2018 PSL Review

2018 has been a year full of new places and people! It started at university living down in Falmouth; I then spent the summer based at home in Cambridgeshire, but travelling to Scotland, Pembrokeshire, NW England and Norfolk in between working. Since September I’ve been based in the Scottish Highlands on a 12 month placement with the fantastic Aigas Field Centre! So I’ve been getting about the place a bit, but certainly not always had as much time as I’d have liked to look at wildlife, particularly invertebrates.

Here’s the table showing how many species per group I started the year on, what my targets were, and how many species per group I ended the year on (in green if I achieved/ exceeded my target and in red if I failed to reach my target). I managed to see -1 species of protists when I realised the species I had listed under protists was an alga, taking my total back down to 0 species, and making protists the only group for which I haven’t recorded any species.

Key stats: 887 new species, taking my total to 5064 species. Year target of 5000 total exceeded. 19 group targets reached, 18 targets not made. The largest increases per group were: Beetles (186 new species), Vascular Plants (120 new species), Bryophytes (98 new species) and Fungi (95 new species).

Group 2018 Start 2018 Target 2018 Total Species Added
Algae 40 52 81 41
Slime Moulds 2 3 2 0
Protists 1 2 0 -1
Lichens 49 105 101 52
Fungi 230 300 325 95
Bryophytes 216 260 314 98
Vascular Plants 980 1050 1100 120
Sponges 2 3 2 0
Comb-jellies 0 1 2 2
Cnidarians 12 15 17 5
Molluscs 114 125 129 15
Bryozoans 4 5 5 1
Annelid Worms 17 20 21 4
Platyhelminth Worms 4 5 4 0
Sea-spiders 0 1 1 1
Arachnids 135 170 156 21
Myriapods 54 58 58 4
Crustaceans 50 60 63 13
Springtails etc. 5 6 6 1
3-tailed Bristletails 3 4 3 0
Odonata 26 30 31 5
Orthopteroids 25 30 25 0
Hemipteroids 291 360 352 61
Hymenoptera 123 170 138 15
Coleoptera 509 675 695 186
Diptera 164 220 203 39
Butterflies 35 40 39 4
Moths 659 760 714 55
Remaining Insect Orders 28 40 49 21
Echinoderms 8 10 8 0
Tunicates 1 2 3 2
Fish 56 60 58 2
Reptiles 6 7 6 0
Amphibians 6 7 6 0
Birds 282 300 302 20
Mammals 39 42 44 5
Other Animals 1 2 1 0
Overall 4177 5000 5064 887

So that’s the numbers dealt with; here are a few highlights from the year! Many things are missing, this is just a small selection of random nice things from the 4 groups I added the most species to: Beetles, Vascular Plants, Bryophytes and Fungi, plus some new Birds, and a few other bits and pieces!

Top left to bottom right: Carabus intricatus (Blue Ground Beetle), a 35mm beast from night-time surveying at one of its relatively few sites nationally in Devon. Broscus cephalotes, a fairly frequent coastal Carabid from the Sefton Coast. Pseudaplemonus limonii, a fantastic metallic purple Sea-lavender eating 2.5mm weevil from North Norfolk. Anchonidium unguiculare, a mega-rare 2mm weevil from Oak leaf-litter in Cornwall.

Top left to bottom right: Epipactis palustris (Marsh Helleborine) from the Sefton Coast on a fantastic day out with Josh Styles and a local botanical group, with around 20 new plants for me! Gagea lutea (Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem) from near Thetford. Carex bigelowii (Stiff Sedge) from Cairn Gorm mountain, one of around 20 new alpine plants that day alone! Juncus capitatus (Dwarf Rush), one of a large selection of Lizard peninsula rarities I saw this year, including 9 (I think) new Trifolium (Clover) species!

Top left to bottom right: Southbya tophacea, a minute and rare leafy liverwort from Cornwall; a record shot at best! Sphagnum quinquefarium from NW Scotland. This odd colour form was particularly pretty! I’ve started to get really in to Sphagnum mosses towards the end of this year, and have considered attempting to see them all in 2019… Herbertus borealis (orangey) with Pleurozia purpurea. Two large (up to 10cm!) ‘hepatic mat’ liverworts from NW Scotland. Herbertus borealis is only found at 1 UK and 1 Norwegian site globally. Plagiochila spinulosa, a nice liverwort for my 300th bryophyte species!

Top right to bottom left: Sarcodon squamosus (Scaly Tooth) and its teeth! The spores drop out from between the teeth when dispersing. I found this scarce species in a Caledonian Pine remnant in Glen Affrich, NW Scotland. Pleurocybella porrigens (Angel Wings), a fairly frequent Scottish species. Asterophora parasitica, a mushroom that grows only on the decaying fruiting bodes of Russula species.

Left to Right: White-billed Diver (record shot) in Cornwall. Ross’s Gull in Dorset. Green Heron in Pembrokeshire. Ptarmigan on the Cairn Gorm plateau, one of many Scottish lifers this year including Golden and White-tailed Eagles. It’s worth a special mention about my 300th UK bird: the Baltimore Oriole on the island of Barra, where I got stuck for several days due to high winds cancelling the ferry! I didn’t manage any photos of the bird, but the image of it popping out into a bare tree just metres away will be stuck in my mind forever! I finished the year with 20 new birds.

This is a huge under-representation of the rest of the groups, but I couldn’t fit everything in with the time I had. I saw some fantastic species from most groups, but here are just 4 (of many) stand-out species this year.

Top left to bottom right: Halosalda lateralis, a scarce Saldid bug (shore bug) from a great week in North Norfolk. Ledra aurita, the UKs largest leafhopper at up to 17mm; it looks truly extra-terrestrial. Marsh Fritillary from the Lizard peninsula; beautiful. Limax cinereoniger from Devon. This huge slug is a main prey item for Carabus intricatus (the Blue Ground Beetle), so it was great to see plenty whilst surveying for the beetle!

Now, on to figuring out my PSL targets for 2019…

My other blogs from the year can be found by following the links below-

Rockpool stuff (seaweeds, isopods etc.), a bird race, some drawings and a millipede new to Cornwall: Recent rockpooling, and an assortment of other things

Twitching, bryologising, a mega-rare weevil and other invertebrates: Wildlife highlights from the last few weeks

A monster summary of half the years PSLing from every corner of the UK (almost): The last 5(?!) months

Bugs, beetles, birds and more from North Norfolk: Norfolk holiday

Loads of fungi from all over the highlands of Scotland: Demistifying fungi



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