doug miller westonzoyland
31st August, With night after night recording the same species or perhaps the same moths the" new for year " seemed few and far between however from my last blog, new for year Coxcombe Prominent 14th Dusky Thorn 19th Canary Shouldered Thorn, August Thorn, Red Underwing and Green Brindled Crescent, 26th Straw Underwing 27th Barred Sallow 29th Pinion Streaked Snout and Pyla Fusca the 30th, Buff Ermine still regular and a Ghost Moth on the 29th
A nice night with 35 species, including: Jersey Tiger, Rush Veneer, Gold Spot, Rosy Rustic, Sallow and Pale Eggar. I used the 25 Watt actinic type energy saving bulb in conjunction with the 400 Watt helicopter dazzling bulb and it seemed to work as well as with the 125 Watt MV.
And Still They Come
All hail to Mike and Robin who went out to Hurlestone last night and confirmed the long suspected existence of Black-banded on the north Somerset coast. They had a nice selection of moths including several well marked Yellow Belle and Fern.
Another large number of common moths with firsts for the year of Dusky Thorn and Bulrush Wainscot. However the most suprising moth was an Alder Moth which would appear to be well out of season.
A neigbouring farmer kindly lets me run a cable from his garage into the local wood and trapping there last night I caught an Oblique Carpet. There are only about fifty records for this moth in the SMG database and this is only the second I have seen, the first being a little west of here at an event Mike Ridge ran at Haddon Moor in 2002.
I had a Canary Shouldered Thorn last night - a moth I always think of as starting the autumn season - also Frosted Orange, Feathered Gothic and both Marbled Green and Marbled Beauty.
What a difference the siting of the trap has made recently. My garden is quite long and narrow and twice in the last week I have trapped at one end whilst on another occasion I trapped about 40 yards nearer the house. The weather was reasonably similar on all three occasions and whilst I had 93 macros with 26 different species on the night it was nearest the house I had 756 and 868 macros with a similar number of species on the other two nights. This included catches of 268 and 278 Flame Shoulders and over 240 Setacious Hebrew Characters in total. These are the largest totals I have ever caught and are no doubt attracted by the huge amount of honeydew being secreted there by blackflys. The downside of the large numbers of moths was that they were joined by over 200 wasps on both occasions.
Last night,inspired by the picture of the Butterbur, I placed my trap in a stand of the foodplant that I have had my eye on for a few years a mile or so away from my house. Although I caught a few moths that are less usual in my garden I obviously didn't catch a Butterbur but it was interesting to see just 1 Flame Shoulder and not a single Setacious Hebrew Character nor a single wasp in the trap.
A trip to Berkshire last night at last gave me an opportunity to photograph Butterbur. I have looked for it in Somerset on several occasions without success. Having seen the moth last night my advice is look in late August rather than September, use torchlight and a net and give up an hour after dusk if you haven't seen one. This moth was found low in among the Butterbur stems, almost hovering.
A local View
Another little mood enhancer came in the form of a Portland Ribbon Wave caught by Robin Clatworthy on August 21. This is the first record for Somerset of this species and one of very few inland. Well done Robin for getting up early that morning before the sparrows had arrived to clean up the extras around the trap.
Portland Ribbon Wave
Agriphila latistria;no previous record.
Your Views Please
Yesterday I received a letter from the Acting Head of SERC. Why it came to me and not to Mark Yeates is a bit of a mystery, but I think it needs wider circulation as it may impact on the future of the group.
"Dear Mr Urwin,
Earlier this year XXXXXXX XXXXXXX carried out a survey into the activities and needs of specialist recording groups who work with the Somerset Wildlife Trust (SWT) and Somerset Environmental Records Centre (SERC). A report including recommendations was produced in April of this year and sent to SWT and SERC.
I am writing to inform you that I am now working with colleagues in SWT and SERC to put together a strategy that will enable us to move forward in a mutually beneficial way. We will develop proposals and discuss them with you in October/November, with an aim to introduce them formally in April 2009.
In the meantime if you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact me on XXXXXXXXXXXXX."
It looks like we will have plenty to talk about at the AGM. I am not sure what any proposals might be and am personally content to wait until they come along. If in the meantime anyone has a burning desire to enquire further, ring SERC.
A Greener View?
While we were up in Kent, drooling over the Rosy Underwing, we saw an actinic type trap in use at the house of the person who had the moth. On closer inspection, we discovered that it was using an energy-saving bulb. This is a 25 Watt standard screw-fit bulb, requiring no choke. According to the person using it, all her best moths had been in that trap. As she buys the bulbs wholesale, I was very quickly in possession of one and will report soon on how it does.
The "blue" green future of mothing?
A Rosier View
Even in the darkest of times, something can come along to lighten the mood. This extremely rare visitor to our shores was spotted by a lucky observer, clinging to the wall of a bird hide at Dungeness (the moth was clinging, not the observer).
Judging from the paucity of contributions to "Latest Sightings" I am not the only one finding this a pretty dull season. There have been some large quantities of commoners with seventies of both Dingy Footman and Flame Shoulder. My "scribe" refused to continue recording Large Yellow Underwings when we reached 199 tho we used to get 400+ a night in Northumberland!
Last night was a little brighter here with some 2008 firsts, September Thorn, Marbled Green and Rusty Dot Pearl. Yesterday, working its way out of the earth in a flower bed was a fresh Square spot Rustic.
Today a fresh looking female Silver-washed Fritillary is nectaring on our buddleia. We usually see them in the garden in August and I understand that this is because their usual nectar source in the woods, bramble, is no longer available.
Whilst the day-flying moths on the wing early in the year seem to have done poorly, the burnet moths have been present in good numbers. There have been very strong numbers of Narrow-bordered Five-spot in two colonies I check regularly in Midsomer Norton, whilst I have turned up a few new colonies of Six-spot Burnet, two quite large, whilst surveying for butterflies.
Chalk Carpet was seen on the Butterfly Conservation field trip to Draycott Sleights on 3 August. Afterwards I went looking for Grayling on the former quarry by the reserve entrance, where a number of Chalk Carpet could be found, exhibiting fine camouflage against the exposed limestone.
Also present were at least five of these micros, which I think are Pyrausta cingulata (could someone please confirm?)
doug miller westonzoyland
The only highlight of three poor nights due no doubt to the weather was a Oblique Carpet on the 9th.
In my garden I have several Sallow trees that are covered in blackfly. These are in turn producing copious quantities of honeydew which is acting as a natural sugaring site for dozens of moths every night. These are mainly common noctuids but amongst them are a sprinkling of less usual moths for my garden like Small White Wave and Magpie Moth. Yesterday morning my trap that had been left in this area overnight produced over 500 macros with 137 Flame Shoulders, 99 Common Rustics and 60 Large Yellow Underwings amongst them. Unfortunately for every moth that are sugaring on the honeydew there are half a dozen wasps doing the same thing. Consequently I had a large number of wasps in my trap which attacked several of the moths but also made inspecting the contents an unpleasant experience. Has anybody any suggestions on how to overcome the wasp problem other than cutting down the Sallow trees or stopping trapping until after the first frost?
doug miller westonzoyland
Over the last few days i have spent time getting second opinions on my captures the result, new for tetrad Jersey Tiger and Birch Mocha, new for year Canary Shouldered Thorn, Flounced Rustc, Ear Moth sp; and Olive, the catches have been very good in numbers, the 6th 38 Straw Dot 68 Flame Shoulder with others in the same league.
Langport, night of 6-7 August
Last nigth was the best so far this year with 300 individuals noted (a lot escaped!) of 75 species including firsts for the year of Canary-shouldered Thorn, Black Arches and Straw Underwing.
I saw a Humming Bird Hawk Moth yesterday afternoon at Ham Hill. This is the first I've seen in this country since 2006. My last few night's trappings have been quite boring with disapointing numbers and only common species as well as lots of wasps tearing the wings off of the Ruby Tigers. I didn't trap last night because I wanted to give the moths a night off but tonight is looking promising and I am hopeful of something more exciting.
After two nights when heavy rain discouraged us from putting out the trap we had an excellent catch with 55 species. Firsts for the year included Rosy Rustic, Scalloped Hook-tip and and only the third record here of the Four Spotted Footman (L. quadra). It was also the best night yet for 2008 quantity-wise with over 100 Large Yellow Underwings, 64 Dingy Footman and 49 Flame Shoulder.
doug miller westonzoyland
A poor night in numbers and species apart from one Dark Sword Grass.
The last week in Langport
I have been away working for much of the last fortnight with little time to do more than list what's been in the trap. However there has been a marked improvement in the last week with the warmer overcast nights. Including 'micros' (many thanks to James McGill for help in identifying many of these!!) I've had a total of 1187 individuals of 135 species.
The highlights have been the first Garden Tiger of the year, a couple of Jersey Tigers (far less common here than around Taunton) and a few migrants including Nompohila noctuella
Rush Veneer, Udea ferrugalis
Rusty Dot Pearl, Four-spotted Footman (a male, much less spectacular than James' female!) and a Dark Sword-grass. There has been a steady trickle of Silver Y in the trap, with far more nectaring at dusk on various species of Salvia
Male Four-spotted Footman
Garden Tiger - flash colours.
A night of large moths in Taunton including 11 Jersey Tiger and this Four-spotted Footman.
On August 1st we had our first second-brood Knot Grass and our first Cypress Carpet for the year also a lifetime first for me - Royal Mantle. This moth appears to be gradually spreading west in Somerset and this was its first appearance in ST02.
doug miller westonzoyland
Despite the rain on Friday night i had very good numbers partly perhaps because i moved the trap further down the garden the House Sparrows still go back to the origanal site, new for year Copper Underwing and Rosy Rustic, Peter mentioned the return of Shuttle Shaped Dart at his site while over here they have never stopped 37 last night.
A suprisingly good night considering the wind and rain with a Four Spotted Footman and a Mocha being the highlights.