The Wildlife Information Centre

Biological data for south-east and part of central Scotland

Crane flies (Tipula sp)
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TWIC Excursion to Crichton Glen, 16th May 2010

There had been overnight rain, and the grass round the car park at Crichton was seething with snails – mostly the brown-lipped snail, Cepaea nemoralis – as a large group of recorders assembled for the first TWIC recording excursion of the season on 16th May (Fig. 1). Crichton Glen SSSI is on limestone, a rather scarce habitat in the Lothians, and it promised a good variety of species, including some quite rare ones. We were not disappointed.

Some of the recorders at Crichton Glen, looking cheerful after a successful day

Fig. 1. Some of the recorders at Crichton Glen, looking cheerful after a successful day.

Crichton Glen is divided, roughly, into three sections: an open marshy valley below the church and castle, Maggie Bowie’s Glen at the south end (Fig. 2), which is well wooded, and at the north end the small Crichton Manse Wood (not part of the SSSI). There were a fair number of botanists among the recorders, so we got good lists for both mosses and higher plants. Several mosses were of interest: in particular, two species seen in Maggie Bowie’s Glen, Scapania gracilis and Barbilophozia attenuata, are very local in the Lothians, and are more commonly found in the more oceanic and upland areas in the West of Scotland. Of the higher plants, what is believed to be the only clump of Hemp Agrimony, Eupatorium cannabinum, in Midlothian was confirmed as still present by a burn, and Woodruff, Galium odoratum, and Sanicle, Sanicula europaea, a couple of ancient woodland indicator species, were nice finds. At the north end of the site there was a Grey Poplar, Populus ×canescens, an unusual hybrid.

Birch woodland in Maggie Bowies Glen

Fig. 2. Birch woodland in Maggie Bowies Glen.

As the sun came out and the air warmed up, the insects started to come out, and Green-veined White and Orange-tip butterflies were fluttering around everywhere. The hoverfly Dasysyrphus venustus (Fig. 3) joined us for lunch, providing what appears to be the first modern record for Midlothian (excluding Edinburgh), and in the marshy area there were many specimens of Neoascia tenur, which has not be recorded in Midlothian since before 1950. In the leaf litter of Maggie Bowies Glen there were a number of small snails, including the ancient woodland species Leiostyla anglica and the tiny Spermodea lamellata (Fig. 4), both rare in the Lothians.

The hoverfly Dasysyrphus venustus, apparently not recorded from Midlothian in recent times

Fig. 3. The hoverfly Dasysyrphus venustus, apparently not recorded from Midlothian in recent times.

The scarce ancient woodland snail Spermodea lamellata, found in leaf litter in Maggie Bowies Glen

Fig. 4. The scarce ancient woodland snail Spermodea lamellata, found in leaf litter in Maggie Bowies Glen.

Altogether an enjoyable and profitable day, with several hundred records obtained.

Adrian Sumner

TWIC is a company limited by guarantee - registered in Scotland No. SC234339. A recognised Scottish Charity SC034113. TWIC acknowledges financial support from Scottish Natural Heritage.