Southern Marsh Orchids

Southern Marsh Orchids

Monday 31 March 2014

Non-native amphipod?

I picked up this specimen from the banks of the Taff in Cardiff (llandaff area) on Saturday morning:
Arcitalitrus dorrieni?
I think it is a specimen of Arcitalitrus dorrieni, the dark colour (which was much blacker when the specimen was fresh) and the habitat (wet, humus-rich soils with leaf litter under trees) point to it being that species.  I understand there are no terrestrial amphipods native to the UK.  A. dorrieni was introduced from Australia with the first specimen taken from Tresco in the winter of 1924/5 and may have been introduced on multiple occasions.  It is now becoming more common throughout southern and south west England, south Wales and sporadically around the coast.

It's abundance was striking; significant numbers seemed to be lurking under every handful of leaf litter, stone or log.  Also striking was the fact that in 20 minutes of so of searching, I didn't find a single carabid or Staphylinid beetle, in fact the only predator I found was a single Linyphiid spider.  It makes me wonder what impact it has on the native soil fauna!

More info here: and here:

FSC workshop

I thought I would post this in case it is of interest to anyone.  I've been on a few of the FSC courses and they have been very good.  The Wales session is on 8th May at the Field Centre in Margam so it is easily accessible to folk in Glamorgan.  If you want to attend please contact Richard Burkmar whose email details are on the form!

Friday 28 March 2014

Kenfig saltmarsh yesterday.

                              Female Emperor moth.

Sunday 23 March 2014

Nemastoma bimaculatum

Whilst grubbing about in dead wood and leaf litter on Sewbrec's excellent Woodlouse course yesterday (thanks Greg and Libby if you are reading this!) I came across a harvestman, Nemastoma bimaculatum.

 It's a new species for me, although it is pretty common and very widely distributed according to the Spider Recording Scheme maps. 

It's also one of the few harvestmen that is instantly recognisable due to it's black ground colour and the pair of white dots on the cepahlothorax.  With a body length of only 2mm or so they are quite tricky to find though!  I first thought it was a money spider until I spotted the typical gait of a harvestman and the characteristic tapping with the second pair of legs which are used as sensory organs.

Wednesday 19 March 2014

Spring Tipulids

I've seen a few of these distinctive looking craneflies over the years, and I now know that at this time of year, with the dark stripe down the side of the thorax (pleura) they are Tipula (Savtshenkia) rufina. This female was on a wall next to the office!

Monday 17 March 2014

Kenfig Pictures

Danish Scurvy-grass
A couple of pictures from yesterday

Saturday 8 March 2014

Glamorgan Botany Group excursions 2014

Here's a link to the excursion list for Glamorgan Botany Group for this year:  It looks like a fascinating programme and I am hoping to be able to attend a few.  If, like me, you are a bit of an amateur when it comes to plants I understand that learners are very welcome.  It should be a great opportunity to learn from some very experienced botanists. 

Even better, a visit to Rhoose Point is planned, and who could resist that?!

Marsh Helleborine - Rhoose Point 2012

Thursday 6 March 2014

Water cricket (Velia caprai).

                              Saw what i thought were Whirlygig beetles on a stream
                              at Parc slip reserve today, but on closer inspection, they
                              were these quite colourful Water crickets. Something i
                              have never seen before.

Sunday 2 March 2014

Winter Rainfall

We all know that the winter of 2013-14 was very, very wet, but just how wet can be gauged by the charts below. I have been keeping rainfall records since 1994 and since 2007, when I got my first computer, I have been able to put them on a spreadsheet. These Excel charts show that although the winter (1st December to 28th February, following the Met Office definition)  as a whole was the wettest I've ever recorded, none of the three months turned out to be record breakers. What was remarkable was that three months, all with the second highest totals followed each other; something I've never seen before.

Living near Aberdare, in the upper Cynon Valley, we are used to high rainfall, the average annual rainfall for my garden being around 1.80m, but this winter was exceptional, not least because from December through into February, there was an unbroken run of 66 days with measurable rainfall (0.20mm or greater), which again is something I've never seen previously.
One can only hope that after all this, the three remaining seasons turn out to be a little below average in rainfall and above average in  temperature.

Saturday 1 March 2014

Jumping spiders

There were two species of Salticid spiders out in the sun in the garden today.  Both have the row of forward pointing eyes with large anterior medians that are so distinctive of the Salticidae family. 

The first one I saw was either Heliophanus cupreus or flavipes. I can't make out which because it is a juvenile specimen and it's not really possible to make out the leg markings (which are the other useful identifying feature) from the photo.  Both species can be present together, although from memory previous mature specimens from here have been flavipes.  The yellow palps are an even more day-glo colour in life than is obvious from the photo and are used in elaborate courtship dances.

Heliophanus cupreus/flavipes?

The second species which (like H cupreus and flavipes) is very common, was probably Salticus scenicus more commonly known as the Zebra spider from the black and white markings on its thorax and abdomen.  I say probably because again it was an immature specimen.

Salticid spiders stalk and actively hunt their prey rather than set webs and wait.  Those large eyes give very acute vision, and they will track and follow any nearby moving object even turning to peer intently at your face or camera as it looms toward them.
Salticus scenicus?


While busy with some DIY, today, I noticed something crawling on the inside of the window and was surprised to find this lovely creature. I believe it is Ichneumon suspiciosus. I've seen them out and about in the summer, but didn't realise they hibernate as adults. I potted this one and released it to its fate outside.

Ichneumon suspiciosus (unless someone knows better)