Friday, 5 February 2016
Down the pan?
My pan species listing total has stalled somewhat over recent months. It currently stands on 3393 with the last addition being the migrant micro moth Syncopacma polychromella. And that was back in December. My embracing of the pan species concept hasn't loosened, but I have come to an acceptance that I am not one of those naturalists who has the inclination to name everything that they come across. I thought that I did, but I don't.
In the past couple of years I seem to have wandered back into birding as my first port of call when it comes to spending time out in the field. Lengthy stays at Dungeness Bird Observatory have undoubtably fostered this, along with the sharing of quality time with the great and the good folks who haunt the shingle. This has lead to less time being spent birding locally (which was becoming trying anyway) and a rediscovery of going that bit further afield. My recent visits to Pulborough Brooks have been not only enjoyable, but have made me realise that I cannot get my ornithological kicks closer to home. I've tried it and I (or it) has failed.
But my local area is not all about birds (just as well really). I am fortunate to have an incredible assemblage of plants, butterflies and moths on my doorstep - quite literally, as it happens. These three disciplines have been constant companions over recent years, and there is much to learn still. And this is where my pan species listing effort has fallen away.
When I first 'got into' it, I went out into the field and tried to identify it all - mosses, beetles, lichen, flies, fungi - you name it and I tried to put a name to it. But the harder I looked the harder it became. There is no short cut to correctly identifying a lot of this stuff. To do it right takes an awful lot of effort, not to mention the collecting of an awful lot of reference material (printed, online and specimens). Ironically, even though I now have more time to spend on this, I do not have the inclination to do so.
BUT.... just because I will not, as a course of action, attempt to name everything that I come across (or comes across me), I am still inquisitive enough to be curious as to the name of certain organisms that take my fancy. It might be an ornate fungus. A striking hoverfly. Or even a large and colourful beetle, like that pictured above. It is Carabus problematicus, that I found under fallen timber on Reigate Heath a few summers ago. I didn't mind trying to identify it, as there was only one confusable species, and even I could manage that.
I may well be saying "goodbye" to rising up the pan species league table (and have got used to saying "hello" to sliding down it), but that's all fine by me. Maybe this is the gentleman's way of joining in. I can sit back and applaud the players from the side-lines.