Tuesday, 11 October 2016
On 5th October I was visiting Sulby Gardens, mainly to look for hoverflies. However, as I was walking alongside the shady stream I swept the vegetation. I took several common species of cranefly but one stood out as different because of its peculiar appendages on the last sternite. I keyed it out to be a male Tipula staegeri, subgenus Savtshenkia. The NBN gateway shows it as being widespread except in the Midlands. I sent a photo to John Kramer from the national Cranefly Recording Scheme and he confirmed its identity and that they had no records of it from Northants. It is an easy species to identify in the male because of the appendages on the last sternite, slightly mottled wings and a yellowish stigma. It is found alongside shady streams from late September to mid November.
At first sight the title seems to be irrelevant to this blog. However, it is the title of a new book by Pete Boardman. Although it specifically covers Shropshire and only the craneflies found there, there is much of interest to anyone who wants to know our craneflies better. One of the features of the book is the use of a synoptic key rather than the usual dichotomous key. This involves looking at a list of features, each of which is assigned a letter. By noting the letters that apply to your specimen you look up a table of species with those features. The detailed species descriptions and close up photos should then be able to confirm your determination. As yet I have not yet tried the keys so cannot comment on their effectiveness. However I have successfully used the species descriptions and photographs to confirm identifications where the Cranefly Recording Scheme's keys left me with some doubt. The photos, which are annoted, definitely clarify interpretation of the drawings in the CRS key.
The book contains a checklist of British genera, showing how many species there are in the UK and Shropshire and giving the latest names. There is also a checklist of species. I checked this against the Northants data and found one species from Northants that is not covered in the book. I intend to check that species is correct if I can find the voucher. Although there may be other species that occur in Northants but not in Shropshire, there is no doubt that the book will be very useful to cranefly enthusiasts in Northants.
I did notice a few minor errors but none that affected the usefulness of the book so I highly recommend it. An excellent piece of work.
Thursday, 6 October 2016
Dipterists Forum, the society for the study of flies have produced this video to encourage more people to get involved