Friday 15 February 2013

2013 events programme

Hello Everyone,

Just a quick note to let you all know that this years programme of events has now been uploaded into the events area of the web site. Once again we've got a good range of events throughout the county, so please come along and support us, whenever you can.


Monday 11 February 2013

Becoming an 'author' on the blog

Just a quick reminder from me; we are welcoming new users to post on the blog - we're always interested to hear of moth-ing stories, trap reports, interesting records, photos and anything else moth/wildlife related!

If you would like to post on the blog, the process is very straightforward, please get in touch with me via email here: Douglas Boyes

Thursday 7 February 2013

Falling into the 'moth trap'!

As a new ‘moth-er’ Peter thought I might be happy to relate the story of my introduction to mothing last autumn. It was certainly a little unusual and unexpected!

It all started when Sue Bosson suggested I might like to join her and the Montgomeryshire Moth Group on 6th October for their last meeting of 2012, at Pont Llogel. I had been to a couple of meetings over the years, but had never trapped myself, although the idea was one I’d always hoped to follow up one day, once retired!

The evening was by no means warm, but the assembled group seemed oblivious to the cold, and set up four Skinner traps alongside the river, and a white sheet. Chris painted what I was told was his own unique treacle recipe on several trees, and I was invited to check trees and traps at regular intervals. It was good to be with such an enthusiastic bunch, ranging from teenager (the very accomplished moth-er Douglas) to those of more mature years like myself, and although I was a complete beginner, I was made to feel very much a part of the group. There was not one moth that I recognised initially, but by the end of the evening I felt reasonably confident with three moths which I’d found incredibly beautiful – Canary-shouldered Thorn, Green-brindled Crescent and the amazing Merveille du Jour.

All thoughts of being cold were soon overtaken by the sense of anticipation each time we went to check for more moths. On our return to base, where Peter had his identification table, I was helped to recognise the diagnostic features of each species, and it seemed that each time I returned, Peter had come up with a suggestion. The conversation started something like this:
Peter – “Where do you live? We could do with somebody recording moths in your area”.

Me – “Oh Peter, much as I’m enjoying this evening, I’m a complete beginner, and wouldn’t know where to start”.

Off I went to check the traps again. On my return I was greeted with:
Peter – “I’ve some good news. Chris has 3 moth traps and would sell you one for £10. The only thing would be, they don’t have any electrics with them”

I didn’t like to admit that neither my husband, Steve, nor I, would be much good at sorting out the relevant electrics, and again made noises about being insufficiently knowledgeable to start recording. Then off to re-check trees and traps.
On arrival back at base:

Peter – “ It gets better – we have a trap that we might be able to loan you. How would that be?”
I thanked him and agreed that this might give me the chance of a trial run, and that if I didn’t take to mothing, I could just return the trap. Then it was off again to check for more moths.

Over a very welcome and unexpected cup of coffee and a slice of Sue’s scrumptious banana and chocolate cake, Peter made another announcement:

“Do you know, things just get better and better all the time. Peter (Bent) has recently bought the updated version of the Field Guide to Moths of Great Britain and Ireland, and is happy to give his old copy to you”.
Events seemed to be overtaking me, but this was a very generous offer, and I thanked Peter, explaining that I’d be happy to buy it from him. He was staying (and mothing) at Morben Isaf, but would post it to me on his return home, and would prefer that I made a donation to charity rather than pay him for it.

By this time we were all feeling quite chilly, and although I’d been thrilled to see what I thought was a good number of moths, apparently this was fewer than we could have expected had the weather been warmer.
But I drove home feeling very fortunate to have met such a kind, knowledgeable, helpful and generous crowd and also to have been inspired to consider ‘trapping’ myself.

So that was Sunday morning an e-mail had arrived from Peter W, with a “further fantastic offer”!
He’d received an e-mail from Chris, who was selling a trap on behalf of a friend of his, and wondered whether I might be interested. What clinched it for me was that it came WITH electrics! So I took Peter’s advice (“I would bite his hand off if I were you”) and contacted Chris. He replied almost immediately, and even insisted on delivering the trap personally- “It would be an excuse to drive out for the day, as I can have a look at some habitat that I might want to trap on next year.”

So in less than 24 hours I had had the good fortune to be awaiting a Robinson trap, and the moth id book, and it had all been arranged for me!
Two days later, Chris and the trap arrived, and he explained how the previous owner, George Higgs, now 88 but mothing since the age of 11, was too unwell to use it any more. I felt very privileged that perhaps I would be able to give the trap a new lease of life, and vowed to put it to good use that very evening.

With beginner’s luck, and fair weather, I managed to trap 7 macro moths and a micro moth on my first night, including the wonderful Merveille du Jour and Green-brindled Crescent I’d marvelled at a few days earlier– and as I didn’t yet have the book I used the excellent MMG website to help with id. I then spent hours researching them all, and wondering how people can possibly cope with a summer evening’s catch! I took some very mediocre photos of them, which I sent to Peter, along with my ideas as to what they might be. He of course replied almost immediately, and was very encouraging, as he has been ever since. There’s still so much to learn, from recognising different species to learning correct terminology to taking/editing decent photos, but Peter’s endless patience and guidance make it so much more than just catching moths!
I wrote a letter to thank George, and to let him know how much the trap and my new hobby meant to me. I didn’t give my address as I didn’t want him to feel a need to reply, but it appears he asked Chris for our phone number, and within a few days we were chatting on the phone. What a delightful man he was, and so modest about his achievements and knowledge. I wish we’d been able to talk again, as we agreed to do, but he only lived for a few more weeks, and despite never having met him, I felt a real sense of loss.  On the positive side though, his trap lives on, and has much to teach me.

My few weeks of mothing in 2012 introduced me to twenty-five species of macro moth – none of them rare, but with wonderful names and markings, and all previously unknown to me. Until then I had no idea that we had such an array of night-time visitors to our garden – and these are the quiet months in moth terms! I now look forward to what 2013 brings, knowing that there will be many more surprises and delights, as well as plenty of e-mails to Peter asking for confirmation and helpful tips.
For anyone viewing the MMG website, and wondering about coming along to a mothing event, I can thoroughly recommend it, but be prepared to become ‘hooked’ –the enthusiasm of the group is most certainly infectious!!

'10 Macro species for January Challenge'

Click on chart to zoom in.

Hello Everyone,

Here are the results of the '10 Macro species challenge for January 2013'.

As you can see, the chart above shows that eight recorders took part in this years challenge (one more than last year). Only one recorder actually reached the target of ten species (myself), but two others fell tantalisingly short (Douglas and Sue) with nine species each. In fact it was the second year running that Douglas had reached nine species, but to be fair, this year he was concentrating on school exams, but I expect he's still a little peeved with falling just short. Individual recorders were recording from between one and twenty four days in the month.

Overall, an excellent 20 species and 677 moths were recorded; this compares 17 species and 293 moths in 2012. The list contained only one migrant species, the Silver Y, which was recorded by two people. By far the most numerous species was the Winter Moth, which was probably to be expected, surprisingly though, it was only caught by three recorders. Six recorders trapped the Pale Brindled Beauty, making it the species caught by the most recorders.

Compared to last year, this is how the top five species by number of moths recorded, stack up. As you can see, the Winter Moth tops the list for both years:-

Winter Moth                 229
Mottled Umber             157
Mottled Grey                147
Pale Brindled Beauty      61
Early Moth                    16

Winter Moth                131
Mottled Grey                 59
Mottled Umber              24
Chestnut                       20
Spring Usher                 13

Many thanks to all of those who took part in the 'challenge' which, as well as being fun to do, it also gives us extra data for those winter flying species which we wouldn't have were it not for extra trapping done in the 'challenge'. I look forward to doing this challenge again next year.


Saturday 2 February 2013

State of Britain's Larger Moths 2013

"The results are unequivocal: insect biodiversity is declining rapidly and, in many cases, it is specialist species that are being lost, while a relatively small number of generalist species come to dominate once-diverse wildlife communities."

This is an extract from the latest report on how our macro moths are faring. The report certainly makes an interesting read (and at times a rather scary read), with two-thirds of our commonest garden species in decline. Topping the declines list is the V-moth (-99% over 40 years), a garden species which is uncommon in the county (I've recorded it just once in 2011).

The report highlights the importance of continued recording across the country, especially with traps run regularly in the same location; allowing more widespread trends to be calculated in the future. The report ends with a section on moth conservation; while the 'specialist habitat' conservation projects are important, I feel that the best course of action is to encourage people to manage their land with wildlife in mind, on a much more widespread scale.

The report is available here as a PDF.