Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Of snails and soldier beetles

I spent today at a snail identification course today. Organised by Sustrans (the sustainable transport organisation) and held at Water of Leith Conservation Trust, this was a course intended to guide the beginner through the process of identifying snails. Or at least that was how it was billed and everyone on the course was a beginner. However, I don't think I was alone in feeling that the course was pitched at too high a level, both given our level of present knowledge and the practical uses to which we hope to put the training (for example, when I do my weekly patrol for the Water of Leith Trust, I won't have the time to check every patch of vegetation and leaf litter for tiny snails, whereas I am more than happy to keep an eye open and record the more obvious species). It was fascinating to look at the tiny snails under the microscope and challenging to use a key to identify them to species level, but it might have been more helpful to have started by taking a relatively easy species and using it to demonstrate how to use a snail identification key. Even for people who have used biological identification keys they can be very tricky, particularly if you're trying to identify species of a group you're not very familiar with.

Anyway, we had a pleasant wander along part of the river to collect some snails to identify. The group altogether found around ten different species of snails in quite a small area and took them back to the Water of Leith Visitor Centre to identify them before releasing them back into the wild.

Here are two common garden snails, the smaller one is a youngster

It was interesting while we were out and about to see what else we found while looking for snails, lots of wood lice, lots of slugs (of several different species), a few centipedes and lots of red soldier beetles. These three seemed to be very busy

Yesterday I took this more artistic photo of a red soldier beetle on a harebell

You can of course, click on the photos to see them larger size.


eileeninmd said...

Sounds like a fun time, wonderful sightings and photos. Enjoy your day!

Lowcarb team member said...

That last photo is stunning ... I clicked to enlarge it !

All the best Jan

RG said...

Sounds like a training-update opportunity! (Did you raise your hand?)

This kind of detail often shows up here in our "Beach Naturalist/Monitoring" training too. So much detail in the classroom that it seems overwhelming. It surely would be good to get out in the field and use the key on the spot

Maureen @ Josephina Ballerina said...

Oh no! You experience seems a little like my nightmares of finding myself in the wrong class -on exam day no less- and having no idea what they are talking about. LOL!
:) m & jb who is taking "Intermediate Moth Stalking Techniques" this semester

Ian Doyle said...

Nice photos.