Sunday, 19 January 2014

Putting some Spring into Winter

Winter isn't a great time for looking for invertebrates, but if you look hard enough there are still interesting creatures to be found. Before the New Year I'd found the springtail Dicyrtomina saundersi on an old egg box in the garden, so I decided to have another look around and see if I could add it to the list. I didn't have to look for long, as the lid of a plastic storage box just outside the door proved to be veritable serengeti for springtails with at least 20 Dicyrtominas wandering around. I spent a bit of time trying to get a reasonable photo, and making sure that there weren't any other species mixed in, before having a quick look around the rest of the garden to see if I could turn up anything else

41: Dicyrtomina saundersi
Dicyrtomina saundersi
It didn't take very long to find another springtail resting on the fence, this time a flat species in contrast to the globular Dicyrtomina. After a few false starts I'm pretty happy with an identification of Entomobrya intermedia, a common and widespread species. Like Dicyrtomina, Entomobrya possesses a special organ called the furcula, which is a two-pronged tail like structure, folded under the abdomen. If the springtail is disturbed the furcula snaps downwards with amazing speed, flinging the springtail high into the air, and hopefully to safety.

42: Entomobrya intermedia
Entomobrya intermedia
There are almost certainly several more springtail species in the garden, and if they're not there, then they'll definitely be in the nearby woods, grazing on the leaf litter, so I'll have to head over sometime soon to see what else I can find. I did spend a little time in the woods yesterday, but was focussing on rather larger targets as I tried to fill in some of the gaping holes in the bird list. I was moderately succsssful, adding another six species to the list, along with an early flowering daisy, but with species like Woodpigeon and Carrion Crow still missing, I've still got a way to go!

43: Dunnock
Dunnock singing in the hedge
44: Blue Tit
Blue Tit
45: Jackdaw
Jackdaw strolling down a lichen covered roof - extra prize to anyone who IDs the lichens!
46: Daisy
47: Starling
48: Magpie
Magpie on a horse paddock
49: Robin
Robin staking out his territory

Total: 49 Species - see all the photos here

I've also decided to keep track of my UK "all-taxa" list to see if I can lift it from its currently rather embarrassingly low total by filling in some of the more cavernous holes (according to my records I've only seen 68 species of plant in the UK!)

UK Life List: 1275 Species

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