When the rain finally abated mid afternoon, I went to vote and then headed down to the seaside, to clear my head with some fresh air. The tide was out so I couldn’t resist having a brief fossick along the beach. It’s a stony shore and there are never many shells to be found but I did find a few nestled amongst the stones.
I know Wales has a reputation for being a wet country but the past couple of weeks have been much wetter than any I’ve known in my four years here. Still, it’s good weather for slugs, which is why this large and colourful beastie was to be found sliding its way across my path today. It was about 3 inches long and I presume, despite its colour – they vary a lot, that it’s a Black slug (Arion ater agg.), a species that can only be positively identified by examination of its genitals. I’m not going there!
As part of this morning’s local meander, I went for a beachcomb at the base of the cliffs at Penarth Head – not too close to those cliffs as they’re continually shedding small stones and occasional larger boulders but it’s safe enough nearer the water’s edge when the tide’s going out. I didn’t linger long as people arrived to run their dogs, sending sand and stones everywhere. However, I did find this little beauty before they arrived – a fossilised seashell I think.
p.s. My fab Facebook friend Mark says that the only ‘Jurassic bivalve with that pattern in my books is something called Oxytoma inequivalvis’, so now we have a name. Thanks, Mark.
The weather was back to grey and drizzly again today so I donned my wet weather gear and headed to Cogan Wood to spend part of day 5 of my #7DaysofWildChristmas challenge turning over a few rotten logs and branches. And what did I find lurking there?
Woodlice; snails both long and rotund; earthworms; luscious balls of orange slime; tiny globular balls that looked like the eggs of something or other; pale little lumps of White or Crystal brain fungi; slugs brown and black; a stripey legged Harvestman; miniscule white mushrooms adorned with drops of water; a young centipede or millipede – I can never be quite sure which is which; dark little cup fungi, black with olive rims (Catinella olivacea) – very pleased with that find; and various other things, the photographs of which were either out of focus or too grainy due to the poor light conditions in the woodland. There’s nothing quite like getting wild and muddy – it was fun!
A few days ago I posted about my square-bashing adventure near Llanbeder, in Gwent. Hilary and I have now also square-bashed another under-biodiversity-recorded 1-km square, this time near St Brides Major in Glamorgan.
As the seagull flies we were within a kilometre of the sea and the geological substrate was very different, so the habitats we surveyed were more diverse. One public path led us down a heavily wooded driveway to an old house, another ran between the edge of that same woodland and fields sown with cereal crops (and there the hogweed was flowering which greatly improved my insect tally), and the third took us over paddocks of rough unimproved grassland, with patches of low rushes, all bordered by a wild old hedgerow.
Interestingly, this time Hilary’s plant list was about 20% lower than that from our previous square (though she still had around 80 species), whereas my list of everything else was about the same percentage higher (at around 100 species of insects, fungi and lichens, molluscs, etc).
As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I returned from my last Botany Group walk with more photos of insects – and other living creatures – than plants. The Gorse weevil got a blog of its own yesterday; now here are some of our other finds.
Firstly, a couple more weevils, both on nettle and the second one is definitely a Neetle weevil (Phyllobius pomacues) but I’m not sure about the first. The Click beetle was also found on nettle.
These two were at a farm we passed through; the sheep was lording it over the home paddock and the rooster was king of the farmyard. Both handsome dudes!
A nice little grouping of slug species, with their small friend, the Granny Grey, and a grasshopper. There were lots of these hopping round on grass and rushes in a boggy field. It may be a juvenile Meadow grasshopper but I’m not 100% sure.
A little flock of Micropterix cathella moths were feasting on this grass flower, and there were lots of other small moths, probably one of the Bactra species, plus an unidentified spider with a distinctive striped body.
And last, but certainly not least, these Bloody-nosed beetles (Timarcha tenebricosa). The photo on the left shows the chubby larva and on the right is the adult beetle munching on a grass stalk.