Posted by Graeme Lyons , Saturday, 25 February 2017 13:40
I love this time of year. Specimens that have been sitting on your desk for six months or more suddenly remind you about how much you love natural history. I always get a bit jaded in the winter but there is nothing like a stonkingly rare carabid that I just can't key out to get my blood pumping.
I couldn't get beyond the key in Luff which said "upper surface golden metallic green", mine certainly was not. Purple/metallic black would fit better and I then did something I do a lot of with keys when I've been at the microscope all day; think the couplet is referring to the illustration in the margin when it's not. The answer, as is almost always the way in these cases, is hiding in plain sight. I find with times like this you need to either stop or call for help and as I was swinging towards a first for Britain in my head, so I needed an answer fast after two hour of going around in circles. So I sent the above image to Mark Telfer who got it pretty much immediately. It's the Saltmarsh Short-spur Anisodactylus poeciloides. It WAS an RDB species but it's dropped to NS (nationally scarce) in a review by Mark last year. It is however, still a BAP species I believe. On a recent survey, it was one of seven nationally scarce or rare carabids from a tiny section of saltmarsh at Seaford. Having two Section 41 species present shows just how important this tiny portion of habitat is. It shows how important this kind of survey is. Without it, how can we possibly know what to conserve or where to target habitat management?
It's a cool beetle with a glossy purple elytra and a rather funky three-horned spur at the front of the front tibia. The short-spur in the name is actually on the hind leg, you can't see that above. Best of all though it was new to Sussex Wildlife Trust reserves (I'm amazed it's not been recorded at Rye Harbour). It was our 9797th species and 1839th beetle. It's the first record in East Sussex since 1914 and I believe the first in Sussex since the 1970s. A big thanks to Mark as ever for being an inspiration.