SWSEIC Recording Group at Port Logan, 11 May 2024

Our second SWSEIC recorders day of 2024 was held at Port Logan where we were greeted by wonderfully sunny weather. Nine recorders came to lend us their expertise on the day. Overall, we recorded 308 species over the two 1km squares that covered the Port Logan area.

Upon our arrival we were immediately greeted by a flock of Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus, a passage migrant to our coasts in spring and autumn, and Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis beckoned across the waves. Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula ambled across the shingle and Barbara & Richard Mearns spotted a Bar-Tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica. In the dune slacks and scrub Whitethroat Sylvia communis, Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus and a single Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia were in song.

Once our recorders had assembled, we officially started the day off with checking our small mammal and moth traps left over from the night before. Only one of Longworth traps caught anything which turned out to be Wood Mouse Apodemus sylvaticus, probably the most ubiquitous small mammal in D&G. Whilst common and presumably widespread this species is not particularly well recorded locally, nor indeed nationally, and we believe it may be a new species record for this 10km square. A Common Lizard Zootoca vivipara was found along the dunes whilst collecting the traps and several were spotted whilst surveying the dunes.

The moth traps caught 13 species including Tawny Shears Hadena perplexa, an uncommon coastal species associated with campions. Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla was recorded perhaps for the first time in Wigtownshire since 1989, which whilst not a rare moth it is often overlooked and can be confused with related species. The cranefly Tipula vernalis was also caught in the traps and appears to be a first for VC74. Richard & Barbara Mearns netted a number of additional moths in the field that day, including Feathered Bright Incurvaria masculella which may be a first record for the species in Wigtownshire.

We had a number of regionally and nationally significant finds on the day including a record of the ground beetle Demetrias atricapillus which we think is a first for this species in Dumfries & Galloway and perhaps even Scotland! Associated with tussocky grassland this species was swept from the dune by Malcolm Haddow. A weevil Sitona striatellus was caught by Bob Merritt; associated with gorses and its relatives, this species is likely commoner than records suggest but this appears to be a first for Dumfries & Galloway.  The sawfly Saddleback Grass Nematine Euura clitellata was also recorded on the day and whilst it is likely widespread and common (being associated with a wide range of grasses, sedges and rushes) it also appeared to be a first for Dumfries & Galloway.

Additionally, six new species were recorded for the first time in Wigtownshire VC74. Bob Merritt recorded the weevil Leiosoma deflexum and the dune bugging team made up of Lorraine Hall, Ashley Farquhar & son and Malcolm Haddow found Wigtownshire’s first Drymus sylvaticus a ground bug, Psylliodes napi a flea beetle, Ceratapion gibbirostre a weevil and Five-spotted Flutter Fly Palloptera quinquemaculata. Several of our recorders saw Rose Chafer Cetonia aurata on the day but Lorraine Hall managed to masterfully net one for a photoshoot; this species is not uncommon on the Rhins of Galloway but is absent from the rest of the region and indeed from most of Scotland. Other notable finds included the coastal jumping spider Heliophanus cupreus, click beetle Agrypnus murinus which is associated with dunes and the bug Parapiesma quadratum, a coastal species with only around 200 UK records but surprisingly it had been recorded in Wigtownshire previously.

Alan Wake and Lisa Hooper very kindly completed a plant list for the two 1km squares covering the Port Logan area. A species of particular note was Slender Borage Borago pygmaea, a plant native to Mediterranean islands and introduced to the UK and only known from about 20 sites nationwide. The early stages of Pyramidal Orchid Anacamptis pyramidalis were also a satisfying find at a known site for this locally rare species. Jim McCleary found the uncommon Oysterplant Mertensia maritima, and Nic Coombey found Rock Samphire Crithmum maritimum and Scots Lovage Ligusticum scoticum. Whilst botanising Alan and Lisa snapped the shiny green beetle Psilothrix viridicoerulea for which there are only a handful of records in our area, all from Wigtownshire. They also noted a number of coastal lichens including Sea Ivory Ramalina siliquosa and Anaptychia runcinata. Unfortunately, the group also noted the spread of Hottentot Fig Carpobrotus edulis, a plant that has become invasive along sea cliffs across Europe and whilst not thought to be an immediate threat in Scotland, with the current climactic changes we are experiencing it would be worth monitoring these plants spread in our region in case it does.

Whilst the group mainly stuck to the terrestrial, local seaweed enthusiast Nic Coombey recorded some of the intertidal species including Pepper Dulse Osmundea pinnatifida, Bean Weed Scytosiphon lomentaria and the rare red algae Pink Plates Mesophyllum lichenoides. Unfortunately, Nic also found Wireweed Sargassum muticum, a noxious invasive that threatens some of our native marine species and clogs boat propellers. Nic also recorded the beautiful Snakelocks Anemone Anemonia viridis and Jim McLeary found Butterfish Pholis gunnellus, both intertidal pool specialists. The beach was also sporadically littered with interesting marine flotsam including Common Cuttlefish Sepia officinalis cuttlebones (often sold in pet shops for parrots), Gooseneck Barnacle Lepas anatifera and a Spotted Ray Raja montagui mermaid’s purse. The remains of a small cetacean were also found but it was in the late stages of decomposition and was rendered unidentifiable.

Thank you to everyone who came along. We have certainly added some significant records not only for our understanding of the site, but also more widely, including many new finds for the Vice County, region and indeed Scotland. All your records will help support local research, conservation and awareness.

If you are interested in joining our recording group you can do so here: https://swseic.org.uk/wildlife-recording/swseic-recorders-group/

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