Poor old Gilbert is getting restless. Despite the fact that there is more interest in wildlife than ever before, it seems that most of the so-called conservation organisations are losing interest in species. Instead they prefer to babble on about landscape scale conservation and ecosystem services (whatever they are). Could this be because most of their staff don't have any knowledge about species if they don't have four legs?
This is my attempt to encourage an interest in good old-fashioned natural history.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

The road to 5000

At the end of 2014 my Pan-species list stood at 4881 species. Over the winter it crept up slowly as I worked through insect specimens from last (and previous) years and added the odd moss or fungus. This left me a few 10's short of the 5000 mark. The start of the new field season meant it was all systems go to hit the magic number.

The first excursion was to Ambersham Common with a couple of friends, one of whom specialises in groups such as spiders that I know little about. This inevitably resulted in quite a few new species, the best spider being the Red Data Book Uloborus walckenaerius.

One of the most interesting finds of the day though was of these galls on a Scot's Pine.

These are caused by the mite Trisetacus pini. I have spent a lot of time on heaths over the years and have never seen these before but this one tree was riddled with them.

The next trip was a Shoresearch event run by Sussex Wildlife Trust at Beachy Head on one of the lowest tides in decades. I have done very little marine stuff so new species a plenty were in order. There is still a major shortage of identification literature on marine species though so quite a few finds remained nameless, or at least could not be named with absolute certainty. Despite that, it was great to see loads of new things.

Butterfish Pholis gunnellus
The Green Paddle-worm looks like a massive green millipede.
Green Paddle-worm Eulalia viridis
Green Sea-urchin Psammechinus miliaris 
Long-spined Sea-scorpion Taurulus bubalis - not a new species but so ugly I just had to include a photo
a Sea-fir Dynamena pumila
Sea-firs are related to corals, sea anemones and jellyfish and this species is widespread and common around the coast of Britain, although seemingly scarce in the south-east.

Squat Lobster Galathea squamifera
I presume that I can still count this, even though a big chunk of it was missing!

Velvet Swimming Crab Necora puber - stunning and vicious! 
Finally, the commonest fish of the day was the Tompot Blenny. I feel a bit bad about this as it is one of the most-wanted species of the person who told me about the Shoresearch event - and he wasn't there.

Tompot Blenny Parablennius gattorugine
A few more insects from last year and a couple of fungi courtesy of Penny at the Knepp Estate left me on 4999 the day before a work trip to the Isle of Wight. I haven't been to the IoW for about 30 years and to be honest I won't be in a rush to get back, but it did give me the chance to get number 5000 from a taxonomic group that you probably wouldn't expect at this time of year.

Glanville Fritillary larvae
Four hours stuck on the motorway on the way home meant that I wasn't in much of a mood to celebrate but I've made it. Here's to the next 5000.

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