Wednesday, 2 September 2020

114 is not the story

One of the 114 - the striking and migratory hoverfly Helophilus trivittatus
Last Sunday's field trip to Chipstead Bottom with Graeme Lyons produced a (provisional) total of 200 species. Of these I had not seen 114 of them - these comprising Bees (6), Ants (4), Wasps (3), Spiders (25), Beetles (20), Flies (9), Harvestmen (3), Bugs (24), Hoppers (5), Millipedes (1), Midges (1), Snails (5), Lacewings (2), Grasshoppers (1), Pseudoscorpions (1) and Springtails (2). It came as no surprise to me that there were so many 'lifers' as I rarely look at these groups and certainly do not possess the knowledge or patience of a professional field ecologist.

As an aside, I still maintain my Pan-species list, although I rarely chase it. Recently Mark 'Skev' Skevington and I have been enjoying a friendly rivalry as we keep hopping over each other in the league table, but it is a bit of fun with a blunt competitive edge. I did, however, feel a tad guilty at adding such a substantial chunk to the list in one go, and only because of the expertise of Graeme. I coined a phrase a few years ago for those members of the PSL who spent their time joining various field trips to purely amass a large species total because of the knowledge of others - 'Pan-species Tourism'. And now I was one of those tourists...

In my defence Sunday's trip was about socialising and, in the process, learning. The number of species recorded, or length of the list, was a happy and welcome by-product. It was inspiring to see just what was lurking in a few square metres of grassland when a sweep net and beating tray were utilised. After such an experience you never see such habitat in the same light again.

Will I remember all that I was shown? In all honesty, no. But some of it has stuck. I will return to the list and look up the species, to try and familiarise myself and attempt to find them on my own. To spend time in the field and only look at the birds or plants is fine, but to ignore all the other life that is literally at our feet is a missed opportunity.

4 comments:

Gibster said...

I think your phrase 'Pan-species Tourist' is a stayer. Certainly I've used it several times over the years and not in a derogatory fashion (well ok, maybe just a couple of times in reference to one particular person. Alright two. But not you though!)

I've rocked up to a site with PSL buddies and been led by the nose to some lovely species (Midwife Toads, get in!) or watched them find and ID something that has made its way onto my own PSL (so long as I am happy they know what they're on about and I can see why the thing is what they say it is). The flipside being that I've taken several PSLers to various species that they wouldn't have found by themselves, or maybe have IDed for themselves and I don't see a problem with this.

It's sharing what you know with others and anybody who trivialises that into a numbers game is missing the point. Any naturalist that doesn't share their finds with others is either a weirdo loner or lives far away from everybody else. If someone jumps on that species ride for a day, then that's perfectly fine and acceptable.

One hundred and fourteen though...phew! :D :D

Steve Gale said...

Might just be heading out again this weekend with an expert...

Gibster said...

I think I hear sobbing coming from the Leicester area.

Steve Gale said...

Skev won’t give two hoots