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current posts

 
Tue 31st March 2009 23:49 by Bill Urwin
Staple Common
Trapped at Staple Common tonight, used the 400W light at the far end of the track where they have made a stock control gate. Around 20 species to light including Frosted Green and a Purple Thorn. On returning home to check the garden trap, I found Dotted Chestnut and Nut Tree Tussock new for the year.
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Tue 31st March 2009 17:01 by James McGill
A few more moths last night including a Tawny Pinion at Thurlbear. I trapped for six years before I recorded this species in my garden. It's a distinctive moth compared to Pale Pinion but this is always easier if you've actually seen both. Note the nicotine-stained wing colour and the blackish thoracic crests and tufts on the abdomen. Around Taunton I find Pale Pinion outnumbers Tawny Pinion by about 3:1.

2235 Tawny Pinion

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Mon 30th March 2009 21:35 by Bill Urwin
Looks like it will be a more productive night tonight, with Water Carpet, Double Striped Pug, Diurnea fagella and Ypsolopha mucronella in already. Had some Sand Martins and Swallows fly over the house late this afternoon so summer can't be far off.
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Sat 28th March 2009 17:23 by Bill Urwin
Identification of Aggregate Species Workshop
Just returned from a thoroughly enjoyable day organised by Butterfly Conservation and delivered by Jon Clifton of ALS. It covered the necessary skills and techniques to enable separation of aggregate species such as the November Moth complex, Minors, Ears etc and also gave very useful advice on the Pugs and micros. Many thanks to all who helped organise it at BC, to the Somerset Invertebrate Group who loaned microscopes and especially to Francis Farr-Cox who, along with his family, was chief caretaker for the venue. It was great to see Henry Papworth again and meet up with moth enthusiasts from neighbouring counties who attended.
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Sat 28th March 2009 07:54 by Bill Urwin
Garden Moth Survey
What is it about joining an organised survey that gives things the kiss of death? Four Hebrew Characters my total catch last night.
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Tue 24th March 2009 18:00 by Bill Urwin
Caterpillar Photographs
Butterfly Conservation are looking for any high quality photographs we may have of certain species:

Oak/Northern Eggar - Drinker - Magpie - Privet hawk-moth - Lime Hawk-moth - Poplar Hawk-moth - Elephant hawk-moth - Puss moth - Sallow/Poplar Kitten - Pebble Prominent - Dark Tussock - Pale Tussock - Jersey Tiger - Scarlet Tiger - Sycamore - Miller - Alder Moth - Dark Dagger - Grey Dagger - Light Knot Grass - Knot Grass - Small Tortoiseshell - Peacock - Comma

If anyone can help, please contact Susan Anders,

sanders@butterfly-conservation.org

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Sun 22nd March 2009 22:15 by Chris Iles
Bombylius discolor...
...is apparently doing rather well at the moment.  Certainly I was very surprised to find a few last spring on an apparently undistinguished area of arable margin near Hemington (ST75/VC6).  Less surprising was seeing it on the SSSI chalk grassland of the Long Knoll (ST73/VC6 but administrative Wiltshire), which also has some interesting day-flying moths, a Forester I did not identify and what looks like Five-spot Burnet ssp. palustrella.  I understand discolor is also known from Radstock sidings (ST65/VC6)
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Sun 22nd March 2009 18:32 by Bill Urwin
Caloptilia species
The species in the photograph below turned out to be Caloptilia stigmatella. Thanks to James McGill and Martin Honey for their input.
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Sun 22nd March 2009 18:21 by Bill Urwin
Great Breach Wood
Trapped last night looking for Barred Tooth-striped. Despite a clear night that got cold fairly quickly, four were attracted to light. The supporting cast contained most of the usual suspects at this time of year.

In the afternoon before the trapping session I walked through the wood, which is still being cleared of conifers and beech trees in some areas. Near the Giant Sequoia, there were several patches of Primroses being visited by Bee Fly. I took these to be the usual Bombylius major but was delighted to spot the rare Bombylius discolor. This species has a UKBAP and is only found in 42 10K squares in the UK. The larvae feed in the nest burrows of solitary bees so the fortunes of the species are linked to the population strength of its hosts.  The tenuous link to moths is that these flies feed rather like Hummingbird Hawkmoth, the long proboscis is inserted down the tube of the flower while the fly often hovers with only its front legs touching the petals.

Bee Fly

Bee Fly - Bombylius major

Spotted Bee Fly

Spotted Bee Fly - Bombylius discolor

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Fri 20th March 2009 09:54 by Peter Tennant
Whitefield, Wiveliscombe

Despite a colder night we had two early firsts for the year - Water Carpet and Nut Tree Tussock.  In answer to your question Bill I would think your Catopillia is stigmatella of which over the years I have recorded 4 - but maybe I am biased as I have not seen semifascia.  James seems to have recorded plenty of both!

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Wed 18th March 2009 23:59 by Bill Urwin
Caloptilia Species
Had a nice Caloptilia species in the garden trap last night. I don't really deserve it, as I had gone through the trap without noticing it and it was only when I threw all the egg boxes back in that it flew out. It then landed on a nearby chair and kindly waited while I edged indoors, not daring to breathe, to get a pot. It is either C. stigmatella or C. semifascia. I am leaning towards the latter but am happy to be told it is either :-)

Caloptilia species

Caloptilia

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Wed 18th March 2009 12:54 by Peter Tennant
Whitefield, Wiveliscombe - Min temp 4 degrees

I was delighted to see Bill Urwin's excellent photo of the White-marked which is in M&BGBI described as "extremely local being sometimes confined to one wood in a district and absent from many seemingly suitable locations". There are only about 20 records on the SMG database all from the southern part of the county. I had one here in 2000 but despite regular trapping I have yet to see a second.  I agree with Bill that Grey Shoulder-knot is having a good year.  I had four in the trap last night intead of the usual singletons. Other recent firsts for 2009 include Early Thorn, Diurnia fagella, Pale Pinion and Engrailed.

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Tue 17th March 2009 23:46 by Bill Urwin
New This Week
Went out to woods near Chaffcombe this evening, trapping in a roadside pull-in to see if David Evans' record of White Marked could be repeated. Glad to say that one dropped onto the sheet at 10:18. A fresh emerged specimen with a superb sheen to it. The supporting cast was good, with 3 Water Carpet, 2 Diurnea fagella 1 Oak Nycteoline, 10 Twin Spotted Quaker, 3 March Moth, Early Grey, Red Chestnut, Chestnut, Grey Shoulder Knot, 5 Oak Beauty, 3 Engrailed, plus several Common Quaker, Small Quaker, Hebrew Character and Clouded Drab. I also met the owner, who is happy to allow trapping in the woods. It looks a very nice piece of habitat so no doubt further new records will be forthcoming later in the year.

2140 White Marked BU2

White Marked

2140 White Marked antenna BU

Close-up of antenna

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Mon 16th March 2009 19:43 by Chris Iles
Scarlet Tiger larvae
Scarlet Tiger larvae are out at the Combe Hay site (just south of Bath) where I have found them the previous two years.  At least 220 seen today, without me making any great effort.  The caterpillars are busy demolishing the stand of ornamental comfrey where they occur year on year.

2068 Scarlet Tiger larvae

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Mon 16th March 2009 17:31 by Bill Urwin
Early Grey - a bit late
At last, two Early Grey in the trap last night. 34 Small Quaker, 18 Common Quaker, 14 Hebrew Character, 2 Oak Beauty, 2 Grey Shoulder Knot, 6 Clouded Drab, 1 Dotted Border.

Has anyone else been seeing more Grey Shoulder Knot than usual? I've had counts of five at two sites now and several at home. Jack's Small Brindled Beauty along with the three I caught near Merryfield, makes me think they might be having a better year than normal too. Has anyone else caught one this year?

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Mon 16th March 2009 17:20 by James McGill
Jack Astley sent me this picture of a Small Brindled Beauty he caught last week. It was in his garden at Closworth, near Yeovil. This is a very good record!

1925 Small Brindled Beauty

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Mon 16th March 2009 17:09 by John Bebbington
Correction to my blog of 8th July 2008
On 8/7/08 I identified some parasitoid puparia as the Tachinid Sturmia bella. I sent them to Dr Owen Lewis at Oxford and he has told me that they are in fact an Ichneumonid, Phobocampe confusa. Apologies for the error!
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Sun 15th March 2009 09:53 by Bill Urwin
Dark form of Oak Beauty
Merryfield produced another gem on Friday night in the form of this brown suffused Oak Beauty. There is a rare black abberation of this species. More frequently found is this brown suffused form but this is the first I have seen.

1930 Oak Beauty dark form BU

Oak Beauty

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Sat 14th March 2009 21:09 by James McGill
I met Bill at Merryfield last night and ran a light under the small stand of aspen on the southern side of the airfield. One Lead-coloured Drab turned up. Both the tree and the moth are scarce in Somerset. I have seen specimens that Robin Clatworthy caught at Nether Stowey in the 1980s but its distribution in the county is generally unclear. Males have strongly bipectinate antennae.

2185 Lead-coloured Drab

2185 Lead-coloured Drab 2

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Sat 14th March 2009 09:37 by Bill Urwin
A group trapped Merryfield and Staple Common last night. No Small Eggar or Dotted Chestnut but Staple Common had another first record in the shape of a Red Sword-grass. On Thursday night I also had Ypsolopha mucronella at home. This Spindle feeder has an interesting resting position with its antennae flat to the ground and its abdomen pointing skyward in the manner of Goldenrod Brindle.

2241 Red Sword-grass BU2

Red Sword-grass

0451 Ypsolopha mucronella

Ypsolopha mucronella

1881 Early Tooth-striped BU2

Early Tooth-striped

0451 Ypsolopha mucronella face BU

close-up of face

2139 Red Chestnut antenna BU

Close-up of Red Chestnut antenna

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Thu 12th March 2009 23:23 by Bill Urwin
Last night my trap at home had among the usual things, a Double Striped Pug and an Early Thorn. This evening I did a quick recce for tomorrow night's trapping at Merryfield by trapping at the turning circle just north of Speke's Wood. Happily, one of the first moths in was a male Small Eggar but later on I caught not one but THREE Small Brindled Beauty!!!! The supporting cast included loads of Small and Common Quaker, Grey Shoulder Knot, which seems to be having a good year, 2 Early Thorn, 1 Engrailed 1 Pale Brindled Beauty, 2 Twin Spotted Quaker and 6 Oak Beauty. What tomorrow night will bring when we have several lights going, who knows but watch this space.
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Thu 12th March 2009 23:01 by Bill Urwin
Last night my trap at home had among the usual things, a Double Striped Pug and an Early Thorn. This evening I did a quick recce for tomorrow night's trapping at Merryfield by trapping at the turning circle just north of Speke's Wood. Happily, one of the first moths in was a male Small Eggar but later on I caught not one but THREE Small Brindled Beauty!!!! The supporting cast included loads of Small and Common Quaker, Grey Shoulder Knot, which seems to be having a good year, 2 Early Thorn, 1 Engrailed 1 Pale Brindled Beauty, 2 Twin Spotted Quaker and 6 Oak Beauty. What tomorrow night will bring when we have several lights going, who knows but watch this space.
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Thu 12th March 2009 18:36 by Ian Mathieson
An excellent night last night with more macro moths than I have ever had on a March night before. These included 5 new species for the year, Early Thorn, Twin Spot Quaker, Small Quaker, March Moth and Early Grey.
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Wed 11th March 2009 22:05 by Bill Urwin
Staple Common
Took a trip up to Staple Common this evening and am glad I did. Got the first record of Yellow Horned for the site along with 5 Dotted Chestnut, 5 Grey Shoulder Knot, 2 Satellite, 4 Pale Brindled Beauty, 2 Oak Beauty, 3 Twin Spotted Quaker, 3 Chestnut, along with lots of Common Quaker, Small Quaker, Hebrew Character and March Moth.

Will probably try Merryfield on Friday night for Small Eggar if anyone is interested.

1659 Yellow Horned BU2

Yellow Horned

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Tue 10th March 2009 20:24 by John Bebbington
Fisher's Lane, Dinnington
Fishers Lane with Hart's Tongue Fern
ST 398126
I happened to drive through Dinnington this morning and remembered Bill's blog from last month. I found large numbers of feeding traces of Psychoides on the Hart's Tongue fronds- but only above the SCC flail-mowing zone. I took a random sample home to examine iunder the microscope and found 2 P. filicivora larvae and 1 P. verhuella larva.

One frond also had several intricate Dipteran mines along the edges of the midrib, and an empty puparium which appeared to have been predated rather than to have hatched.
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Mon 9th March 2009 21:36 by Bill Urwin
Acleris literana
Another beautiful tortrix around at this time of year is Acleris literana. This moth is the Merveille du Jour of the tortrix tribe, patterned with green and black scales. Here is a close up of the head.

1061 Acleris literana BU2

Acleris literana (head)

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Sun 8th March 2009 12:03 by Bill Urwin
Acleris cristana
This wonderful tortrix is also on the wing at present. It can be very variable, but the thing that always gives it away is the scaletufts that erupt from the forewings.

1054 Acleris cristana BU2

Acleris cristana

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Sun 8th March 2009 10:39 by Bill Urwin
Small Brindled Beauty
This moth is still on the wing for those of you who want to try your hand at a Somerset record. This one was caught last night in Northamptonshire.

1925 Small Brindled Beauty BU3

Small Brindled Beauty

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Sat 7th March 2009 15:59 by John Bebbington
FINAL REMINDER RE. DISSECTION WORKSHOP
Richard Fox from Butterfly Conservation has emailed me to say that there are a few places left on Jon Clifton's workshop:

28 March 2009 Identifying difficult moths by genitalia led by Jon Clifton.
Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset. 10:30 – 16:00. 
Places must be booked in advance via 01929 406009 or nmrs@butterfly-conservation.org

The usual programme for Jon’s dissection workshops is as follows:

1. Introduction and discussion to ‘why we have to dissect’. 2. Chemicals used and their safety. 3. Dissection of a male macro moth. 4. Making a slide prep from the above. 5. Dissection of a female macro moth. 6. Students turn to do their own dissection. Please bring along specimens. 7. Describing of other techniques. 8. Species that can be determined in situ such as the November moths. 8. Rounding up, questions and answers.

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Sat 7th March 2009 15:28 by John Bebbington
GMS night 1
Yesterday afternoon was lit up by a Blackcap in full song in the garden - we've had odd ones around all winter.

A good night at the trap: Oak Beauty 1 (first for year) Hebrew Character 10, Common Quaker 9, Small Quaker 2, Clouded Drab 1 (first for the year), Grey Shoulder-knot 1, Dark Chestnut 1, Early Grey 1 (first for year)
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Sat 7th March 2009 12:05 by Bill Urwin
Not a bad haul last night. 22 Small Quaker, Common Quaker, Hebrew Character, Clouded Drab, March Moth, Dotted Border, Agonopterix heracliana.
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Thu 5th March 2009 19:46 by Bill Urwin
Garden Moth Scheme
Another reminder that this Friday sees the start of the 2009 Garden Moth Recording Scheme Year. Anyone interested in joining this scheme should contact the south west coordinator, George Davis, e-mail to(frandavis@lineone.net) for further details and forms. The aim is to record an agreed list of common moths for your garden on most Fridays between March and November. Total coverage is not obligatory, so the odd holiday period is allowed for but you can only miss out on a few weeks over the recording period. Friday is also not obligatory but is the evening that most choose. The aim is consistency per user, so same trap used etc. So far there are more than 40 recorders in the south west and the group has its own website and chat group.

http://www.gardenmoths.org.uk

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Wed 4th March 2009 20:26 by John Bebbington
Somerset Invertebrate Group AGM 20 March 2009
Good evening everyone.

Francis Farr-Cox of the SIG has just 'phoned me to extend an invitation to all Moth Group members to attend the SIG AGM at Shapwick Village Hall on Friday 20th March at 7.30pm. If you do attend please bring along "a dish of food as a contribution to a communal feast".

Doug and I will be attending and hope to see you there.

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Tue 3rd March 2009 14:13 by John Bebbington
Langport, night of 2 March 2009
A better night's trapping last night with 8 Common Quaker, 10 Hebrew Character, 2 Small Quaker (first for the year), one Dotted Chestnut (2260, Conistra rubiginea) and one Double-striped Pug.
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Sun 1st March 2009 20:47 by Bill Urwin
Saw my second butterfly of the year today, A Small Tortoiseshell at Barrington. This was beaten soundly into second place by a Red Admiral flying around Taunton railway station on January 13.

Another Oak Beauty in the trap last night.

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