Sunday, 19 August 2018

The Olive Salver

I met up today with members of the Northants Diptera Study Group with the intention of doing surveys of Boddington meadow and Byfield Pool. It was a mistake. We were far too ambitious and should have done one or the other as neither was given sufficient attention.

Conditions were very windy. It only affected me slightly as I spent most of my time on hands and knees delving into grass tussocks but for those attempting to employ a sweep net things were very difficult. After an hour or so we gave up and moved on to the Pool where heavy tree cover gave us much calmer conditions.

At Byfield Pool the Wild Angelica was attracting many insects.
19 August, 2018

Angelica, Angelica sylvestris, was in flower and was attracting quite a number of insects including a Median Wasp, Dolichovespula media. This is often quite an aggressive insect and when I took a specimen for confirmation at home I was more than usually careful; I have been stung by this species before!

Woody Nightshade, aka Bittersweet, Solanum dulcamara, scrambled through the damp undergrowth below willow trees. It leaves were showing the pale patches cause by the larvae of the Bittersweet Fanner, Acrolelepia autumnitella. This tiny moth is very common and most of the Bittersweet in the Byfield/Daventry area seem to get attacked.

The Bittersweet Fanner leaves distinctive mines on Woody
Nightshade. Byfield Pool. 19 August, 2018
In slightly drier areas dog roses were very common and in some cases the leaves had also been mined by a moth larva. This was Stigmella anomalella, an insect bearing the obvious name of Rose Leaf-miner. The dark line of frass (poo) down the centre of the mine is characteristic of this species.

Rose leaves bore the mines of - what else - the Rose Leaf-miner.
Byfield Pool, 19 August, 2018
Most of my specimens at the two sites consisted of tiny spiders of the Linyphiidae Family, i.e 'money spiders'. They await microscopic examination and might present me with a surprise but I have to confess that my haul was less than exciting.

Just before leaving I lifted a damp, rotting log and on the underside found Catinella olivacea growing. Known as the Olive Salver it is not often recorded I was pleased to find it as fungi are not a field in which I claim any expertise.

The underside of a log bore the fungus, Catinella olivacea.
A close-up shows the yellow-green rim to the dark olive discs which help to make this species distinctive. It was a rather pleasing discovery which helped to brighten an otherwise unmemorable day.

The rims contrast with the main body of the fungus..
Byfield Pool, 19 August, 2018
Having said that I intend to return to Byfield Pool within the next few days. I feel it still has much to offer.


Once home I examined my 'bag' and found that I had a Notable B insect (nationally scarce). It was the brick-red beetle, Platycis minutus. The tips of the antennae are yellow - a distinguishing feature of this species.
Platycis minutus is a nationally scarce beetle. Byfield Pool, Northants.


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