Birds, Leps, Observations & Generalities - the images and ramblings of Mark Skevington. Sometimes.

Sunday 4 February 2024

Panning via BUBO

Anyone with a birding background will be fully aware of the BUBO Listing website that has been around for many years. Around mid-October, BUBO [essentially Mike Prince and Andy Musgrove] launched a long-held idea to provide a PSL add-on to BUBO, with the potential for 1000s of species to be added across the orders to provide a more managed repository for PSL lists than the existing numbers-only website. This then allows all listers to see what is and isn't on each others lists, with automated queries set-up to see what targets and blockers there are in each group.

The new BUBO hosted PSL site is here: Pan-species Listing by BUBO

Adding everything progressively as orders were released was easy initially, but by the time bryophytes, fungi, slime moulds and lichen were available I was already playing catch-up getting my list on. But it's done now, with lichens and then fungi added this evening. Overall it was quite enlightening as I found a number of duplications and omissions in the process. The old website is still there, but I'll not be using it after finalising the numbers to match BUBO as of today [4010 species].

One of my actual recent ticks is a very bizarre worm that is widespread and may be common, but given it usually lives in the sublittoral up to a 1000m deep beneath the sand/mud it is not usually found unless washed up after storms. I was in Devon for a family wedding, and we had a nice family walk along the beach at Westward Ho! where at least four of these bizarre things were along the tideline. I shuffled one into a shallow pool and saw it was clearly alive. Quite why something living up to such great depths beneath sand should have such dramatic iridescent coloured chaetae is beyond me!

Sea Mouse (Aphrodita aculeata)

Back in October 1982 I saw Depeche Mode live for the first time. The support act was Matt Fretton, and I remember nothing of him apart from one song that was released early the following year and became a very minor hit. But it was one of those songs you sort of never forget, even if never listening to it. I recently looked for the song on Amazon Music - nothing there. Probably not on any streaming services. Luckily though - as it seems is always the case - someone has stuck it on You Tube. So for the nostalgia here it is .....

Sunday 31 December 2023


Another year comes to an end. And if I were to look over to the right of the screen, a sum total of 13 posts during 2023 before this one suggests a year with absolutely bugger all to show for it. Nothing could be further from the truth of course; I've been busy recording and enjoying stuff, but it absolutely is true that I have been generally more VC55 and moth focussed whilst getting used to life with my 'baggage'. I've had more nights out mothing in 2023 than in the preceding five years total! I've enjoyed some great live music, some truly awful Premier League football and then some more rewarding Championship football, and am thrilled to now be a Grandad (Granddaughter arrived in late Oct). It's been the first year since 2019 that I've been at work for a whole year without enforced absence, and that year at work has been one of the most challenging for a whole host of reasons. And I have completed a full year as VC55 CMR with the associated workload that brings.

But I am hopeful that I can generate more opportunities to rediscover some PSL in 2024, and I should note that during 2023 I finally passed the 4000 mark without really trying.

In the meantime, peace and goodwill to all (with my customary exception of fascists, Tories, war-mongering Heads of State, and anyone who thinks that people like Matt Le Tissier have a point).

Iassus scutellaris - Whetstone 23/07/2023 [first VC55 record]

Nematus alniastri - Huncote Embankment 24/07/2023 [first VC55 record?]

Caliroa cinxia - Ketton Quarry 13/07/2023

Chrysolina varians - Ketton Quarry 13/07/2023

Cryptocephalus moraei - Ketton Quarry 13/07/2023

Pristiphora leucopus - Lutterworth CP 09/07/2023

Aequsomatus annulatus - Cosby 30/08/2023 [first Leicestershire record?]

Medullary spots of Phytobia carbonaria in hawthorn - Whetstone 30/12/2023 [first VC55 record]

Caliroa cerasi - Whetstone 08/10/2023

Cladius grandis - Wigston 28/08/2023

Clathrus archerii - Sherwood CentreParcs 16/09/2023

Common Toad - Warren Hills 09/08/2023

Euura bergmanni - Whetstone 24/09/2023 [first VC55 record?]

Sunday 12 November 2023

Seal of Approval

A great weekend away in Lincoln/Lincs. with Nichola gave an opportunity to nip in to Donna Nook and have a look at the breeding Grey Seal colony there - something I've wanted to do for years and never got around to. We are a bit early in the season, with the first pup this year born in late Oct and this weekend c240 pups, c10% of the numbers that may be there within the next couple of weeks. I was surprised how busy the place was, with the viewing pathway pretty much full along the main stretch, but I was equally surprised how close to the path some of the pups and cows were - thought I'd need full zoom on my P950 to get a record shot but instead got a few frame fillers. A random selection here, in no particular order, of just under 250 photos I took.

Sunday 10 September 2023

A Good Walk (not) Spoiled

I've not swung a gold club in earnest for quite a long while, and it is even longer since I managed an after-work Friday afternoon round at what was the nearest municipal course to where I work - Western Park Golf Course. Even if I wanted to, there is no chance of playing there these days; it was closed to the public and abandoned as a course by Leicester City Council in (I believe) 2015. The Council could no longer afford or justify having two large municipal courses and closed Western Park GC whilst leaving Humberstone Heights GC open and better funded - the course where I first played in any way as it is just up the road from where I grew up.

Anyway, what I had become completely oblivious to is that at some point the site has essentially been opened up and is accessible. Not sure if that has been deliberate and formal, or just a by product of such a large green space being close to housing estates. I hadn't though about it at all until I noticed that both the tetrad where I work and the adjacent tetrad where the course is are lacking in leaf mine records. So I nipped to have a quick look after work in the week - no intention of recording there and then but just to sense check access and have a quick nosey.

The course is readily accessible from a strip of land known as the Kirby Frith Local Nature Reserve - itself a decent bit of habitat that I'd not bothered to look at before. There is a saying that 'Golf is a good walk spoiled'; an abandoned golf course is the very antithesis of this with a great mosaic of grassland and diverse woodland planting and spinneys. The club house and buildings have long gone, but the car parking area and the foundations are still there rewilding naturally. Have to say it all looked very promising and I will go back very soon to do some recording. Trees include plenty of oaks, poplars, White Poplar, Silver Birch, Hornbeam and Rowan. Long term though I fully expect - sadly - that this area will be turned over to expanding the large industrial estate and/or housing.

Watch/listen to 3:53 in for even more relevance ....

Tuesday 29 August 2023


Where the hell did the time go? Feels like I've been cheated, short changed or robbed. I've barely posted bugger all this year, and it appears nothing since early June. But, for a change, that's not because there was nothing to post about. But between bouts of activity I've been pretty busy and work and, you know, stuff. I'll have a bit of catch up one way or another, though not chronologically (or indeed following any logic). For a starter, here's a few new for garden moths and one or two highlights that haven't been posted.

Black Arches - new for garden, 29/07/2023

Bordered Straw - 27/07/2023, third garden record

Bordered White - 12/06/2023, the first here since 2002

Box-tree Moth - 30/06/2023, surprisingly the first here since adding it to the VC55 list in 2017

Crescent - 27/07/2023, fifth garden record

Dewick's Plusia - 28/07/2023, a return after adding to garden list last year

Obscure Wainscot - 12/06/2023, another return after adding to garden list last year

Small Elephant Hawk-moth - new for garden, 24/06/2023

Small Rufous - 27/07/2023, fourth garden record

Toadflax Brocade - 19/07/2023, recorded for fourth consecutive year here

Apotomis lineana - new for both garden and me, 09/08/2023

Lesser Treble-bar - new for garden, 15/08/2023

White-point - an overdue new for garden, 20/08/2023