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Thursday, 20 July 2017

One Goes Mad in Dorset....

Although supposedly on leave this week the prospect of a meeting on the future of moth recording at DERC Dorchester scheduled for Tuesday afternoon and an opportunity to deliver a Range Rover just 25 miles away on a two day trip I jumped at the chance.  With the car delivered and actually finding a parking space for the Ranger and trailer fairly close to the venue in Dorchester it all started well.  A productive meeting ensued, an evening meal at a local hostelry with 'lashings of ginger beer' and then up to one of my favourite trapping sites of old, near Hardy's Monument, Blackdown.  The nod to the Comic Strip production of Five Go Mad in Dorset refers to me questioning what on earth was I doing exposing myself to the inclement weather forecast, humid, very breezy and with heavy thundery showers and dozing in the Ranger when I could have been tucked up in the dry in a proper bed.  
Hardy's Monument, Blackdown
What a fantastic night!  Despite the heavy rain showers and spectacular light show from the thunder clouds, by using a strategically placed umbrella it offered at least some protection.  I did get wet several times rescuing the brolly which was whisked away by squally winds but luckily the bulb did not get damaged by the rain.  The monument can just be seen on the horizon in the photo above.  The highlight for me was fantastic views of singing, calling and wing-slapping Nightjars so close I could see the orange reflection of their eyes; they may well of course have been attracted to the moths above the trap!  I was able to attract over 300 moths to the trap and it was great to reacquaint myself with some southern species again such as Four-spotted Footman, Black Arches and White-point.  Due to limited time in the morning and not many pots I was unable to take any photos, but did hang on to this tiny 5-6mm micro for identification.
Elachista atricomella
The full list for the night is as follows:
  
  Dark Dagger / Grey Dagger (Acronicta tridens/psi)  3
  Uncertain/Rustic agg. (Hoplodrina alsines/blanda)  8
  Common Rustic agg. (Mesapamea secalis agg.)  12
  Marbled Minor agg. (Oligia strigilis agg.)  14
17.003  Honeysuckle Moth (Ypsolopha dentella)  1
28.009  White-shouldered House-moth (Endrosis sarcitrella)  1
32.018  a moth (Agonopterix heracliana)  1
35.031  a moth (Helcystogramma rufescens)  1
35.056  a moth (Metzneria lappella)  1
38.025  a moth (Elachista atricomella)  1
41.002  a moth (Blastobasis adustella)  1
49.092  a moth (Phtheochroa inopiana)  1
49.109  a moth (Agapeta hamana)  1
49.341  a moth (Cydia splendana)  2
63.037  a moth (Udea olivalis)  2
63.038  Mother of Pearl (Pleuroptya ruralis)  2
63.093  a moth (Agriphila straminella)  4
65.009  Buff Arches (Habrosyne pyritoides)  3
66.003  Lackey (Malacosoma neustria)  7
66.010  Drinker (Euthrix potatoria)  1
69.006  Privet Hawk-moth (Sphinx ligustri)  1
69.016  Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor)  6
70.013  Small Fan-footed Wave (Idaea biselata)  2
70.016  Riband Wave (Idaea aversata)  1
70.016  Riband Wave [non-banded form] (Idaea aversata ab. remutata)  1
70.037  Clay Triple-lines (Cyclophora linearia)  4
70.087  Purple Bar (Cosmorhoe ocellata)  1
70.093  Barred Straw (Gandaritis pyraliata)  1
70.094  Small Phoenix (Ecliptopera silaceata)  2
70.207  Clouded Border (Lomaspilis marginata)  3
70.214  Tawny-barred Angle (Macaria liturata)  1
70.226  Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata)  3
70.237  Early Thorn (Selenia dentaria)  1
70.241  Scalloped Oak (Crocallis elinguaria)  11
70.252  Peppered Moth (Biston betularia)  5
70.258  Willow Beauty (Peribatodes rhomboidaria)  3
70.284  Barred Red (Hylaea fasciaria)  2
70.297  Grass Emerald (Pseudoterpna pruinata)  2
70.305  Common Emerald (Hemithea aestivaria)  2
71.021  Coxcomb Prominent (Ptilodon capucina)  2
71.025  Buff-tip (Phalera bucephala)  8
72.002  Straw Dot (Rivula sericealis)  1
72.003  Snout (Hypena proboscidalis)  5
72.010  Black Arches (Lymantria monacha)  7
72.013  Yellow-tail (Euproctis similis)  1
72.019  Buff Ermine (Spilosoma lutea)  2
72.024  Ruby Tiger (Phragmatobia fuliginosa)  1
72.026  Garden Tiger (Arctia caja)  2
72.035  Rosy Footman (Miltochrista miniata)  6
72.041  Four-spotted Footman (Lithosia quadra)  9
72.042  Red-necked Footman (Atolmis rubricollis)  2
72.043  Buff Footman (Eilema depressa)  48
72.044  Dingy Footman (Eilema griseola)  5
72.045  Common Footman (Eilema lurideola)  3
72.053  Fan-foot (Herminia tarsipennalis)  1
73.001  Spectacle (Abrostola tripartita)  3
73.032  Nut-tree Tussock (Colocasia coryli)  37
73.162  Dark Arches (Apamea monoglypha)  12
73.216  Dun-bar (Cosmia trapezina)  5
73.293  Smoky Wainscot (Mythimna impura)  2
73.297  White-point (Mythimna albipuncta)  1
73.317  Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis)  2
73.325  Shuttle-shaped Dart (Agrotis puta)  1
73.338  True Lover's Knot (Lycophotia porphyrea)  2
73.343  Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (Noctua fimbriata)  2
73.345  Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes)  2
73.346  Least Yellow Underwing (Noctua interjecta caliginosa)  2

Monday, 17 July 2017

Valerian Pug

Trapped at Hag Wood, Kilburn on 7th July 2017 and as with many pugs the photos have languished in my TBC file....  When I first potted it I was immediately struck on its lack of features not through wear but its plainness generally.  It was roughly 20mm across and once photographed I was able to study it in detail.  I cannot deny I really struggled with it.  Only for the reason it was 'plain' did I consider Plain Pug and posted an image on the Pugs Flying Tonight website where Valerian Pug was suggested.  Looking into other images of Valerian Pug I feel that this is a good call.  For what has such indistinctive features it is actually quite distinctive and there were a number of features noted on each of the web images from trusted sites; I plotted the features good for this species on one of my photos.
Valerian Pug
This is a scarce moth in the UK although reported in small numbers from most counties, it is rare in Yorkshire with last accepted VC62 record in 1913.  The foodplant is Common Valerian which according to BSBI maps does occur in the Kilburn area and I will be looking out for the plant on my next visit.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Mixed success at Pilmoor, VC62 night of 15 July 2017

With the temperature dropping no lower than +17.8 it seemed like a good opportunity to leave the traps out overnight at Pilmoor.  Having snatched a few hours sleep at home I returned to Pilmoor at 04:45 and rather worryingly could not see the lights shining in the woodland.  On stopping the car I could still hear the generator so despite being chained to a tree at least it hadn't been stolen, but presumably the vibration had shaken the plug loose.  There were still a few moths in the traps so had presumably been working for at least half the night before failing.  The highlight was an Apotomis semifasciana which evaded capture in a pot but was seen very well; despite being a great Yorkshire rarity I have captured at least 15 in the Pilmoor area.  
Cydia splendana

Acrobasis advenella

Phycita roborella

A 'brown-tailed' Yellow-tail

Minor Shoulder-knot

Friday, 14 July 2017

England's rarest resident moth, Strensall Common, VC62

Having lived in Yorkshire for nearly 11 years now and resisted the temptation to 'twitch' the local real rarity Dark Bordered Beauty, I finally cracked and joined a walk amiably hosted by Dr Terry Crawford and Penny Relf. Strensall is the only site in England for this very rare moth and there are a handful of sites in the Cairngorms. With such a restricted distribution it is probably the rarest macro moth in England.  Having been recorded at Strensall for many years and monitored in recent times, there has been a decline in numbers since 2010 following two cold winters and uncontrolled sheep grazing which has decimated its food plant Creeping Willow.  Following local initiatives to construct small fenced protected areas and the control of grazing has allowed the moth to recover somewhat.  

Today proved challenging weather-wise; occasional sun, a stiff breeze and the odd spit of rain, but in the shaded parts felt actually quite warm.  By all accounts not as many butterflies as one would expect but still not a bad haul in total.  Resisting the urge to get too excited about seeing the first Dark Bordered Beauty in a pot I was pleased to find a male of my own a minute later.  I probably saw eight or so in the end and managed several passable shots.
Dark Bordered Beauty, female

Dark Bordered Beauty, female
Having seen the target species a long amble over rough ground followed looking for this and other species.  Straw Dots were everywhere as were grass moths, of those seen well all were Agriphila straminella; singles of Bilberry Tortrix, Common White Wave, Common Carpet and a Silver Y. Butterflies included a few Marbled Whites, good numbers of Ringlets and Large Skippers.
Ringlet

Large Skipper, male

Marbled White
Strensall is a magical place and thank goodness for the MOD whose presence goes a long way to preserving the site.  Also with the hard work of the Environment Agency, and various other conservation bodies and for the dedication of Dr Terry Crawford hopefully Dark Bordered Beauty may continue to survive.
Marsh Orchid


Thursday, 13 July 2017

Targeting Anacampsis spp at Pilmoor, VC62

Having caught a few Anacampsis at Pilmoor over the last few years and some variously attributed to blattariella and populella based on intensity and contrast of colouring.  However a peruse of trusted website images indicate a huge overlap and the reliance of gen.det. seems a safe course to follow.  All best intentions but then again I did not catch ANY!  Ho-hum one for another night.

As it turned out not too bad a night with 521 of 79 species, the best being two Mere Wainscot, following three previous recorded at the same site and another nearby at Sessay Wood.  There is an old record from the site in 1968 and these are the northernmost records in the UK of what is a scarce moth of restricted distribution.
Mere Wainscot
Other highlights were Beautiful Hook-tip which was only my third Yorkshire one and new for the site; singles each of Minor Shoulder-knot and Four-dotted Footman were welcome and the commonest micro was Epinotia brunnichana with 25.
Epinotia brunnichana

Minor Shoulder-knot

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Trapping at Hag Wood, Kilburn, VC62, night of 7th July

Yes I know, another night at Kilburn, but to be honest after such a good run of scarce moths it just had to be done.  A return to one of the original early sites I have used in the past produced 434 of 84 identifiable species.  The highlights were my first Yorkshire Beautiful Hook-tips (two) a southern species moving north into the county; two of the larch feeding Ptycholomoides aeriferana, a recent arrival to the UK but now widespread in small numbers; another Olindia schumacerana, this and the last one a week before showing only a trace of the cream coloured 'belt'; four Blomer’s Rivulet and a Larch Pug.
Ptycholomoides aeriferana

Olindia schumacerana

Olindia schumacerana

Apotomos betuletana

Spilonota ocellana 

Larch Pug
A daytime walk of the site today offered a couple of Silver Y nectaring, but no other moths of interest.  

Trapping at Kilburn, VC62, night of 1st July

Having studied the Kilburn area using google Earth looking for new potential accessible habitat I decided to try some of the higher tracks below Roulston Scar to the west of the White Horse. However on arrival I found the tracks to be more like paths and none were driveable and I had not brought my wheelbarrow or sacktruck to move the equipment any distance.  Feeling thwarted on this occasion I headed back to one of the main tracks where three meet at the foot of Hood Hill and chose the NE fork and located myself on a bend surrounded by mixed conifer and broad-leaved woodland. It was quite a breezy night especially around midnight as a very weak front passed through allowing a short period of very fine drizzle before clearing.  As it turned out, a fair night with some 415 moths of 83 species including three new micros.

The three new ones were a Carpatolechia fugitivella, an wych elm feeder, a very faded Epinotia tedella and a white marked rather than yellow Pammene regiana (awaiting gen.det.)  Each took some time to identify for different reasons: the first is not illustrated in Sterling and Parsons and I just stumbled across it while looking for something else on the internet; the second appeared non-descript but the faint marking matched similar images online including the buffy head colour and the white 'nick' in the trailing edge of the wing; and finally the Pammene patch colour is usually yellow or cream but white ones do appear in various photo libraries. 
Carpatolechia fugitivella

Epinotia tedella

Pammene regiana
The best of the rest included Larch Pug, another Clouded Magpie, seven Blomer's Rivulets, all confirming the mix of broad-leaved trees including Elm and various conifer trees including Larch and Norway Spruce.  A small selection of other species trapped are included below.

Eucosma cana

Dichrorampha acuminatana

Brown China-mark

Shaded Broad-bar

Double Square-spot

Monday, 26 June 2017

Trapping at Pilmoor, VC62, night of 24th June

Pilmoor at his time of the year is always hard work due to the insects...the biting type!  Armed with my full-strength insect repellent I gave it a go.  There was a stiff breeze from the west so at least the trees either side of the old railway track would offer some protection from the wind.  I had three traps set, the 160w MVB over a white sheet on the main track under the aspen trees, the 125w MV Robinson in the woods and a 2 x 22w Gladiator trap again on the main track.  As it turned out, not a bad night with over 550 moths of at least 86 species being a fairly respectable haul including two new moths for me: a Beautiful Carpet and a Willow Tortrix Epinotia cruciana  The micro barely resembled the illustration in Sterling and Parsons and had me stumped all day but with the powers of the internet within minutes had a reply identifying it.  A trawl of photos of that species confirmed it and it is a very scarce moth in Yorkshire as a whole with possibly just a couple of previous records in VC62. Also of note were my first Four-dotted Footman for five years, just two recorded, but bearing in mind I have had them just into three figures and certainly many dozens on previous occasions in the same area.

This species Ancylis laetana is a real rarity in Yorkshire with only a couple of recent sites and with three trapped there I have now had 12 of them under the aspen trees at Pilmoor.
Ancylis laetana
 This is the Willow Tortrix, again with very few recent records in Yorkshire.
Epinotia cruciana
 For what is just a 'brown' moth this has to be one of the most beautiful.
Scallop Shell

Wormwood Pug

Grey Arches

Clay

Rustic Shoulder-knot
This next photo is either lancealana or lacteana which would require gen.det. to be really sure; a shame as a well marked specimen.
A Bactra sp.
And finally just a record shot of the Beautiful Carpet which made a dash for freedom while trying to photograph it.  I don't often get new macros these days so this was a welcome find, and certainly lives up to its name.
Beautiful Carpet
And finally, I had three female glow-worms trying to compete with my rather bright lights, and indeed attracted at least three flying male glow-worms who must have been highly disappointed on arrival....  I did not get a photo of any of the males but it gives me an opportunity to show a previous female from the same site.
Glow-worm, female


Saturday, 10 June 2017

Update 2 on the Kilburn micros

Harry Beaumont has gen.det. the four micros I sent and offered a speedy response.  The good news is that the Ancylis upupana is confirmed and two others were identified as Epinotia tetraquetrana and Bactra lancealana both males.  

The slight disappointment and one I thought would be less of a problem was the Pammene populana. Harry kindly commented "The Pammene turned out to be more of a problem. The moth looks OK for P. populana but the male genitalia were not entirely consistent with that species. These small dark Pammene species are not easy and both Charlie and I struggle with them sometimes. I have slide mounted the gen. and will compare it with my slides of other species as I get time. One of the problems is that the characteristics between species appear to vary depending which book one uses." Oh well...still hope then.  Many thanks as always to Harry!

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Update on the Kilburn micros...

The good number of rarities caught at Kilburn on 31st May and 1st June have certainly caused some interest.  In order to get some records accepted, photos are just not enough and several moths were collected and have been sent for dissection and confirmation.  I do struggle with the concept of having to retain some species but reconcile the fact that in proving a rare species does occur that undoubtedly there are others present and adds weight to conservation requirements for a given site. One species I trapped on both nights and have only just put a name to it and the photos have been accepted: this is Ancylis upupana which is another Yorkshire rarity and of great interest as being right on the northern edge of distribution on what is a rare moth nationally.
Ancylis upupana
Of the other rarities trapped the photos of Phylloporia bistrigella and Epermenia falciformis were both considered acceptable, and although the photos certainly suggested Blastodacma atra and Pammene populana both needed genitalia determination for confirmation.  Unfortunately the B. atra was released but the other is winging its way to H.E.B. for determination and hopefully acceptance.  

Saturday, 3 June 2017

A rare beetle today...

With the minimum of preparation I set off on a vague search for the very rare and endangered Tansy Beetle Chrysolina graminis on the River Ouse around York.  It didn't help that I was searching for a plant with which I was not familiar, looking for a ragwort type plant with tight yellow flowers not even realising they do not flower until late summer....  Based on all that it was amazing that I did actually find the plant and some 30+ beetles.  What a cracking little beastie, a beautiful iridescent green and only c.10mm long!

River Ouse, near Fulford

Tansy plant in foreground

Tansy Beetle Chrysolina graminis 

mating pair

The Tansy Beetle was once widespread in the UK living in wetland areas, they are now found along the banks of a 30km stretch of the River Ouse around York, with a much smaller population recently discovered in Cambridgeshire.  In 2016 the York population was found to be c.40,000 individuals which sounds a lot, but when you consider how vulnerable the population is all in one small area that frequently floods this is a precarious situation.

Orange-tip butterfly

Cardinal Beetle Pyrochroa serraticornis 

Friday, 2 June 2017

Two nights in Kilburn woods, VC62

Having a week off and choosing the best midweek nights for trapping I chose a new location on an existing site in Kilburn woods not far from the White Horse.  Wednesday night was dry but breezy and turned out to be a night of exceptional quality micros, and this success prompted a return visit last night some 200m away in slightly different habitat on a calm and biting midge-filled night.

Night of 31st May, just over 300 moths of 70 species, but what quality!  The comments on rarity underneath are using not quite up-to-date information but certainly a reflection on their scarcity.
0128 Phylloporia bistrigella = 1st since 1883 in VC62

0481 Epermarnia falciformis - 3rd VC62 record (the other two are mine too)

0906 Blastodacna atra - only 3 Yorkshire records, the first in VC62 since 1921

as above

1132 Epinotia subocellana - I had two, 5th and 6th VC62 records

1242 Pammene populana - only 6 Yorkshire records - the first in VC62 since 1954

as above


Night of 1st June, over 470 of 68 species, the highlight being four Clouded Magpie which are simply stunning and I have only had a couple before.
0968 Cochylis nana

1885 Clouded Magpie

1887 Clouded Magpie ab. - a variable species but I have never seen one like this

2043 Orange Footman

2150 Grey Arches
In addition to all the moths I was lucky enough to have some Glowworms totalling 12 females and one male over the 200m stretch over the two nights.  Always a pleasure to see and duly reported to the recording scheme.