Wednesday, 28 December 2011

'10 Macro species for January' challenge

Hello Everyone,

With another New Year looming I thought I would once again offer you all the Challenge of recording 10 macro species for January. It's not an easy challenge, but then, it wouldn't be much of a challenge if it was too easy, would it. See how you get on, I'll post the results at the end of the month. Good luck.

All the best,


Saturday, 24 December 2011

Morben Moth-ers - A Tale of 2½ Years

Before Ann and I attended the Cors Dyfi moth evening in July 2009 we could barely tell a moth from a butterfly, let alone a Plume Moth from a Pebble Prominent! However, that evening sparked an increasing interest in moths, and with Peter’s help we identified 83 species that year at our holiday park next door at Morben Isaf.

For 2010 we acquired two traps – a Robinson for use at home in Wolverhampton, and a Skinner for use at Morben Isaf. That year, once again with Peter’s unceasing help, we recorded another 183 species, taking the site count to 266.

Our recording at Morben Isaf includes the Skinner trap and the walls of the campsite toilet block, which has lights on all night. Early this season we often found many moth wings on the floor by the loos, but unusually low numbers of live moths, and we couldn’t understand why – surely March and April was too early for bats? Then one morning we discovered an enterprising Chaffinch perching on a door handle then flying up to pick moths from the wall. Thief - pinching our moths before we could get to identify them!!

This year, despite the ravages of the Chaffinches, we accumulated over 2000 records at Morben Isaf (1800 macro and 200 micro) and identified another 58 new species, raising the site count to 324. These included first county records of Argyresthia pygmaella and Hedya ochroleucana, but this latter has unfortunately since been discounted after consultation with “higher authorities”.

As Alan reported in his blog, we did indeed catch an Acleris cristana in November. We also recorded an Anacampsis populella at Morben Isaf a couple of weeks after Maria’s new county record for the species. Other highlights included firsts (for us) of Common Lutestring, Oak Eggar, Oak Nycteoline, Yellow Horned and the stunning Scallop Shell; we finished the season off at the end of November with a handful of Scarce Umber, just to keep Peter W. happy!

Happy mothing to you all in 2012 - Peter.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Mothing at Derwenlas 2011- A Tale of Two Traps.

As I sit in our cottage in Derwenlas writing this, wondering if the Winter Moth will visit the kitchen window again tonight, I thought I might give you a little background into my introduction to the world of "moffing". Two years ago, at this time of year I ventured into the attic to retrieve the Xmas decorations box and discovered what I later realised were hibernating Herald Moths. This was obviously an omen, as I received a Skinner Trap from my daughter that Christmas. And so began my introduction into the world of mothing and with copious amounts of encouragement and help from Peter I have just completed my second year here at Derwenlas. For me one of the significant events this year has been the purchase of a second trap which now means I no longer have to transport the kit 70 miles every time we go home to N.Wales. The contrast between the 2 traps is proving quite interesting. In N.Wales I trap in a small enclosed garden in a semi rural village. Here at Derwenlas we have no garden to the rear and the trap is set out on a small area of decking but this looks across the fields down to the R Dyfi and across the road is a hillside covered in mixed woodland. Montgomeryshire certainly produces larger and more varied catches but in N. Wales I have a few species I have yet to find at Derwenlas. Most notable are probably the Juniper Webber, Meal Moth and this year Cabbage Moth and this autumn Feathered Ranunculus.

Out of my 950 records this year, 608 are from Derwenlas and my "total species caught" has risen to 277. [Plenty more to go for then!] Among the more notable ones I have had to trouble Peter with are Incurvaria oehlmaniella, the second record for Montgomeryshire and the first since 1978, the Northern Rustic, and Acleris cristana. Interestingly it seems Peter [B] also caught A.cristana on the same night at Morben Isaf about 2 miles down the road from Derwenlas. Some of the more memorable moments include the Scallop Shell which had me chasing around the nettle field behind the cottage like a demented greyhound before finally surrendering its identity. {I definitely need a "Douglas" net.} And of course the Fox Moth which chose my specimen pot to lay her eggs. These duly hatched in about 3 weeks and then followed many trips for my "babies" to and from N.Wales with supplies of fresh bilberry, until I finally released them in a particularly tasty bilberry bush above Derwenlas to fend for themselves. I hope we might meet again in my trap in 2012.

Which just leaves me to wish all my fellow "Monty Mothers" a Merry Xmas and a successful 2012 season. And now for my letter to Santa- a copy of "Bird Dropping Moths" would be very welcome.

All the best


Friday, 16 December 2011

A Year (or thereabouts) At Cors Dyfi

2011 proved to be an interesting year of moth recording at Cors Dyfi, a reserve owned and run by Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, and which also incorporates the Dyfi Osprey Project.

This was also the first year of regular use of a proper moth trap on site – more on that later. Up until February the only records were from moths that actually landed on the building and stayed overnight, day-flying moths, or those from when Peter Williams brought his own traps over.

Due to lack of Trust funds, the occasional moth nights early in the year were quite innovative and involved the use of an aquarium light tube powered by a ‘powerpack’ type unit for a few hours. Whilst this attracted a few moths the numbers certainly weren’t into the hundreds and only occasionally reached double figures. I then purchased a trap myself and went for a rather unconventional one utilising a green coloured tube inside a netting frame, this proved to be fairly inadequate at attracting moths and the fish tube method reigned supreme until I managed to acquire a secondhand self-ballasted UV bulb which was much more successful and actually provided my first new county record for the site, cochylis nana – tiny but beautiful. A couple of months of make-do and of constant nagging to Emyr Evans, the Osprey Project Manager to get a proper moth trap and hey presto in late June a shiny new Robinson trap appeared on site (I had told Emyr we could obtain a good trap for less than £100 but when he goes for something he likes to go big so he opted for the Robinson).

It’s first use was just a few days after arrival and boy what a difference! Not only did it attract LOTS of moths but it also meant I could actually go and get a couple of hours sleep in the rather basic caravan before getting up early to view each catch!

The next new county record however had nothing to do with traps and was actually found on a willow leaf one morning – the rather beautiful epinotia cruciana, further new county records as can be seen on the Stop Press pages did appear in the trap though and not only new records but some absolute stunners too, moths that made me go ‘oooh’ and ‘ahh’ and ‘wow’.

The big news from this site this year though was of course the finding of the elusive Rosy Marsh moth, I’m still amazed I actually got one in the trap but it would have been nice to get a second or even find a larvae of this species – I guess for that I shall have to wait until 2012.

One of my most enjoyable times this year involved several nagging emails to Peter and eventual success in another new county record. In June I photographed a rather drab looking small black moth, it’s only interesting feature being the rather large and unusual antennae it possessed. After some investigation I decided this was psyche caste but Peter could not confirm this, the photos I had taken did not show enough detail in the antennae to give a positive ID despite several attempts to zoom in and despite about a dozen emails to Peter he could still not confirm the species. I did some more research and found that the female is flightless and lives in a larval case normally attached to a leaf and when I saw a photo of one on the web I came close to screaming – I had actually seen one of these just a few days prior to photographing the moth but did not realise what it was....however I did remember exactly where I’d seen it and within 24 hours I was back on site, carefully removing the leaf and case to monitor and photograph at home, it didn’t take much monitoring – 48 hours later the female had emerged, I’d got some good shots of her and Peter had confirmed the new county record of psyche caste at Cors Dyfi.The larval case was returned to site. All in all it was a valuable and extremely interesting time though I’m sure Peter’s inbox got clogged up several times with emails from me trying to establish this species. I’m nothing if not determined! Interestingly later in the year several of the larval cases appeared in a most unusual place – attached to a 3ft square plastic sign at the bottom of the car park!

The site now has several traps running on moth nights, the Robinson plus my own home made Skinner and a hanging bulb/sheet, I’ve even tried sugaring though I think my home-made concoction may need some refinement due to it attracting more arachnids than moths. I’m currently trying to convince the Trust, and Emyr, to get a battery powered trap which could be placed further down site onto the actual bog in the hope of attracting some more unusual species.

Over the past year I have become known as the ‘Moff Boff’ on site, with visitors and people on the Facebook site asking me to ID moths or caterpillars they’ve photographed. I do my best but I still have a lot to learn.

I’ve decided to include just one photo with this report, all of the new county records can be seen on the Stop Press pages and other photographs of unusual species are scattered throughout the site – it is by no means a rare species, nor is it a particularly good photo for use in identification, it is just my own personal favourite photo of the year , an extreme close-up of a Large Emerald.

A couple of new records were found from leaf mines on site, one of these found in common reed is proving quite interesting and further investigations will be taking place in 2012 to try and establish watch this space!

Maria E. Wagland

Cors Dyfi 'Furballs' Officer

Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Mothing at Bridge Cottage: 2011

As the year draws to a close and weather gets worse I've decided that I'll put the traps away, marking the end of fantastic year of mothing:

In 2011 alone I've recorded 15,287 individuals of 463 species (313 macro and 150 micro) and also had nine new county records.

That leaves my figures at 511 species (322 macro, 151 micro and 28 butterfly) Not bad after a few years trapping.

My highlights this year include 4 Nb. (national scarce B) species, all of which I caught for the first time this year:

Nemapogon wolffiella (also 1st county record)
Square-spotted Clay
Small Eggar (This was the first record for 60 years)
Devon Carpet

Other Highlights were:

Langmaid's Yellow Underwing

Eyed-hawk Moth 

The photos are also of some of my favourites.

But probably the best moth of the year was Antigastra catalaunalis, a rare migrant and my record was the second record for Wales.

Some have commented that this year has been a poor one mothing-wise. I haven't noticed this, in fact for me numbers are up on last year. I've also noticed it's been a great year for certain species, namely Large Wainscot and Dusky Lemon Sallow.

Big thank to Peter who has, as always, been very helpful throughout the year. And also to both Peter and Mike for their continued hard work with the moth group!