This was another joint event with Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, and the last MMG event of the year. It was advertised as a family-friendly evening out, and as it started earlier than usual, and the evening was much milder than of late, this may have encouraged families to come along. Whatever the reasons, it was wonderful to see at least 33 people enjoying the evening, including ten youngsters.
Tammy entertained a large group, quizzing them on their bat knowledge, and then demonstrating the bat detector’s ability to pick up the high frequency calls used by bats, which are normally inaudible to humans. During the evening she located pipistrelles, soprano pipistrelles, and later Daubenton’s bats over the water, much to the delight of her audience.
Peter and his ‘team’ set up 6 traps, with the ‘white sheet’ at base-camp, and 3 Heath actinics and 2 MV Skinner traps around the path which encircles the newly-planted orchard on the reserve. The target moths were the autumn migrants, and the resident Large Wainscot which can be found in reedy ditches at this time of year.
|The hut made a perfect 'base camp'|
After what felt like weeks of clear skies and very low temperatures for the time of year, we were blessed with good cloud-cover and a positively balmy 12.5 degrees C as the traps were switched on at 7.15pm. It wasn’t long before a Pink-barred Sallow was brought in, ‘a little corker’ as Peter exclaimed in his best Yorkshire accent. Certainly this delighted the junior moth-ers, who were soon arming themselves with collecting pots, and rushing off to check the traps. As the evening went on, it was great to see their enthusiasm and interest, as they brought back a variety of specimens for ID, or listened to Peter’s fascinating introductory talk on all things ‘mothy’.
Lunar Underwing proved to be one of the commoner moths of the evening, but others included Common Marbled and Red-green Carpets, Red-line Quaker, Beaded Chestnut, Mottled Umber and the very well-named Satellite. The children in particular enjoyed the attractive colours of the Brimstone and Green-brindled Crescent, and the unlikely names of the Setaceous Hebrew Character and Brick, although they found the name Snout very appropriate.
It was good to see another three species of Sallow – the Barred Sallow, Sallow, and by far the best species of the evening, a Dusky-lemon Sallow, which is a scarce and very local species, only recorded in the east of the county in recent times. By the time we packed away the traps we’d reached a very respectable 19 species of macro, including a last minute Brown-spot Pinion, and a 20th in the form of a Scalloped Hazel larva spotted by Gavin. Combined with 5 Acleris species and several Epinotia nisella, we reached the grand total of 26 moth species. For a full species list please click here.
But it wasn’t only the moths which put on a performance during the evening – Tammy picked up a ‘non-bat’ frequency/sound on her bat detector, which turned out to be Speckled Bush Cricket. A wonderful green female adorned the outside of our timber base-camp, complete with impressive sabre-like ovipositor, and posed obligingly for photos.
By the time we prepared to leave the site at 11.15 pm, the temperature was still a pleasant 10.5 degrees – and although we hadn’t seen a Large Wainscot, and in fact had only trapped one migrant, A Silver Y, there was still time for one more first for a MMG moth event – a pair of ‘Large Coppers’ (to quote Mel) eager to see what we were up to!
Peter heralded the whole evening a success, and even a ‘comedy moth night’, but our thanks must go to him, not only for all the hard work in organizing these events each year, but also for the support he gives so freely, and the enthusiasm which tonight inspired not only the ‘regulars’ but also a band of youngsters for whom this might well prove to be the start of a lifelong interest – let’s hope so.