Wednesday, 5 October 2016

A surprise species from our Llanymynech Rocks event

Our last event of the year was at Llanymynech Rocks Nature Reserve. The wet weather which had preceded it, right up to Saturday morning, suggested that we might all be in for a drenching; however, by the time we all met up at the reserve car park the rain had gone and, apart from it being a bit on the chilly side, conditions looked very favourable indeed.

The area we were concentrating on for trapping was along the path beneath the cliffs, in a linear setup, and by 7:00pm as dusk was falling the traps were all fired up. Things were a little on the slow side in the beginning, but once the first species, an Angle Shades was potted, species started to come to the table fairly regularly for the rest of the evening and these included, the Shuttle-shaped Dart, Autumnal Rustic and Garden Carpet.

Llanymynech Rocks is an area which was once quarried for its limestone, and 100yds or so down the path from where we had set up base camp is an iron cut-out of two men quarrying the stone, the light from one of the traps was illuminating these figures and as I looked down from base camp onto the figures, I asked others with me, who were those people looking into the trap, ‘they’ve been there for ages’ I said. Douglas enlightened me - a very humorous moment giving all a good laugh at my expense, I was truly caught out!

About half way through the evening a moth was potted which was confirmed as a Feathered Ranunculus, a species which had only been recorded in the county on one other occasion, at Cors Dyfi Nature Reserve in the far west of the county. This was an excellent record and very much unexpected. Douglas and I decided to take a walk up to the trap it was recorded from, when, as we arrived, another Feathered Ranunculus in a very timely way turned up; and later in the evening yet another was recorded from the adjacent trap. One could have just been a ‘wanderer’, but three certainly suggest a breeding population at the site, a very exciting prospect.

Feathered Ranunculus
Several other macro species recorded were new to the site, these were - Canary-shouldered Thorn, Black Rustic, Grey Shoulder-knot, Blair's Shoulder-knot, Merveille du Jour, Beaded Chestnut, Lunar Underwing and Barred Sallow. For a full species list please click here.

The theme of this particular event was ‘migrant species’ and we were indeed fortunate to trap two; a Dark Sword-grass and a Silver Y, the latter of which was another new site record.

Dark Sword-grass
Micro species were very thin on the ground, probably because of the cooler conditions, but we did manage to record two species; a Zelleria hepariella and an Acleris sparsana, both of which were new for the site. To see all the photos taken at the event, please click here, then once the file has been accessed click on each individual photo.

Shortly after 11:15pm we decided to call it a day and what a superb evening it had been – who would have thought that we would find a Feathered Ranunculus at this site, let alone a small breeding population, which just goes to show that there is still species and populations out there which remain undiscovered - but the MMG is on the case! What an excellent end of the season it was for us all.

I must once again thank all those who brought along their traps and to those who helped to set up and pack away the kit; also for Sue and Jeny for supplying the cakes (always very welcome). Finally a big thank you to everyone who attended the events throughout season as, for me, this is what makes it all so worthwhile. I look forward to seeing you all again next year and please keep an eye out for the 2017 events which will be posted on the events area of the website during the winter months.


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