UK favourite species

What are your favourite species, do you have a top 10 or 20 species of birds or plants or any of the ispot groups of organisms.
I was asked to come up with 20 plants, I could not think of any favourites so just came up with a list of very different species and from different parts of UK. Am sure I will change my mind about them many times.
So do ispotters have any suggestions and why, for example one of my choices was round leaved sundew as I had seen a picture of the shiny sticky globules as a child and had always been facinated by a leaf eating insects. Rather than insects eating leaf.

Stuff I’ve actually gone on a program of hunting for sites

  • Adoxa moschatellina
  • Asplenium ruta-muraria
  • Galanthus nivalis
  • Sorbus croceocarpa
  • Sorbus latifolia
  • Viola odorata

That’s 3 moderately rare early-flowering plants; a couple of whitebeams that I once went hunting for when the weather conditions that year resulted in heavy fruiting (which made them easier to spot); and a wintergreen wall fern.

That is an interesting list and depends on the area of the country. I occasionally go to sites looking for particular species although it is nice to find species by accident. In the autumn I went to a site looking for Cortinarius (fungi not plants) as I knew it was a good site for them but did not know which species would turn up, among others spotted Cortinarius croceocaeruleus | Observation | UK and Ireland | iSpot Nature which was a very nice find. I went to another site also looking for Cortinarius and found nothing which is the way for fungi.

On plants then another species to look out for is greater dodder Cuscuta europaea which I used to see every year in a different place along the river next to the university but not spotted it in recent years, also not walked along the river so often either.

I know some people make targets of species to look out for during the year, perhaps new ones to them or old favourites or species that they may see in areas they are due to visit during the year.

I’ve occasionally amused myself by coming up with a list of my favourite birds - but not so much just UK species. I would put great grey shrike and peregrine in my top 20. But also Asian paradise flycatcher (for beauty) and beach stone-curlew (for sheer whackiness). I’m a sucker for albatrosses, skuas, storm petrels and phalaropes, too.
On moths, I have a particular liking for merveille du jour and puss moth.
I don’t know enough about plants to have a top 20 - But I came across a crop of Dyer’s greenwood and thought that it was appealing. Harebell, too, because they look so delicate but have the ability to thrive in quite harsh surroundings.

What a lovely thread. I definitely have some favourite UK species. The exquisite orange tip butterfly for one but my passion really is birds so here are my top five UK species - in no particular order:

1, Tree sparrow, can’t get enough of them, that gorgeous chestnut head and black cheek spot. We very luckily still have reasonable populations fairly close by.
2, Kestrel - absolutely beautiful bird - and of course with their iconic hovering. We often see them hunting along the path where I walk doggo, lost count of the times we’ve had to stop and wait, which the dog never understands. I love how they hover in stages, dropping ever lower.
3, The cuckoo - what a life cycle and there’s something so emotive to me about that distinctive call. Although I very sadly haven’t heard it in my village for more than 10 years now.
4, Short eared owl, such glorious markings and that face when you see it head on - wow! I’ve only seen them once and there were 2 quartering on the hillside at dusk - I’ll never forget it.
5, Blackbird - I love their feistiness and their beautiful song. I also love how incredibly noisy they can be when they’re crashing through the undergrowth! I know they’re really common but I’m learning sadly that you can never take anything for granted these days.
Blimey, choosing just 5 caused me all kinds of difficulties there :grinning: next time I won’t limit myself so much!

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Now we need some invertebrates and seaweeds and other groups of organisms! Can throw in a seaweed big codium | Observation | UK and Ireland | iSpot Nature possibly because I had not really recognised it until seen on Orkney and it looks rather strange, actually lots of the seaweed Derek comes up with are very nice.
Also how about sand lizard, especially the male with that bright green stripe. Had seen some very nice ones on a bit of heathland but when I went back in following years to photograph them then they were never around or not posing nicely so that is still a species I want to see again in its glory.
Speaking of green then Wasp | Observation | UK and Ireland | iSpot Nature are very nice colour too.

For mammals, I find red panda and black and white ruffed lemurs to be peak cute. Among British species, red squirrel. Add sifaka and arctic fox to the mix. Not restricting the criteria to cuteness brings tiger and red deer into play.

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I once went to Cricklade North Meadow to see the Fritillary, the plant, not the butterfly, Fritillaria meleagris.

When I mentioned to others they said “What, all that way to see one plant?” I said, Yes but there were a million of them”.”
Lying down at ground level to look through the vista of flowering stems was a memorable experience, so F. meleagris is a favourite.d

What I like about the forum is that I can easily italicise the latin names. Pedantic, but pleasing nevertheless.

We (with my floodplain meadows hat on) have been working at Cricklade on F. meleagris for about 25 years with annual counts by volunteers. This year the count is 23 April, so long as the meadow is not under water, in which case we move the date as we had to last year.

Anyone can come along to help with the count although should sign up to let us know and get on the mailing list incase it is moved or other issues. It also details what to bring e.g. pencil, ruler, food, wellies and waterproofs. The counting and measuring of plants is done at 100 positions in 200 repeat quadrats across the meadow.

I am often one of the people organising the volunteers and telling what to do.

There is usually cake involved at some stage too if that is an incentive, made by local volunteers and of great variety and very edible!

Triops cancriformis and Chirocephalus diaphanus, obviously.

Lophopus crystallinus for its beauty and because it was the first rarity I ever found.

Reed beetles Donacia, Plateumaris and Macroplea are favourites because of the satisfaction I have had from successfully searching for them over the years.

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Is it this Triops - Tadpole Shrimp | Observation | Southern Africa | iSpot Nature

https://www.ispotnature.org/communities/uk-and-ireland/view/observation/800593/plateumaris-sericea (is that a reed beetle?)

Can’t find the last one on ispot dictionary. Have included the links as I suspect these are a bit less known than some of the plants and birds.

Re the South African Triops: right genus but not the species we have in Britain. Re Plateumaris sericea: yes, that counts as a reed beetle. Of the 16 British species, only two have Phragmites as their larval food plant. (Italics this time, for the benefit of JoC.)

Thanks John, for the italics; I am even more pleased.

Miked- re F. meleagris, how many were there at the most recent count ( i,e, plants, not volunteers)? Was my ‘million’ anywhere near reality?

This would seem to be the ideal subject for a poll - but I’m not sure there would be enough responses for it to be meaningful, especially as we seem to be looking at a range of Orders.
Just as a matter of interest - has anyone ever built a poll on iSpot. The functionality is there (if you know where to find it! It doesn’t seem to be mentioned on the help pages, as far as I could see.

Yes indeed, poll, this is what I wondered before posting this topic as we very rarely use that function. It is available for anyone to set up not just admin people. However I wanted to see what kind of species turned up if we just asked a more general question first.

May be able to calculate the number from the graph in here (fig 6) : https://floodplainmeadows.org.uk/sites/default/files/resources/Journal%20of%20Ecology%20-%202022%20-%20Tatarenko%20-%20Biological%20Flora%20of%20Britain%20and%20Ireland%20%20Fritillaria%20meleagris.pdf
This is the data we collect each year, only one of the two blocks of data shown in that graph. The million figure has been a general quote for many years but as can be seen the number varies a lot.

That makes sense. There’s not much point having a poll if there is no common ground on what species are candidates to be in the top 10.

Fritillaria. By my calculation on Fig 6 ,that’s not even 250,000 using average recent counts. Oh well, my estimate of a million was wrong.

Difficult to estimate especially since the field is quite patchy and part of the sampling area is deliberately in a wetter patch where there are very few if any fritillaries. Sampling design to look at species composition vs soil moisture, same quadrats for full botanical sampling later in the year.