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Monday, 30 August 2010

A brush with a Constable....

"Identifying moths: a guide to the difficult macro and micro families" sounds a bit of a heavy course, held at Flatford Mill in Suffolk, but was actually an extremely rewarding couple of days.  The link to Constable is of course that this was where he painted the Hay Wain, with the waggon being pulled through the pond to the left of the main building, with the right hand end of Willy Lott's cottage in the left of the painting.
Flatford Mill
Willy Lott's cottage
There were nine of us on the course, which was run by Jon Clifton.  Friday night was cold and several traps were set out around the reserve, in fruit gardens, open areas and reedy scrub wetland.  Saturday morning was spent going through the catch, with the wetland area proving fairly disappointing.  There followed classroom sessions on the Hoplodrina complex, Common and Smoky Wainscot, the 'Scops', China-marks, crambids etc.. with reference to set specimens, and website images.  A review of the best available literature both for the UK and Europe was most useful.

Saturday evening, looked more promising after a rain shower, and so it proved with an increased catch next morning, which took till late morning to sort.  More classroom sessions, on the Dark Brocade and Confused, the features of the main micro families and where to find them in MBGBI, the history and use of pheromone lures, and an enlightening gen.det. session where what we all assumed to be a Tawny Marbled Minor was actually a Marbled Minor with reference to plates from a forthcoming identification book.

We ended up with 650 moths of 80 species, including the scarce Acleris shepherdana, three Hedge Rustic, 20 White-point, and a couple of Webb's Wainscot.  So, a very rewarding weekend in a marvoulous setting with good company, well tutored, and lots of facts to now try and put into practice.  I felt rather relieved that one of the other courses there at the same time was on 'Docks and Goosefoots' which makes looking at moths seem quite normal in comparison....

Thank you Jon for a good course, and I would thoroughly recommend similar courses run by the Field Study Centres.

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