus ?nigra?

Myrmecocephalus concinnus (Staphylinidae) Dinton Pastures Country Park, Hurst: overflow car park, (SU779718, Berkshire (VC 22)). 22nd February 2009. In woodchip pile. Discovered here by Peter Hammond.

Brachyderes incanus (Curculionidae) Brooklands Heights Business Park, E of River Wey, (TQ070624, Surrey (VC 17)). 22nd May 2009. Off Pinus ?nigra? Discovered new to Britain here by Jonty Denton.

Miscellaneous records of interest

Anotylus insecatus, Notable, (Staphylinidae) Eaton Bray, (SP968208, Bedfordshire (VC 30)). 20th September 2009. In old seed potatoes.

Xantholinus laevigatus (Staphylinidae) Croxton Hall Farm, Thetford, (TL8685, West Norfolk (VC 28)). 5th July 2009. 2nd Norfolk record. Although lacking a conservation status, this seems to be a rarely seen species.

Alaobia scapularis, Notable, (Staphylinidae) Roade Quarry, (SP7551, Northamptonshire (VC 32)). 10th August 2009. Scavenging on the gooey innards of a freshly dead but disintegrating Pterostichus madidus (Carabidae). This is the species that was recently discovered to be a parasitoid of glow-worm Lampyris noctiluca pupae (Horne & Horne, 2008).

References

Horne, A. and Horne, J. (2008). Larvae of Alaobia scapularis (Sahlberg) (Staphylinidae) attacking the pupae of glow-worms (Lampyridae) in Hampshire. The Coleopterist, 17, 190.
Webb, J. (2008). Myrmecopora brevipes Butler (Staphylinidae) recorded at Dawlish Warren, Devon. The Coleopterist, 17, 47 – 49.

Charismatic megafauna

2010 was a year of great wildlife for me, so much of it that I’ve hardly had time to reflect on what I’ve seen, let alone blog about it. Here’s a selection of the mammal highlights.

For a fortnight in June I was doing surveys for saproxylic (i.e. dead wood) beetles in the Highlands from Ullapool, down through the Isle of Skye, ending up in the Fort William area. I had amazingly good weather for most of it, and pretty good luck. I finally connected with Pine Marten which I’ve dipped on several painful occasions in the past. Glen Loy Lodge just outside Fort William is highly recommended for anyone wanting to see them well, actually ridiculously well! Watch my first ever youtube clip here.

I also had my most prolonged views of an Otter while in Scotland from this quay on Skye on a tranquil evening. For over quarter of an hour I watched it catching and eating shellfish while I was eating chips and the midges were eating me. I also saw one from the car as I was driving away from the Mallaig ferry.

Jo spent many evenings surveying woodlands in Buckinghamshire for Bechstein’s Bats, one of Britain’s rarest mammals, with amazingly successful results. I took my chance to see them when I accompanied her and a vanload of North Bucks Bat Group folks to help with some batbox monitoring in Herefordshire on 5th September. Footage here. One of the batboxes was being used by a couple of very lively Dormice that decided to bale out when the box was checked.

What will surely be a once-in-a-lifetime experience took place at The Mens Sussex Wildlife Trust reserve. Jo and I were beetling with Graeme Lyons when there was frantic rustling in the leaf-litter and it sounded like something quite big was charging at us. I looked up and was lost for words at first and then decide to hedge my bets and called “Mustelid!”. A Badger was chasing a Polecat towards us in broad daylight! Graeme has the story on his Lyon’s Den blog.

I think I love mammal-watching more than any other branch of natural history. And I love whales and dolphins more than any other mammals. So it was a bit upsetting that Jo gripped me off on Killer Whale in the Bay of Quendale during our Shetland trip in September. I console myself that they were distant views into the sun: it would be great to see them like this (in Mousa Sound).