Welcome to my blog

This is where I post various musings about wildlife and ecology, observations of interesting species (often invertebrates)
and bits of research that grab my attention. As well as blogging, I undertake professional ecological & wildlife surveys
covering invertebrates, plants, birds, reptiles, amphibians and some mammals, plus habitat assessment and management
. I don't work on planning applications/for developers. The pages on the right will tell you more about my work,
main interests and key projects, and you can follow my academic work here.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Nest of tiny delights

Wow - a month since my last post - there has been no shortage of wildlife to write about, just no 'spare' time to do the writing. However, the paid stuff is quiet for a few days at least, so I thought I'd share some observations of the small and hidden, to be precise what I found lurking within a used-and-the-young-fledged robin's nest.

The robin's nest before dismantling.
You never know what'll be hiding in a nest (whether bird or mammal) - there's always the possibility of some under-recorded parasites, plus the array of small invertebrates that simply use the structure as their own. So, a white tray, various tweezers and pins and some time later, this is what I found, along with quite a few Collembola (springtails) and Psocoptera (barklice) which I didn't collect on this occasion as I knew I would have time to work through the identification.

One of three similar pupae a few mm long, currently in my hatchery.
Another pupa, also a few mm long.
A very young spiderling, highly active and I think one of the wolf spiders (Lycosidae)
A tiny dead wasp, probably one of the Pteromalidae, possibly predated by a spider.
The exuvia (skin) of, well, I'm not sure...

Alive and active, the larva of what is probably a 'carpet beetle' (Dermestidae).
So, not much in the way of definite identifications - with juvenile stages, that tends to be difficult, though if any are successfully raised to adulthood, I will as ever update the post. Also, no parasites, but there was good evidence of a thriving community of small invertebrates potentially living out their whole life cycle in the structure of the nest with larvae, pupae, evidence of emergence, predators and prey.