News and information for all wildlife recorders in Ayrshire and Dumfries & Galloway.
After a quiet winter, better weather, more active wildlife and an improving coronavirus position resulted an increase in March records on iRecord, with more than double the number than was submitted for February . We are not running a spring recording challenge this year, as we did in 2020, but a few recorders in SW Scotland are currently amongst the most active in the UK. You know who you are, and we are impressed!
March's SWSEIC Species of the Month was Chiffchaff. The earliest report (so far) was one on 14 March near Whauphill by Crystal Maw, followed by 17 March at Maidens by Helen McDowall and several more across the region in the following days.
Following on from last month's report of pseudoscorpions, we received another record. Bird ringer, Heather Stevenson noticed some whilst checking artificial Sand Martin nest sites at Applegarthtown, near Lockerbie on 7 March. We sent two specimens to national expert Liam Andrews, who confirmed them as Nest ChernesDinocheirus panzeri. This is a new record for VC72 (Dumfriesshire) and the SWSEIC area, and the National Biodiversity Network lists only eight previous records in Scotland, seven of them over 100 years old, the other being in Lanarkshire in 1995.
A new survey is looking for volunteers in Scotland to help record Mountain Hares, SWSEIC's Species of the Month in our newsletter of December 2020. NatureScot (formerly Scottish Natural Heritage), the Mammal Society, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), the James Hutton Institute, and the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust are collaborating on a project aimed at collecting vital information on this species. Further information can be found here.
The National Forum for Biological Recording’s 2021 Conference is being hosted by Field Studies Council and will take place online, via Zoom. Subjects include recording urban birds, pollinators, slugs and beetles.
The conference is open to all and costs £5. Find out more on the FSC website.
State of Britain's Moths
Butterfly Conservation has published an updated report on the State of Britain's Larger Moths. It highlights some trends that are apparent in SW Scotland, including the recent spread of species such as Devon Carpet and Buff Footman, but the worrying decline of others such as Double Dart and Red Carpet. Overall, the report shows that the total abundance of larger moths in Britain decreased by 33% over a 50-year period between 1968-2017. The full report can be downloaded here.
Of the three native British newt species, Palmate is the commonest in SW Scotland. They are often found on land, in damp areas of the garden under logs or other debris, but visit ponds in spring to breed, laying their eggs individually on plant leaves. However, it is not always easy to tell Palmate from Smooth Newts, which is the commonest species in many other areas. The male Palmate, in breeding condition, is distinctive, with a fine filament at the tip of the tail and black webbing on the back feet. But the best way to identify female Palmates (and males out of breeding season) is their plain pink or yellow throat, not spotted as in Smooth Newts.
Some of the key identification features of Palmate Newts can be seen on the photos below and further information on the identification of British amphibians can be downloaded from the ARG-UK website.