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


  1. Your first full year of trapping has certainly very productive with several 'county firsts' but the cherry on the cake was definately establishing that the Rosy Marsh Moth was present at your site.

    I feel that Cors Dyfi still has many more species yet to be discovered, so keep up the good work in 2012 Maria. Well done.


  2. Great report Maria, makes very good reading.