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Sunday, 18 September 2016

Copper Underwings

That time of the year again and I have had a small number of Copper Underwings sp.  I am aware of many of the stated differences between Copper Underwing and Svensson's Copper Underwing but am also aware that some of these features are not reliable and Les Hill is studying the species pair in some detail.  Having found one in the house dead which was the well-marked one from Brimham a couple of weeks ago, and escaped while photographing it in the hall at home, I spent some time checking over the individual.

The main features to check are as follows:

1/  Check the palps to see if pale (CU) or dark with distinct pale tips (SCU)

2/  The extent of the copper on the underside of the hind wing - restricted to terminal band (CU) or extending up towards the base (SCU)

3/  General colouration and contrast - very contrasting (CU), or not so (SCU) indeed Svensson's has been known as 'drab' Copper Underwing

4/  The two major points on the crossband - draw a line joining the two and extend to the outerwing - if directed towards the back of the wing (CU) and if slightly forward towards the base (SCU)

5/  The black and white markings on the sides of the abdomen - contrasting and well-marked in CU, less so in SCU

Of course some of these features are subjective and open to interpretation, others appear more clear-cut.  When applying these checks to this individual it throws up some interesting points.

1/  The palps.  In this individual they are clearly dark with pale tips indicating Svensson's.

2/  The extent of the copper on the underside of the hind-wing - limited, indicating Copper Underwing. (In the photo there is some shadow and a faint suggestion of darker copper extending towards the base but in reality and good light this is not so).

3/  General colouration - strikingly contrasting, suggesting Copper Underwing.

4/  The two point tips. joined by line and extended to wing edge - backwards suggests Copper and forwards Svensson's. On this one forwards indicating Svensson's.
5/  Abdomen markings - contrasting black and white suggesting Copper Underwing.

All in all, five features, three suggesting Copper Underwing and two suggesting Svensson's Copper Underwing.  I know many observers use the palps as the main (only?) feature to distinguish the two, but this one individual shows that it is not as straight forward as one would think.  I think this one is going to have to have its bits done to confirm, something I have done very little of but really should on this occasion, especially as it is already dead.  Watch this space....

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Trapping at Pilmoor, VC62, 8 Sep 2016

There were a handful of lowland northern species that Mike had on his target list and Pilmoor was the chosen site.  Cooler than the previous night and not as productive, but Angle-striped Sallow put in an appearance as hoped.  A total from my two traps of 112 moths of 26 species, Mike's still to be added. The most numerous were 27 Green Carpet, 16 Epinotia ramella, 11 Ypsolopha parenthesella, ten each of Common Marbled Carpet and Canary-shouldered Thorn and nine Large Yellow Underwing. The only possible migrant was a single Diamond-back.  Thee follows a small selection of micro-moths, including a poor record shot taken in the pot of Cydia fagiglandana which is relatively scarce in the County.
Acleris emargana

Acleris rhombana
Cydia fagiglandana

Celypha lacunana
Of the larger moths the following are attractive and includes the scarce Angle-striped Sallow.
Angle-striped Sallow

Canary-shouldered Thorn

One of the micros which always amuses me is the Ypsolopha sequella which when viewed from above gives a very passable impression of Bugs Bunny....
Ypsolopha sequella..a.k.a. .'Bugs Bunny' moth....
Not too bad a night and delivered some more species for Mike's list.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Brimham Rocks, VC64, 7 Sep 2016

Following a long planned visit to the area by Mike Snelling of Worthing who I had first met on a Hungary trip to Farm Lator, it seemed the weather looked best for the night of Wednesday 7th Sep.  As a fellow southerner, the call of northern upland species made Brimham a prime trapping place.  A warm muggy night with the temperature still +17 at 0130, the haul of 285 moths of 35 species was not too bad a total, and provided Mike with a handful of his target species.  The highlights were the very distinctive and scarce Epinotia trigonella which unfortunately avoided being photographed, but a female Anomalous sat well.
Anomalous, female

Autumnal Rustic

Neglected Rustic
Autumn is always brightened by the Sallow family and several put in an appearance as expected at this site.
Middle-barred Sallow (left) and Pink-barred Sallow
The commonest moths were 54 Autumnal Rustic, 51 Flounced Chestnut, 40 Large Yellow Underwing and others of note were 13 Barred Chestnut and 7 Neglected Rustic.

Trapping at Pilmoor, VC62, 28 Aug 2016

What a difference 3 weeks make!  Taking the first opportunity of time off following the excellent previous visit only 22 nights before, this proved to be somewhat of an anticlimax.  I trapped in the same location hoping to repeat some of the success of the previous visit and hopefully to secure some specimens of Anacampsis blattariella and the closely related and rare populella which I was sure I had caught before.  Regretfully neither put in an appearance and numbers and species were well down with just 74 of 24 species.  Besides an Angle-stripe Sallow the best was the first Yellow-barred Brindle of the year.

Yellow-barred Brindle

Monday, 8 August 2016

Trapping at Pilmoor, VC62, 6 Aug 2016

Saturday night's forecast was one of those that needed close scrutiny but I knew if I didn't go for it I would surely miss out.  A very warm muggy night  but with a front passing over around midnight the wind was due to pick up and a minor threat of at least some rain.  I chose Pilmoor again, this time the southern end of the track, a site with tall trees which may at least offer some protection from the wind.  As it turned out the temperature was still +25 at 2200 dropping to +17.1 by 0700, the wind did indeed pick up after midnight with strong gusts high up in the canopy which only occasionally percolated down to ground level, and only a very small spit of rain at about 0600 which caused momentary panic but then fortunately passed over.

What a great night with c1300 moths of at least 105 species, including several scarce moths, and at least four were new to me, and there were some very significant records for VC62.  The first new one was a tiny moth no more than 3-4mm in length and only a poor record shot taken before it made a dash for freedom.  However, the features noted are enough to identify it at Bohemmania quadrimaculella, a rare species in Britain and the first VC62 record since 1868!
Bohemannia quadrimaculella
Another new one for me was Dichrorampha acuminatana, only the second recent VC62 record after two in 1948.
Dichrorampha acuminatana
A Grapholita janthinana was also new to me and only this record is only the third site in VC62, the others are a handful of records in the North-east and a single record in the north of the county.
Grapholita janthinana
I had at least four Anacampsis populella a moth new to me and the first VC62 records since 1883; Harry Beaumont did profer some caution and suggested "To my mind your gelechid does look like A. populella but both MBGBI 4(2) and Sterling & Parsons both say that reliable separation of this and A. blattariella is only possible by dissection unless the moths have been reared (from sallow or birch respectively). This seems to be a bit extreme to me as all my grey Anacampsis have proved to be populella and all the black/white ones blattariella on dissection.".  Without actual specimens these may not actually make the grade for acceptance.  Here follows examples of each.
Anacampsis populella
Anacampsis blattariella
Three Caloptilia alchimiella added to last weeks record doubles the number of VC62 records.  A single Caloptila anglicella was new to me although not particularly uncommon.

Of the other moths trapped the overwhelming majority were of one species, the tiny micro Argyresthis goedartella with at least 450 counted, but oddly enough not photographed...  A couple of China-marks were new for the site, an indication of the damp habitat. On checking, the Ringed China-mark seems to be the first VC62 record since 1883 and the Small China-mark seems to be only the 2nd VC62 record.
Ringed China-mark

Small China-mark
A small selection of photos of other micro-moth species follow, with the last one photographed in a lid measuring 20mm diameter, giving an indication of the actual size of the moth.

Batrachedra praeangusta

Catoptria falsella 

Phyllonorycter geniculella
A quick summary of catch at Pilmoor wood SE on 6 Aug 2016

  Dark Dagger / Grey Dagger (Acronicta tridens/psi)  1
  Cnephasia species (Cnephasia sp.)  4
  Common Rustic agg. (Mesapamea secalis agg.)  2
  Marbled Minor agg. (Oligia strigilis agg.)  4
04.072  a moth (Bohemannia quadrimaculella)  1
15.008  a moth (Caloptilia alchimiella)  3
15.015  a moth (Aspilapteryx tringipennella)  1
15.028  a moth (Parornix anglicella)  1
15.086  a moth (Phyllonorycter geniculella)  2
16.001  Bird-cherry Ermine (Yponomeuta evonymella)  1
16.002  Orchard Ermine (Yponomeuta padella)  1
17.003  Honeysuckle Moth (Ypsolopha dentella)  5
17.005  a moth (Ypsolopha scabrella)  2
17.010  a moth (Ypsolopha parenthesella)  29
18.001  Diamond-back Moth (Plutella xylostella)  7
20.011  a moth (Argyresthia brockeella)  4
20.012  a moth (Argyresthia goedartella)  456
28.014  a moth (Crassa unitella)  7
31.001  a moth (Carcina quercana)  4
32.007  a moth (Agonopterix ocellana)  1
35.011  a moth (Anacampsis populella)  4
35.012  a moth (Anacampsis blattariella)  7
35.018  a moth (Hypatima rhomboidella)  2
36.001  a moth (Batrachedra praeangusta)  1
41.002  a moth (Blastobasis adustella)  7
41.003  a moth (Blastobasis lacticolella)  1
49.024  Chequered Fruit-tree Tortrix (Pandemis corylana)  6
49.025  Barred Fruit-tree Tortrix (Pandemis cerasana)  2
49.062  a moth (Acleris forsskaleana)  5
49.071  a moth (Acleris emargana)  1
49.109  a moth (Agapeta hamana)  1
49.149  a moth (Apotomis turbidana)  13
49.150  a moth (Apotomis betuletana)  15
49.214  a moth (Ancylis badiana)  5
49.231  a moth (Epinotia brunnichana)  44
49.240  a moth (Epinotia immundana)  1
49.249  a moth (Epinotia ramella)  25
49.255  a moth (Epinotia nisella)  10
49.279  a moth (Gypsonoma dealbana)  2
49.281  a moth (Gypsonoma sociana)  4
49.313  a moth (Dichrorampha acuminatana)  1
49.341  a moth (Cydia splendana)  57
49.359  a moth (Grapholita janthinana)  1
50.002  Leopard Moth (Zeuzera pyrina)  1
62.035  a moth (Acrobasis advenella)  2
63.037  a moth (Udea olivalis)  3
63.038  Mother of Pearl (Pleuroptya ruralis)  6
63.060  a moth (Evergestis pallidata)  1
63.064  a moth (Scoparia ambigualis)  21
63.074  a moth (Eudonia mercurella)  5
63.075  a moth (Eudonia pallida)  8
63.093  a moth (Agriphila straminella)  4
63.102  a moth (Catoptria falsella)  1
63.116  Small China-mark (Cataclysta lemnata)  2
63.117  Ringed China-mark (Parapoynx stratiotata)  2
65.001  Scalloped Hook-tip (Falcaria lacertinaria)  18
65.002  Oak Hook-tip (Watsonalla binaria)  4
65.005  Pebble Hook-tip (Drepana falcataria)  14
69.003  Poplar Hawk-moth (Laothoe populi)  1
70.011  Single-dotted Wave (Idaea dimidiata)  2
70.013  Small Fan-footed Wave (Idaea biselata)  4
70.016  Riband Wave [non-banded form] (Idaea aversata ab. remutata)  3
70.045  Shaded Broad-bar (Scotopteryx chenopodiata)  2
70.051  Red Twin-spot Carpet (Xanthorhoe spadicearia)  3
70.055  Large Twin-spot Carpet (Xanthorhoe quadrifasiata)  2
70.061  Common Carpet (Epirrhoe alternata)  3
70.074  July Highflier (Hydriomena furcata)  45
70.091  Northern Spinach (Eulithis populata)  1
70.094  Small Phoenix (Ecliptopera silaceata)  13
70.205  Magpie Moth (Abraxas grossulariata)  1
70.207  Clouded Border (Lomaspilis marginata)  1
70.226  Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata)  4
70.227  Bordered Beauty (Epione repandaria)  1
70.234  Canary-shouldered Thorn (Ennomos alniaria)  4
70.237  Early Thorn (Selenia dentaria)  2
70.239  Purple Thorn (Selenia tetralunaria)  2
70.277  Common White Wave (Cabera pusaria)  2
70.278  Common Wave (Cabera exanthemata)  6
70.283  Light Emerald (Campaea margaritaria)  2
71.012  Iron Prominent (Notodonta dromedarius)  14
71.013  Pebble Prominent (Notodonta ziczac)  6
71.017  Swallow Prominent (Pheosia tremula)  2
71.018  Lesser Swallow Prominent (Pheosia gnoma)  27
71.020  Pale Prominent (Pterostoma palpina)  3
71.021  Coxcomb Prominent (Ptilodon capucina)  1
72.002  Straw Dot (Rivula sericealis)  4
72.003  Snout (Hypena proboscidalis)  1
72.013  Yellow-tail (Euproctis similis)  5
72.024  Ruby Tiger (Phragmatobia fuliginosa)  1
72.043  Buff Footman (Eilema depressa)  4
72.044  Dingy Footman (Eilema griseola)  60
72.045  Common Footman (Eilema lurideola)  4
73.015  Silver Y (Autographa gamma)  1
73.046  Poplar Grey (Subacronicta megacephala)  1
73.084  Marbled Beauty (Bryophila domestica)  1
73.123  Rosy Rustic (Hydraecia micacea)  1
73.147  Small Dotted Buff (Photedes minima)  3
73.168  Double Lobed (Lateroligia ophiogramma)  1
73.216  Dun-bar (Cosmia trapezina)  62
73.293  Smoky Wainscot (Mythimna impura)  1
73.329  Flame Shoulder (Ochropleura plecta)  1
73.342  Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba)  123
73.343  Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (Noctua fimbriata)  1
73.348  Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (Noctua janthe)  7
73.353  Dotted Clay (Xestia baja)  2

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Trapping at Pilmoor, VC62, 30 Jul 2016

Following on from last weekends effort I chose the old railway line at Pilmoor for last nights trapping. Another good night, although smaller numbers and fewer species there were some quality moths to be seen with 480 of at least 70 species.  Probably the best of the night was a Mere Wainscot which is a very scarce moth in central and eastern England, rare in Yorkshire and my 4th for the site, and probably the most northern records in Britain.
Mere Wainscot

Mere Wainscot
By far the commonest species were July Highflier (76), Lesser Swallow Prominent (62) and Dingy Footman (53) and a good selection of others including Minor Shoulder-knot.

The next four photos are micro-moths and mainly less than 10 millimetres, although the Catoptria margaritella is a little larger and a stunning grass moth..
Argyresthia goedartella

Catoptria margaritella

Eudonia truncicolella

Red-barred Tortrix
And now a couple of the larger moths known as macros, although the last could be mistaken for a micro moth.
Minor Shoulder-knot
Small Dotted Buff
There were a couple of pugs that have defied identification, as were the Cnephasias and one or two small Tortrix.  Surprisingly there were no Four-dotted Footman, normally fairly numerous in this area but it is getting towards the end of the flight period.  It will not be long before some of the autumnal moths start to put in an appearance, and numbers generally will start dropping off.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Trapping at Hood Hill, near Sutton Bank, N Yorks, 23rd July

After a moth-free week in Croatia, just not possible in the resort and actually few moths seen in the car headlights, I was determined to spend Saturday night out locally in Yorkshire.  The weather was just right, calm and only high cloud, and the temperature still +24 degrees at 2200, dropping no lower than +14 by dawn.  I chose a new site just below Sutton Bank on the southern fringes of the NY Moors, at Hood Hill, part of the wooded ridge near Kilburn. Not a bad night at all with 826 moths of 110 species identified, of which one was new, and a further two were new for me in Yorkshire and a further two tortix are awaiting final identification.

The first new record for me was a Batia lunaris, a species scarce in VC62 with only single figure records reported.   
Batia lunaris
The first new for Yorkshire was Dingy Shell, a species I have not seen for 10 years since leaving Dorset, and fairly local in Yorkshire, so a count of nine was of note.  This photo was taken with my phone and composed so as to show the moths characteristic wings closed stance as well as a bit of the habitat in the background.
Dingy Shell
The second new Yorkshire one was the micro-moth  Cherry Fruit Moth which was quite common with 33 counted, obviously a Cherry tree in the close vicinity!  
Cherry Fruit Moth
Diamond-back Moths were still in evidence with ten counted.  A full list of the night's catch will be added shortly once any outstanding identifications are resolved.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Croatia 2016, update

More early morning wanderings on the peninsular, more of the same with the addition of Hoopoes, Lesser Whitethroat, and Olivaceous Warbler, presumably Eastern H. pallida.
Red-backed Shrike, juvenile

Tawny Pipit
Butterflies continued to be hard to nail down, but a selection of shots were obtained.
Painted Lady

Painted Lady, underside

Small Copper

Southern White Admiral

Southern White Admiral

Wall Brown

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Croatia, 2016

Sunrise, Istria
After a slow start with the first birds that I haven't already had in the UK this year seen 3 days into the break, it was a very pleasant morning on the nature reserve on the Premantura peninsular, Istria. Nothing rare, but fantastic views of Bee-eaters, Golden Orioles, Red-backed Shrikes, Lesser Grey Shrike, Cirl Buntings, Red-rumped Swallows, Tawny Pipits, Melodious Warblers, Sardinian Warblers, and the first Turtle Doves heard for some years.

The one field that held livestock was a magnet for insect-eating birds.  The large flock of hirundines was mainly Swallows, House Martins, a few Common Swifts and Red-rumped Swallows, and at least two Pallid Swift were picked up initially on call, then seen well.  Several Nightingales were heard grunting in the undergrowth and one made a poor attempt at song.
Butterflies were fairly plentiful but were extremely mobile.  I managed to catch up with a few and included several new ones.
Balkans Blue, underside

Southern White Admiral, topside

Southern White Admiral, underside
Near the entrance of the reserve was a tiny almost dried out stagnant pond.  The several dragonflies were standard fayre, and with the exception of the Darter it was almost like being in England!
Broad-bodied Chaser, male

Broad-bodied Chaser, male

Emperor, female ovipositing

Scarlet Darter, male
Hopefully a few more to follow.