Portland PSL Field Meeting

14 posts / 0 new
Last post
Portland PSL Field Meeting

Several people on facebook were keen on a Portland field meeting, and Sean Foote, Danny Widerscope and Seth Gibson have all agreed to help out with their local knowledge. We've gone with Friday 12th to Sunday 14th June 2015 which should be a good time of year - there will be loads to see.

I spoke to Martin Cade at Portland Bill Bird Observatory recently and he welcomed the idea of a PSL meeting using the obs as a base. I've asked him to hold all the rooms for us but anyone who wants to stay there must make their own bookings direct:
It may be worth saying whether you're prepared to share a bunkroom or not. The obs sleeps up to 24 guests but I think there are only 8 rooms so if everyone asks for exclusive occupancy, it only sleeps 8.

Nearer the time, we will book a table at a suitable pub/restaurant for the Friday and Saturday evening meals.

As to what we actually do with our time in the field, we've got plenty of time to plan that. I guess my personal agenda would be along the lines of:
have a really thorough look at everythng in the observatory light traps two nights running
run live traps overnight on Chesil Beach for Scaly Cricket and the woodlouse Halophiloscia couchi
look for the beetle Omophlus pubescens at Ferrybridge, as well as the snail Truncatellina callicratis, Wild Asparagus, etc
return to Borstal Pools to confirm the snail Truncatella subcylindrica
get Sean to show me Eudarcia richardsoni and Hairy-fruited Cornsalad
try and find Ectobius pallidus for Keith
dream of rediscovering the ground beetle Ophonus subsinuatus

Please let me know if you are interested in coming.



Gibster (not verified)
Oh hell yeah! :)

Yep, I'm massively "interested in coming", I absolutely love Portland and have many, many happy memories of birding, butterflying and beering. Amongst other activities, of course. The Obs will make an excellent base, Martin will relish the thought of all our records, The Pulpit pub is just across the field (in which Lulworth Skippers abound) and I'm getting excited already at challenging all new-comers to climbing Nicodemus' Knob after a night on the lash!!

This is one PSL event that I shall not be missing! Wild Asparagus at it's sole Dorset site is a gimme, Mark. It'll (hopefully) be third time lucky for me regards those sneaky Scaly Crickets though.

Count ...

.. me in!

I'll be there. Can't wait!

I'll be there. Can't wait!

More local gen

Malcolm Storey has been in touch with some good local gen and local contacts (he has accommodation on the island) so we will definitely not be short of species to look for on a 3-day visit.

Danny has suggested we might attempt to survey some under-recorded sites, or do some more detailed survey work on one or two rare species, rather than just ticking things off at known sites. And it's a debate we've had before about PSL field meetings. I think we'll inevitably do a bit of both - certainly I'll record all my favourite groups (beetles, bugs, woodlice, snails, etc) wherever we go, as will many others.

I love having a list of target species for a field meeting - something to look forward to over the next eight and a half months. But the best thing about PSL meetings is spending time in the field with ace naturalists who can show you 6 species you've never seen before without even leaving the car park, and are happy to share their knowledge with one and all. From previous PSL meetings, I've come away with a massive boost of enthusiasm and new knowledge, as well as a hatful of ticks. And had great fun!

Gibster (not verified)
Ophonus subsinuatus?

Well you've got me all hyped up! Let's go nail this beast! ;) http://carabidredlist.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/ophonus-subsinuatus.html


OK Seth ...

I'll put a magnum of champagne on ice just in case!

My first post on the forums.

My first post on the forums.


I am booked in the Obs and am looking forwward to it.

Just discovered that this

Just discovered that this season's assistant warden at Portland Bird Obs is my good friend Glen Maddison - birder foremost but recently getting into inverts, especially moths (and particularly those from the Obs MV traps!)  He's a bit of a character and well-liked by the locals. I think he'd be able to quite easily enlist a local fisherman to do the honours with a few lobster pots and allow us to add certain large crustaceans to the tally should there be sufficient interest (Mark - would you be happy to tick a lobster in a pot?!?!) 

Anyway, can I task him with anything before our arrival? Suggestions/requests below :)


Seth, sounds great to me. I haven't been rock-pooling since I was a nipper and none of that fauna is on my list - no crabs, no starfish, no anemones, no barnacles. Potential ticking bonanza! I don't tick stuff in pots but if we had a captive lobster I'd stick around to see it released back into the wild and tick it then.

Trap ticking

But surely you could in fact count a lobster in a pot if you saw it hauled out by the fisherman? I know you don't tick from pots, but you tick from traps...this is just a trap called a pot. Simple! :)


Malcolm Storey suggested we should have an itinerary for the PSL weekend. Everyone should know that they can go wherever they want, whenever they want, within the selection of sites that Malcolm has arranged permission for. But this is what I think the main group of PSLers will be doing.

Friday – PSLers to arrive in their own time and do their own thing. For me, I will be checking for the beetle Omophlus pubescens at Ferrybridge and then probably spending the rest of any time I have within walking distance of the Obs. Hopefully both Ferrybridge and the Obs vicinity will be good places to bump into other PSLers on day one.

Friday evening – a group booking for dinner in the Pulpit Inn.

Friday night – looking round the Obs light traps and torching nearby?

Observatory light traps – a thorough pan-species look through the traps could take a few hours?

Ferrybridge – retrieve Scaly Cricket live traps, check for an emergence of Omophlus pubescens (if it hadn’t already happened by yesterday), sieve for the snail Truncatellina callicratis, see Wild Asparagus, etc.

Portland – to the site for Eudarcia richardsoni and to Church Ope Cove for Hairy-fruited Cornsalad, with hopefully many other diversions and distractions along the way

Saturday evening –the Pulpit Inn again? (If it’s not as bad as tripadvisor makes out!)

Saturday night – possibility for more looking round the Obs light traps and torching nearby if people are still keen? Or light-trapping elsewhere on Portland if people bring traps?

Observatory light traps – another thorough pan-species look through the traps.

I think any pre-planned itinerary will be in tatters by Sunday when people will pursue their own interests, catch up with species they’ve missed, head off early to visit other places on their way home, etc.

Sunday will be a good day to go down to the Borstal Pools to look for Truncatella subcylindrica, etc. though looking at tide times (09.33 low, 16.54 high) it would need to be early in the day.

Matt Prince will take a group to Radipole to look for the spider Hypsosinga heri.

First light

Evening all, 

Any rough ideas what time light trap opening will commence on Saturday? I might be able to come down just for the day so wondering how early I can manage to get there from Reading. If I leave pretty much in the middle of the night, for example! I might be on gull ringing duty but if not hoping to see some of you next weekend. 



Friday night meal

I've taken the liberty of booking us in for our Friday evening meal at The Eight Kings pub. The locals recommend the food, it isn't too pricey and I vaguely remember that the beer is good (hence the 'vaguely') The Pulpit Inn, just a few hundred metres from the Obs, has had distinctly mediocre reviews since new management took over. But obviously feel free to give it a whirl if you fancy, the food is still good but the service seems pretty damn dire nowadays.

I'm arriving on Portland tomorrow night with Skev, a day ahead of most folks. I'll pop into the Eight Kings just to confirm the booking. Currently they can fit us in on Saturday night too if we fancy a second visit. Provisionally I've asked for the booking to be held for twenty guests arriving between 7 and 8pm. Ideally I'd like to narrow that time down a bit, what do folks think?

Click on the link to see the location of the pub. It's a fair walk from the Obs, about a mile in total, so if anyone wants to be nominated driver(s) I'm sure it would be appreciated.