Thursday 7 January 2016

Summary of 2015 wildlife recording

2015 was a big year of pushing forward my British pan-species recording. Over the year I noted 1,670 species, a new record for me and given that there were many common species I didn’t jot down, but certainly saw, the true total will have been over 1,700.

I continued to focus on finding new species across as wide range of taxonomic groups as possible and overall exceeded expectations by finding 508 British lifers. Along with the armchair tick of Northern Harrier (but after removing three more “evidence-only” leaf-mining moths), this had me ending the year on 3,885 species.

Typical view of my desk through the year

I didn’t actually travel all that much to find all of these. A four-day trip to Dorset and back in June with other pan-species listers did net me 87 new species (mostly plants thanks to John!) But other than this, virtually all other new species were in East Anglia; in fact, 33% of the new species were found in and around Shotesham and 12% were around Thetford. 59 of the ticks were in my garden. Whilst I didn’t particularly focus on trying to increase the garden list as such, I did keep a note of what I recorded at home, with the all-time garden list ending the year on 1,152 species, whilst the all-time TM2499 1-km square list crept up to 1,759 species.

Pan-species recording at Portland in June

Most of my new species during the year were common ones. I prefer to feel I'm finding the common things, and building a bit of a foundation of knowledge of what to expect, rather than chasing rarities. Inevitably though, I did find a few rare (or at least seldom-recorded) species, including a few new beetles for Norfolk.

Non-arthropod invertebrates

Worms (5 species, 3 ticks, list total = 9): 2 new leeches and 1 new earthworm.

Molluscs (29 species, 17 ticks, list total = 48): made up of 4 new slugs, 10 terrestrial snails, 2 water snails and a freshwater limpet.

Non-insect arthropods

Arachnids (38 species, 13 ticks, list total = 69): highlights were my first two pseudoscorpions, plus the awesome slug mite.

Centipedes and millipedes (20 species, 10 ticks, list total now 22): all common species.

Crustaceans (14 species, 3 ticks, list total = 19): the new ones were all woodlice, two being coastal specialists.

Springtails (1 species, 1 ticks, list total = 3): Pogonognathellus longicornis was the only new one (common and relatively large). I really need to make some progress with these, there are huge numbers of them under my nose!


Jumping bristletails (1 species, 1 ticks, list total = 1): Petrobius maritimus on stone walls on Portland.

Beetles (200 species, 100 ticks, list total = 293): the group providing me with the largest number of new species. Highlights were Cychrus caraboides, Poecilus cupreus, the zany looking larvae of Ctesias serra (Cobweb Beetle), Ceutorhynchus pervicax (found at Wheatfen, new species for Norfolk), the “rice weevil” Sitophilus oryzae (found in a bag of budget pasta from Tesco’s), the very rare Omophlus betulae on Chesil Beach, Calambus bipustulatus (Shotesham Park, the first Norfolk record since the 1800s) and the striking chafer Oxythyrea funesta at a garden centre in Norwich (probably an unintentional import, new to Norfolk).

Ctesias serra, Regent's Park

Earwigs (1 species, 0 ticks, list total = 3): only the common Forficula auricularia.

Cockroaches (1 species, 1 tick, list total = 2): several Lesser Cockroaches Ectobius panzeri were seen on shingle at Ferrybridge.

Flies (169 species, 93 ticks, list total = 275): I spent quite a lot of time working on flies in 2015, with lots of new species as a result. However, I’ve still barely scratched the surface with almost all families. Loads more to learn; I’m quite keen to develop crane-flies further in particular (17 ticks this year). Highlights included several particularly striking species such as Coremacera marginata (Portland), Phasia hemiptera (Kelling Heath) and Ctenophora pectinicornis (Woodbastwick Fen). It was good to find 8 new hoverflies (total now 89) and 3 new soldierflies (total now 19) but sadly I didn’t find any new horseflies.

Choerades marginatus, Poringland Woods

Mayflies (1 species, 1 tick, list total = 4): I added the very common Baetis rhodani, with larvae and adults both found in Shotesham.

Bugs (95 species, 50 ticks, list total = 140): another good year, with new species from a wide range of families. Some of my highlights were the splendid Metatropis rufescens on Enchanter’s Nightshade in Shotesham, Ranatra linearis (Water Stick-insect) and Microvelia reticulata at Three Ponds Wood (Shotesham), Reduvius personatus (nymph) in the Nunnery and the striking Corizus hyoscyami in Shotesham Little Wood.

Metatropis rufescens, Shotesham

Hymenoptera (84 species, 38 ticks, list total = 151): a nice selection of new species but, as ever, only scratching the surface of this huge group. I found 30 species of bees (10 new), of which the long-awaited arrival of Colletes hederae (Ivy Bee) in Thetford was particularly pleasing. Some nice smaller wasps included Methocha articulata in Thetford Forest and the small but striking chalcid Brachymeria minuta on Barnhamcross Common. I did make a tiny bit of progress (with help) with identifying 5 ichneumon wasps, notably Itoplectis melanocephala at Wheatfen. Amongst the sawflies, the distinctive Xiphydria prolongata was found by Shotesham Pond was perhaps the highlight.

Crossocerus quadrimaculatus, Barnhamcross Common

Moths and butterflies (407 species, 17 ticks, list total = 1075): no new butterflies this year, and I even forgot to record Essex Skipper and Small and Green-veined Whites! My only new macro-moth for the year was Small Grass Emerald on Middlebeare Heath. I trapped in the garden on at least a weekly basis throughout most of the year, which didn’t produce many spectacular finds. In particular, whilst there was a lot of migrant activity on the coast, virtually none made its way to me. However, more notable garden moths included Broad-barred White, Small Scallop and Marbled White Spot all new for the garden, whilst away from home, it was also good to see Small Eggar (larval web at High Ash Farm), Scarlet and Cream-spot Tigers, Pearly Underwing, Ni Moth and Small Mottled Willow on Portland, and quite a good run of Hummingbird Hawk-moths in the summer. Unusually missed species included Cinnabar (probably saw but didn’t write down), Lychnis, Small Phoenix, Privet Hawk-moth, Drinker and Garden Carpet (this for the second subsequent year, a worrying crash). Still no clearwings! I also found a good range of new micros: Nemophora fasciella, Neosphaleroptera nubilana & Gypsonoma oppressana in the garden; Incurvaria pectinea, Grapholita compositella, Coleophora glaucicolella, Stigmella alnetella, Stigmella roborella, Stigmella tiliae & Bacotia sepium elsewhere around Shotesham; Argyresthia glaucinella in Poringland Woods; Ostrinia nubilalis at Tasburgh; Ectoedemia heringella in Thetford; Pachythelia villosella on Middlebeare Heath; and Scrobipalpa suaedella & Epischnia bankesiella at Portland. The most significant was Bacotia sepium from Shotesham Park, an occupied case that was kept until a female emerged, which appeared to be new to Norfolk until a 2014 Brecks record subsequently came to light.

Nemophora fasciella, Shotesham

Scorpionflies (1 species, 0 ticks, list total = 2): must go and find a Snow Flea!

Lacewings (6 species, 3 ticks, list total = 10): I don’t feel I’m really getting to grips with these, but the spongefly Sisyra nigra was nice to find from Whitlingham. Still not ticked any sponges either!

Dragonflies (19 species, 0 ticks, list total = 36): no new species this year, and somewhat lazy recording of this group. Notable species were Scarce Chaser (Wheatfen and Cambourne, my first since 2004) and further records of Willow Emerald Damselfly (Wheatfen and, notably, the Nunnery Lakes). Oddly, I didn’t record Norfolk Hawker this year. My easiest target in East Anglia remains Red-veined Darter, must get off my backside and go find one.

Grasshoppers and crickets (12 species, 0 ticks, list total = 21): no new species, and I was a little lazy in recording Orthoptera this year (in particular, Meadow Grasshopper and Oak Bush-cricket were almost certainly noted but never written down). Notable was only my third record of Grey Bush-cricket, which was common on Portland in June (although sadly we failed to find Scaly Cricket). Most of my remaining targets are southern and/or rare, with Cepero’s Groundhopper and Wood Cricket the most widespread of these. However, given its recent spread, my most likely addition is probably Southern Oak Bush-cricket.

Stoneflies (2 species, 2 ticks, list total = 2): I finally managed to name a couple of these to species level: Nemoura cinerea from Holt Lowes and Leuctra geniculata from Barnhamcross Common.

Barkflies (6 species, 3 ticks, list total = 6): new species were Caecilius fuscopterus (Poringland Woods), Ectopsocus briggsi (Shotesham) and Stenopsocus immaculatus (Thetford).

Snakeflies (2 species, 2 ticks, list total = 2): I was very pleased to find my first snakeflies this year, very striking insects. The first was Phaeostigma notata which I found inside the house, followed by two records of Xanthostigma xanthostigma around Shotesham.

Phaeostigma notata, Shotesham

Fleas (1 species, 0 ticks, list total = 3): one of my colleagues had an infestation of Ctenocephalides felis at home, and managed to bring some to the Nunnery!

Stylops (1 species, 0 ticks, list total = 1): the species presumed to be Stylops melittae was again recorded in Shotesham, this time from a male Andrena bicolor. I haven’t found any useful literature on these yet.

Cadddsflies (12 species, 9 ticks, list total = 20): I put some more effort into caddisflies this year, although they remain rather difficult to get to grips with. I’ve still not tackled the larvae, focusing on adults. These are easy to find at the garden moth-trap, with this yielding new species Beraea pullata, Crunoecia irrorata, Lepidostoma hirtum, Limnephilus auricula and Plectrocnemia conspersa. Also in Shotesham, I netted Chaetopteryx villosa by day, whilst elsewhere, the striking Trichostegia minor was at Woodbastwick Fen, Agapetus fuscipes  from Natural Surroundings at Glandford and Anabolia nervosa was at Two Mile Bottom. Plenty more species to detect in this group.

Silverfish (1 species, 0 ticks, list total = 1): recorded around the house throughout the year. The only other species in this order is Firebrat Thermobia domestica; it doesn’t seem to be particularly common now in the UK?


Ray-finned Fish (5 species, 2 ticks, list total = 8): the two new species were Minnow and Chub, both recorded previously but not conclusively so until now. Additionally, Brown Trout, Three-spined Stickleback and Eel were also recorded. Many other common species remain conspicuously absent from my fish list.

Amphibians (4 species, 0 ticks, list total = 6): no new species, just Frog, Toad, Smooth Newt and Great Crested Newt noted. Key targets remain Palmate Newt (common but not so in Norfolk) and the re-established Pool Frogs in the Brecks.

Reptiles (6 species, 2 ticks, list total = 6): very exciting to record Smooth Snake in Dorset, as well as the introduced population of Wall Lizards at Portland. However, I failed to find Sand Lizard so that remains a target for the coming year.

Two-tailed Wall Lizard, Portland

Birds (153 species, 4 ticks, list total = 426): following the pattern of the last few years, the effort being put into recording other taxa has meant far less time available for recording birds. However, four new species was my best tally since 2009, these being the splendid Citril Finch at Burnham Overy Dunes, the long-overdue Bee-eater (a flock of 10 twitched near Minsmere), the Hudsonian Whimbrel at Pagham Harbour and finally a Siberian Stonechat at Caister-on-sea. In addition, a late armchair tick came from the split of Northern Harrier (from Thornham in 2011). There were very few other birds of great note, although a couple of nice finds were a flyover Osprey from my office window and a chance Ring Ouzel on farmland near Mulbarton. However, I failed to record a great many common species, including Spotted Flycatcher, Wheatear, Grey Partridge, Turtle Dove (a depressing sign of the times), Mediterranean Gull, many seabirds and many waders (including Golden Plover which I didn’t write down but suspect I saw somewhere). My key target species according to BUBO Listing remain Great Reed Warbler, White-billed Diver, Semipalmated Sandpiper and Radde’s Warbler.

Citril Finch, Burnham Overy Dunes

Mammals (17 species, 0 ticks, list total = 41): the only really notable mammal record of the year was a dead (thus not counted) Polecat along the A11 at Roudham in March, presumed pure and part of a developing pattern (I saw another dead one brought in to work from Lackford also, whilst others have been reported around East Anglia). Seeing a live one could remain quite a challenge.


Mosses (13 species, 7 ticks, list total = 29): still a challenging group, but a little more progress. All of the new ones were common species.

Liverworts (6 species, 3 ticks, list total = 7): at the end of the year I found Metzgeria furcata and Radula complanata in the grounds of the Nunnery, then Metzgeria violacea on Otley Chevin.

Ferns (4 species, 0 ticks, list total = 19): no great progress with ferns again, and I remain unconfident about even many of the commoner species; much more effort required.

Horsetails (3 species, 1 tick, list total = 5): Water Horsetail was an overdue addition to the list, whilst Wood Horsetail was a pleasing find at Holt Lowes (only Norfolk site?)

Flowering plants (257 species, 69 ticks, list total = 900): lots of new species, many of which were around Portland thanks to John Martin. In fact, 51 of my 69 ticks were made in the four day trip to Portland and back. Nice to see I made it to 900 species by the end of the year, but many more easy ones still to find I think, so roll on 1000. I didn’t make an effort to write down all common species this year so many will have gone unrecorded (e.g. no records of Red Dead-nettle, Marsh Marigold, Cuckoo Flower, Hemp-agrimony, Bluebell, Selfheal or Cowslip, to name but a few). Highlights (not necessarily the rarest) amongst the new ones were Maiden Pink, Rock Stonecrop, Cranberry, Yellow Bartsia (top find by Nick Moran at the Nunnery Flood), Breckland Speedwell, Spiked Speedwell, Oxlip, Rosy Garlic, Burnt Orchid and Lesser Butterfly Orchid.

Spiked Speedwell, Weeting

Conifers (1 species, 0 ticks, list total = 4): only some naturalised Yew noted.


Lichens (24 species, 22 ticks, list total = 27): all of the new species (including 10 Cladonia spp.) were noted on a single specialised outing for these in the Brecks, huge thanks to Peter Lambley. I need to do a lot more with these!

Non-lichen fungi (46 species, 29 ticks, list total = 153): as usual, lots of help with fungi, notably from James Emerson and Tony Leech. Highlights were Green Elfcup and Ear-pick Fungus at Brandon Country Park, Dog Stinkhorn, Sessile Earthstar and Parrot Waxcap at Earlham Cemetery, Common Bird’s-nest Fungus at Thetford Warren and Collared Earthstar at Weeting.

Green Elfcap, Brandon Country Park

Other stuff

Protozoa (2 species, 2 ticks, list total = 3): two new species of slime-moulds were noted: Reticularia lycoperdon at East Ruston and Lepidoderma tigrinum at Thetford Warren Lodge.

Lepidoderma tigrinum, Thetford Warren

Outside the UK

Apart from a few work trips to Greece and Belgium (highlight the naturalised Siberian Ground Squirrel in a wood near Brussels!) and a short trip to Amsterdam at the end of the year, our main holiday was a couple of weeks covering a substantial chunk of south-east Europe. Wildlife wasn’t really the main focus of the trip, but highlights were Freyer’s Purple Emperor, Weaver’s Fritillary, Eastern Dappled White, Southern White Admiral, Common Glider, Orbed Red Underwing Skipper, Crepuscular Burnet, Stag Beetle, the awesome longhorn beetle Rosalia alpina, White-tailed Skimmer, Red-veined Darter, the bug Graphosoma semipunctatum and a brief but gripping view of a Wild Cat. No new birds unless the south-eastern Little Owl gets split as the “Cucumiau”!

Rosalia alpina, Bulgaria

Southern White Admiral, Slovenia
Freyer's Purple Emperor, Bulgaria

"Cucumiau", Bulgaria