Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Essex Skipper confirmed in Montgomeryshire

2017 saw an extremely rare - though, in this case, not unexpected - event in Montgomeryshire: a new county butterfly record. Essex Skipper has been spreading rapidly in recent decades and has become common over much of southern England and Wales. It is rather similar to the Small Skipper so has possibly been overlooked to some extent.

It's definitely worth checking your Small Skippers in 2018, especially in the east of the county. There are some useful pictures for separating the two species under the 'similar species' section on UK Butterflies. If possible, please take photos to have any potential sightings confirmed.

Essex Skipper. Peter & Sue Young. July 2017, Welshpool.

Monday, 15 January 2018

2018 event programme

We will begin the year with two events held at private residences - this should give us the option of some shelter and warming beverages in the (unlikely!) event of poor weather. On the 14th April, we are visiting Simon Spencer's smallholding, hoping to catch Broom-tip (a nationally scarce species that has been found at the site in the past). On the 28th April, Steve Attwood-Wright is hosting us at his private nature reserve in the south-east of the county. This is a particularly under-recorded area and the site has had no moth trapping in the past, so who knows what will turn up...

We will hold an event at Cors Dyfi reserve in the far west of the county on the 2nd June. Later in the month, for Moth Night 2018, we will be trapping on limestone grassland at Llanymynech Rocks (16th June). The site has produced a number of exciting records over the years including:
This Netted Pug was caught at Llanymynech last year (GO).

On the 14th July, we will hope to entice amorous male Welsh Clearwings at Lake Vyrnwy (a joint event with the RSPB). This rare day-flying species has not been seen in the county for several years (though it is thought to experience population cycles lasting several years so this may not be a cause for concern). Fingers crossed! Even if we're unsuccessful in luring the clearwing, we will no doubt be able to find some other moths which may be on the wing (or feeding as larvae).
Welsh Clearwing at pheromone lures. Lake Vyrnwy, 2010 (MDH)

Wern Claypits nature reserve is another site that has not had any previous trapping - a fact we'll be rectifying on the 4th August. The site is designed to recreate the habitat of an abandoned canal. We'll be targetting specialist moths associated with wetland habitats. Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust (MWT) will be joining us and will be aiming to record some interesting bats foraging over the water.

We'll end the year by visiting two MWT reserves: Coed Y Dinas (1st September) and Deri Woods (22nd September). The latter is a joint event with the MWT and we will be targetting the autumn sallow moths.

Please consult the programme, which can be found in the events section of the website, for further information about each event.

Friday, 5 January 2018

A good steady mothing year at Commins Coch

During 2017 I maintained a good average for both macro and micro moths, although my butterfly count was slightly down on recent years.   

The highlight for me was a NCR of the micro species Cedestis gysseleniella – a species which hadn’t been recorded in North Wales before.

Cedestis gysseleniella
One of the more outstanding trapping periods was during December with massive numbers of Mottled Umber I recorded. A grand total of 835 were recorded during the month which peaked on 21st with 222 moths (counting was as manic as a good night's trapping in the summer). Although these massive numbers were during a milder spell of weather the curious thing was that I didn’t have overly large numbers of any other species (apart from slightly inflated Winter Moth numbers), I don’t really know what to put it down to.

My overall figures for the year were:-

Macro = 313 species recorded. This includes 3 new species for my site (details below); 18828 moths.

Small Argent & Sable; 1 recorded on 20th June. 
Orange Footman; four recorded between 27th May to 15th June. 
Beautiful Brocade; 1 recorded on 21st June.

Micro = 140 species recorded. This includes 8 new species for my site (details below); one of which is a NCR; 2324 moths. 

Phyllonorycter harrisella - 1 on 22nd May  
Cedestis gysseleniella - 1 on 2nd August  - New county record
Ypsolopha sequella – 1 on 28th August 
Teleiodes vulgella – I on 23rd July                                 
Cochylis nana – 1 on 26th May 
Eana osseana – 1 on 25th July                                   
Acleris caledoniana – 16 between 28th August and 2nd October  
Schreckensteinia festaliella – 1 on 30th March

Butterflies = 16 species recorded. 717 butterflies (no new species).

Hopefully, 2018 will be a good season for us all, which as usual I'm very much looking forwards to.

Peter.                                                      

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Mothing at Derwenlas 2017- a year best forgotten.

Mothing at Derwenlas 2017 - a year best forgotten..
2017 showed all the signs of being a good mothing year despite failing dismally in Peters’ January challenge. My overwintering Herald moths were found in the attic at the cottage again otherwise January was very lean.

As I have mentioned previously my moth recording is split between our home in Denbighshire and our cottage at Derwenlas and as the season progressed so the numbers increased with Derwenlas having a slightly greater number and variety of species. One highlight of this year was to be our 6 week trip to the Outer Hebrides again in May/June. With my Skinner trap duly packed we set off for the islands of North and South Uist. The first overnight stop was at Onich on the shores of Loch Linnhe and that evening our walk down to the shoreline took us through a wildflower meadow absolutely full of Grass Rivulets and at the hotel was a honeysuckle hedge covered in “Twenty-plume” moths- at least twenty! Once settled on South Uist I set up my trap near the machair behind the cottage but on the third day of the holiday I managed to completely rupture my Achilles tendon whilst playing with the dog at the edge of the sea.

Moth trap on South Uist machair
The end of mothing
The result was my right leg non-weight bearing in plaster for 3 months followed by more months in an orthopaedic boot. Whilst crutches were undoubtedly essential I soon discovered you have no hands to carry anything. Needless to say this changed our plans considerably not least my ability to empty a moth trap. My wife Mary discovered new talents putting moths in plastic pots not to mention chauffeuring our Land-Rover home to North Wales. Among the more interesting moths we caught were Shears, Sharks and Knot Grass. We then moved to North Uist where the terrain was very different- moorland with rocky outcrops- quite unsuitable for a one-legged moth-er.

Once home at our bungalow I finally tried running my trap again in the Autumn but we spent very little time at Derwenlas as the bedroom and bathroom are up 2 flights of very steep stairs. As I write this I am feeling very optimistic for 2018 and have already planned trips with the moth trap to Dumfries, Cornwall and Somerset. I am driving and walking but have yet to venture far “off-piste” and smooth tarmac is not a great habitat for moth traps. I hope to spend far more time at Derwenlas cottage this coming year and even attend a few MMG meets. One final challenge for the coming Autumn- has anyone tried a portable Heath trap onboard a narrow boat?? Watch this space.

And to my fellow Montgomery moth-ers

All the best for a great 2018

Alan

Butterfly Conservation North Wales - Facebook group

BC North Wales have a group which may be worth joining if you use Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/277847912412601/