Sunday 8 January 2012

Another 'out of season' species

As the mild winter continues, unusual early records are continuing to turn up.

I recorded this V Pug last night. This moth is totally out of season the previous earliest record for the whole of north Wales is 21st March.

We've already had quite a few 'out of season' species recorded this winter, these include Pale Brindled Beauty, Dark Arches, Clouded Drab and Spring Usher, I wonder what will turn up next?

It's always worth having a trap on mild winter nights, as the records above prove, go on, give it a try!!


Sunday 1 January 2012

Mothing at Y Felin 2011

Y Felin is a 7 acre smallholding that has little changed since the 1940's. Today, and since our arrival 20 years ago, it is managed as a conservation smallholding on which we seek to protect the rich diversity of the unimproved meadows and hedgerows whilst encouraging the further increase of biodiversity.
By virtue of their mainly nocturnal flight times moths had, until a few years ago, been an under recorded aspect of the ecology of Y Felin. However, as with creating a pond which attracted many new species, acquiring a moth trap has revealed a great many previously unrecorded but already resident species.
Collecting a nights catch is always an exciting moment......and somewhat daunting too in the summer months with so many specimens to be identified. A task that is made so much easier now we have the excellent Monty Moths web site and its listings of the monthly likelies. The catch is always viewed with wonder and excitement by both adults and children alike who may be staying in our caravan or camping in the meadow. And it affords a good opportunity to talk about wildlife in general and the need to protect the habitats that are so essential to its survival.
The highlights of this years mothing have been watching the emergence of an Elephant Hawk Moth from a chrysalis unearthed during the winter and similarly the emergence of a Ruby Tiger from a cocoon found under an old corrugated iron sheet. From the trap the most notable record was the catch, in mid December, of a Clouded Drab a whole 6 weeks earlier than the previous earliest record for the County. But despite all the beauties of the moth world my favourite moths of Y Felin are our colony of Chimney Sweepers; dainty little black moths that emerge every year to flutter, in the sunshine, amongst the grasses and flowers of the meadows.

Another good year at Commins Coch

Hello All,

2011 has been another very good year at my home site of Commins Coch, in the west of the county. In all, I’ve recorded 321 species of macro moth and 155 species of micro moth. The macro number includes 4 new species for my site this year, taking my all time total to 393, that 400 mark is within striking distance now!

My first new species of the year was a Glaucous Shears in late April. This proved to be quite an interesting as it was recorded in no fewer than six sites from around the county during 2011; it was last recorded in the county in 1977. This was followed by a Little Emerald (Photo - right) in mid May; this species hadn’t been seen in the county since 1993. My next new species was a rather tatty Haworth’s Pug in late June, this was somewhat surprising as it is usually associated with limestone or chalk – there’s not much of that where I live! Finally, the last new species to turn up in August was also rather surprising; it was a much worn Ashworth’s Rustic ( photo – below) although recorded sparsely on the western side of the county this 'Nationally Scarce A' species was indeed quite a find.

As regards micro moths I recorded 9 new species for my site of which 4 were also new county records, Lesser Wax Moth Achroia grisella, Hymenia recurvalis, Prochoreutis myllerana and Lobesia reliquana. The Hymenia recurvalis was a particularly good record as it is a rare migrant to these shores; it was recorded during the autumn in an intense period of migrant activity.

Well, that about sums up, my mothing year and all in all it was a very good year indeed. The highlight of the year was probably not a moth, but the expectation of recording a good migrant species during the mild autumn weather and I wasn’t let down. Like the fantastic Small Marbled (pictured right) and I think it will be a long time before the four Vestals I recorded in a single night will be topped in my trap again, fond memories indeed.

I look to 2012 with much eagerness.

Happy New Year to you all.