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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.

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

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