Sunday 27 January 2013

'10 macro species for January' challenge

Hopefully this latest cold spell we've just had is on its way out now and we should all have a chance to record some more species during the last few days of the month and reach our target, in our '10 macro species for January' challenge. So come on everyone, switch those traps on and see how well you can do. I'll be asking everyone for their results early in February.


Thursday 17 January 2013

A blaze of metallic iridescence

My first and, so far, only moth species of 2013 does not qualify for Peters 'January 10 Species Challenge'. Apparently it is too small (wingspan = 12mm).

The moth emerged from the fireside woodpile in a blaze of metallic iridescence some 4 months earlier than it's normal flight season. 

Fire on the forewing

Perhaps it just wanted to see the snow?

0649 Esperia sulphurella

Monday 14 January 2013

Mothing in Middletown: 2012

Just a very quick round up of 2012 from me; last year was very busy for me and I spent several weeks in summer abroad so therefore my general totals for the year were down. Over the year I still managed to add over 130 species to the garden list, including 28 which were also new for VC47. Being on the eastern side of the county, the weather has not been too bad in relation to elsewhere (although being the wettest year on record for the garden, still about half the volume of rainfall than the west of the county received). This means 2012 was actually quite a good year for me; although overall individuals of the common species seem to be down, I've seen no obvious drop in the species diversity being caught (although this is rather hard to judge due to all the variables).

Anyway, let us hope 2013 brings plenty of hot weather and some southeasterly winds!


Sunday 13 January 2013

National Moth Recorders’ Meeting and Moth Night 2013

Click to enlarge
The new E-moth newsletter contains information about the upcoming National Moth Recorders' Meeting at the Birmingham and Midland Institute on Saturday 26th January 2013. The program is shown, left. It's a great day, having been the last two years, well worth going. There is a £5 cost per person to cover venue hire, lunch, etc. To attend you must book in advance, do so by contacting:                     '' or telephone '01929 40020'.

The newsletter also announced the dates of Moth Night 2013 (
Thursday 8th – Saturday 10th August) and the theme next year is 'Tiger Moths'

View the newsletter with full details on both events here.

Tuesday 8 January 2013

Mothing at Derwenlas 2012 - a modest year.

2012 will surely be remembered for some outstanding achievements and a plethora of gold, silver and bronze Olympic medals and awards. I recall my year also starting with an award, a virtual wooden spoon for Peters' January challenge when I managed 0 moths at Derwenlas. Things could only get better from then on which indeed they did. But first to recap briefly- whenever possible I run 2 Skinner Actinic traps, one at Derwenlas and the other at our home in Bodelwyddan, N Wales depending on my whereabouts.

Out of my 794 records for this year some 534 were at Derwenlas and my "total species caught" has risen to 335, an increase of 58 many of which are micros.

The more varied habitat at Derwenlas continues to attract a greater number and wider variety of species but I still have a few species only recorded at Bodelwyddan.

The Juniper Webber moth was found again this year but in lower numbers than 2011 despite my planting a fresh ornamental Juniper in the rockery bed to supplement their habitat. And the colony of Meal Moths that inhabited my compost bin in 2011 seem to have deserted me this year. But the Feathered Ranunculus was again caught this Autumn.

Meanwhile at Derwenlas despite some atrocious "Summer" weather a nice variety of moths was recorded the more notable including a Brussels Lace, Wormwood Pug, Ling Pug and Clouded Magpie. My family of Fox Moths I raised and released in 2011 obviously had no homing instincts whatsoever and avoided my trap this year.

My two most outstanding moth memories of 2012 happened to occur neither at Derwenlas or Bodelwyddan. We were fortunate to have a 6 week holiday in the Outer Hebrides enjoying summer drought conditions while the rest of the UK drowned. Amongst the wildlife spectacles of Sea Eagles, Golden Eagles, Stilts, Otters and many more we were walking on the Isle of Lewis in the heather moorland and I came across at least 50 Magpie Moths resting on the heather in full sunshine. To quote Waring & Townsend "In the Hebrides large numbers fly up from roosting in heathers."
And finally whilst travelling from Derwenlas to N Wales on one occasion in November we stopped at Rhug Estates near Corwen. While exercising the dog in the car park I came across a floodlit sign board and in full daylight resting on the adjacent low wall were at least 20 moths including December Moths, Sprawler,Green Brindled Crescent, Mottled and Scarce Umber and Redline Quaker. A real unexpected bonus.

And so it remains to wish my fellow "mothers" a warmer drier Summer season and some record catches. But so far January looks as though I might be awarding myself the virtual wooden spoon again!

All the best


Monday 7 January 2013

It never rains.....

In line with other Montgomeryshire trappers, 2012 at Cors Dyfi has proven to be somewhat disappointing with regard to moth numbers.

The year started promisingly, high temperatures meant moth numbers in February and the start of March were very, very good. Then, practically overnight, temperatures plummeted, moths vanished and when it did finally start to warm up it also suddenly got an awful lot wetter.

As some of you know, almost constant rain throughout May and June which included the ‘superstorm’ event of June 8th/9th which was centred directly over Cors Dyfi and the surrounding area, resulted in the death of 2 of our 3 osprey chicks, the 3rd only pulling through due to intervention by a few brave souls. The site was inaccessible for 4 days and it took another 4 for the flooding to subside to levels where the whole boardwalk was again above water.
 Where did the boardwalk go?
(Photo: Alan Davies)

The rains eased only a little, but enough for me to decide at the end of July to do a 3 nights-in-a-row session which proved one thing, if it stayed dry the moths came out – see here for the full report on this.

I had set out at the beginning of 2012 with the aim of doing a minimum of 2 nights trapping every month throughout the year. Road closures and further possibilities of flooding soon put paid to this,  though every month, except December, was covered.

It is very difficult to pull out any highlights over such a disheartening season but I did thoroughly enjoy my 3 night session even if it did exhaust me – Garden Tiger moths may be relatively common in Montgomeryshire but to see so many in one night and in so many differing patterns was one of those events where you can only stand and watch and marvel at the beauty of nature.

The season ended with a grand total of 457 different species – 309 macros and 148 micros – and when you consider the season started with a total of 387 and throw in the appaling weather, a total of 70 new species for the site over 2012 can’t be grumbled at too much.

The new year brings many new possibilities, the site is being developed and I am looking forward to being able to set up my trap further down the reserve and in areas previously inaccessible. Who knows what new locations may bring.....