Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Cors Dyfi Nature Reserve - 3rd Aug 19 - Coming up roses!

Well, where to begin.... The forecast for once was looking extremely favourable and there was a crowd of 26 people eagerly anticipating some moth action even before the traps were switched on. Though before they'd arrived a July Highflyer had already been found on the visitor centre wall.

Common Rustic agg. feeding on Molinia - Gavin Chambers

With Tom's help from the Cors Dyfi Osprey project we had traps up and running from about 9.30pm, with 7 traps and a white sheet. Peter gave a short talk about the moths and then we were all set free to hunt out the moths. It wasn't long before moths started to be potted and ID'd with Small Rufous, Smoky Wainscot and the first rosy of the night in the form of a Rosy Rustic. Along the boardwalk it was interesting to note numerous moths, including the Bordered Beauty, seemingly feeding/nectaring on molinia seed heads which must have just bloomed, as much as grass does!

Scarce Silver-lines - Gavin Chambers

More colourful moths then appeared with Orange Swift, Ruby Tiger and the intricately marked Antler Moth wowing the crowd of 'mothers'. As often is the case, the white sheet was a great spectacle (we caught one of these too) for the public with a great variety posing nicely, such as the striking Black Arches, stunning green Scarce Silver-lines (bigger than I'd imagined!) and mezmerising Gold Spots.

Webb's Wainscot - Greg Osborn
It was extremely useful having numerous footmen on site, despite just lingering around the moth traps. We ended up with a few types; Common, Scarce, Dingy, Buff and the superb Rosy Footman (the second and probably best looking rosy of the night). With the reedbed on site it was no surprise to catch numerous Wainscots. The stand out of these was a subtly but destinctly marked Webb's Wainscot which is only the 2nd county record after one caught at Cors Dyfi in 2015.

There were plenty of micro moths around, including the large Patania ruralis (Mother of Pearl) and gold spangled Argyresthia goedartella. However, there were also plenty of tiny apparently non-descript species which were quickly put in front of the experts, it was a great relief to see Douglas turn up to keep us right! One of only a couple of migrant species was the small Plutella xylostella (Diamond-back Moth) which was dwarfed by the other common migrant of the Silver Y.

Rosy Marsh Moth - Ben Porter (https://benporterwildlife.co.uk)
We got to midnight with most people having left for home, but the moths were going strong with 100's now swarming around traps. Clouds of Large Yellow Underwing made it trickier to pick out something different but a quick look through some of the egg boxes revealed one of the specialities for the reserve, the rarest rosy of the night and perhaps most sort after amongst most of the nights 'mothers', the Rosy Marsh Moth. A Red Data Book species restricted to only a handful of sites in the UK, with larvae feeding on bog myrtle. They are so rare that even the police had to drop by to check them out, at least that's our story...

A heavy rain show around 1am had us sheltering for a short time before starting to pack up around 1.30am. As always more species were discovered as we emptied the traps such as both the Copper Underwing and Svensson's Copper Underwing, Miller and Tawny Speckled Pug along with the more unusual Dotted Carpet, Clouded Magpie and Small Argent and Sable. There was also a couple of hitch-hikings with a Cloaked Minor (arguably the moth of the night 😉) on my head and a Slender Brindle on Mel's shirt. Surprisingly the elephant in the room was missed by all white sheet onlookers all night, as an Elephant Hawk-moth larvae was found munching on willowherb below the sheet not long before packing up, the adult having been found earlier in the night.

Elephant Hawk-moth Larvae (left) and Adult (right) - Mel Jones

In total we finished with a mammoth 114 macro species and 58 micros totalling the highest ever catch during a moth event and we still managed to leave at 2am! For a full list of species please click here.

Thank you to everyone for coming along and to Tom for being on site to keep us under control on what turned out to be a great night for moths. Thanks also to the photographers for making it hard for me to pick which ones to use, they were all great. Fingers crossed the weather is turning in our favour for moth events this year and we get a warm, dry day for the next event at Wern Claypits, a daytime event (more details here).

Friday, 2 August 2019

Butterflies to look-out for - plus two exotic records

Thought I'd share some info on a couple of native species to be on the look-out for, plus some news of some exotic sightings...

Essex Skipper
Since being added to the county list in 2017, this species is now established in the north-eastern corner of the county. Multiple records now from the Welshpool and Llanymynech areas (and one from near Newtown). This butterfly will spread further into the county so do please check those Small Skippers! Check out the 'Similar species' section on the UK butterflies website for some excellent ID pointers here.

Marbled White (Oxfordshire)
Marbled White
Recorded on a BMS transect at Roundton Hill in mid-July this year: only the second county record (and first since 1999). Seen during a period of very hot weather, this probably represents a dispersing individual. Marbled White probably isn't breeding in the county yet, but is expanding its range and may well become established in the coming years.

Scarce Swallowtail
New county record from mid-June. Two reports from a plant nursery near Welshpool. This species is a very rare migrant to the UK and the individual seen is highly unlikely to have arrived of its own volition (probably imported as a pupa among plants grown in continental Europe).

Monarch
Two reports from Powis Castle gardens last week (3rd and 4th county records). This species is a rare vagrant from across the Atlantic and these sightings undoubtedly represent the release of captively-bred individuals (possibly for a wedding). Pictures of one sighting here.