Saturday 28 June 2014

July Belle or Lead Belle ?

July Belle (left)  &  Lead Belle (right)

When I ran my trap at Bala on the night of 24th June I was pleased to find two Scotopteryx species the following morning, which at first glance looked the same.  Being mid-June I couldn't differentiate between them on the basis of flight season alone, since the Lead Belle was just ending and the July Belle just beginning.  Fortunately Peter W was paying me a visit that day, and helped explain how to identify them.

July Belle (left)  &  Lead Belle (right)

The July Belle's black central spot on the forewing is usually smaller and dot-like and is normally nearer the second cross-line than the third, whereas the Lead Belle's central spot is usually tear-shaped and roughly midway between the second and third cross-lines.  Additionally, the zigzag outermost cross-line is often more well-defined on the Lead Belle than on the July Belle.

This is not a definitive guide, and if in doubt submit a photo for verification, or if that way inclined retain the specimen and arrange for genitalia examination.

Friday 27 June 2014

Coed Pendugwm trapping

A couple of nights ago I took a trip to MWT's Coed Pendugwm reserve in the north of the county. The site has never had any trapping done so I had no idea what to expect. Having recce'd the site earlier in the year, I suspected there could be one or two good species lurking there. It's woodland site - lots of humongous oaks and beeches as well as a good spread of other broadleaved trees.

The temperature didn't drop below 11c so the six traps I took along were pretty busy. Recorded exactly 130 species - at one point I was writing down the species so furiously my pen disintegrated! As well as the moths, the whole site seemed to be very alive; there was constant rustling and twigs breaking in the thick vegetation all around me. It's a good job I'm not scared of the dark!

Some of the better macros included several Clouded Magpie, several Scallop Shell, lots of Brussels Lace, quite a few Beautiful Carpet, Satin Beauty, Lilac Beauty, Clay Triple Lines, Northern Spinach, Beautiful Snout and Pinion-streaked Snout.

The real highlight of the night was the discovery of a colony of Waved Carpet. This is really quite a scarce species and is known from very few sites in north Wales. Seven were seen across the traps, indicating the species breeds on site.

Micros. Two species associated with beech were recorded: Cydia fagiglandana and Strophedra weirana. Both new county records.

Some other new county records were Argyresthia sorbiella, Pseudatemelia josephinae, Epinotia nanana and a couple of Coleophora glaucicolella. Pictures here:
Coed Pendugwm - 25/06/14

The MMG will be running a public event at the site in September.

Thursday 26 June 2014

Lake Vyrnwy trapping

I headed off to a forestry track just north of Lake Vyrnwy the other night for some trapping. Had stumbled across the track this winter and thought the habitat looked very interesting. The site has three main aspects: (1) broadleaved scrub surrounding a small stream (made up mainly of birch, also willow, rowan, etc), (2) heather and bilberry surrounding the track and (3) spruce plantation either side of the valley.

The midges were pretty bad; very glad to have my full-body midge suit with me. This worked pretty well though did have it's problems: reduced visibility meant at times I had chose between being bitten or not seeing the moths! And at one point a Poplar Hawk-moth managed to get itself caught inside the hood! The night was fairly cool to begin with but as it clouded over, the temperature steadily rose throughout the night. Of course this meant the midges were worst at the point I was going through and pack up the traps at around 2:30am.

A total of 105 species were recorded. Plenty of upland species: Grey Mountain Carpet, Beautiful Snout, True Lover's Knot, Scarce Silver Y, Welsh Wave, Narrow-winged Pug, Smoky Wave, Northern Spinach, Glaucous Shears, Aphelia viburnana, Apotomis sauciana and Neofaculta ericetella.

Several species associated with conifers were seen. Lots of Larch Pug, Barred Red and Tawny-barred Angle. Also, Coleophora laricella (2nd county record), Epinotia tedella and Argyresthia laevigatella (new CR).

Other notable moths were Plain Wave, Epinotia tetraquetrana (2nd county record), Carpatolechia proximella (new county record), Monopis weaverella and Swammerdamia caesiella (new CR).

Follow link below for some photos of the site and the moths caught:
Lake Vyrnwy - 24/06/14

Tuesday 24 June 2014

Glaslyn: moorland moths

Took a trip up to MWT's Glaslyn reserve the other night. Arrived about half an hour before sunset to find large numbers of moths flying low around the heather. Much to my surprise, almost every moth I netted turned out to be a different species to the last and in just a few minutes I'd built a pretty good list. Peter joined me just as I was setting up the traps and kept me company for the first half of the night.

Trapping site

The night was very calm but due to clear skies, fairly cool. Recorded 37 species in total which is pretty good for a moorland site. There were plenty of the expected species such as True Lover's Knot, Grey Mountain Carpet, Narrow-winged Pug, Dark Brocade, Ancylis myrtillana, Neofaculta ericetella, Aphelia viburnana and Bryotropha politella.

However some of the most interesting observations of the night were species which one would not usually associated with the habitat. This included many species that utilise tree species. This included Larch Pug, Bordered White, Peppered Moth, Pebble Prominent and Pseudargyrotoza conwagana (two of these were recorded). Presumably these are wanderers; just goes to show how far moths move about.

True Lover's Knot and Grey Mountain Carpet

Will return on a warm, muggy night (if such a thing exists on mooland!) next month.

Saturday 21 June 2014

Dolforwyn Woods

Last night I headed to Dolforwyn Woods for a spot of trapping. Ran traps from 9pm to about 3am. A fairly cool night so only had 57 species but it did include one or two crackers.

Had brought a few MVs and a few actinic traps. When it was time to switch lights on, one of the MVs just wouldn't work - despite having tested it before I left. I had brought along a range of screwdrivers, fuses, etc so was able to have a good fiddle around with all the connections and alike. But no luck. This morning I discovered the issue was the bulb. Both the bulb (that was working just a few hours earlier) and the spare I had brought along were broken!! What are the chances. Will have to take two spares along in future...

Anyway, the best records were:
- Clouded Magpie (40+ seen across the traps)
- Blomer's Rivulet (15 seen in total)
- Satin Lutestring
- Satin Beauty
- Brussels Lace
- Clay Triple-lines
- Pammene albuginana (a new county record)

Here are a few photos. (the macros were all taken with my phone on the night.)

Pammene albuginana

Blomer's Rivulet

A cloud of Clouded Magpies

Brussels Lace

Satin Beauty

Thursday 5 June 2014

Deteils about the forthcoming mothing event at Trafel Gwyn in the south of the county

Hello Moth-ers,

This Saturday, 07-06-14 the MMG (Montgomeryshire Moth Group) is holding a mothing event at Trafel Gwyn in the far south of the county. This upland site has never been trapped before and therefore every species we record will put a new dot on the map. Many southern areas of the county have had very little trapping done over the years, so the overall known distribution of species is very patchy indeed, so this particular event may well throw up a few good surprises. So please come along and join us for what I hope will be an excellent evening’s mothing.

Full event details are:-

Venue: Trafel Gwyn.
Target Species: Upland species.
Event Date: Saturday 7 June 2014.
Event time: 8:30 onwards, at the trapping site.
Directions: If approaching from the north (Llangurig), travel along the A470 from Llangurig roundabout for about 4 miles; you will pass the entrance to Bryn Titli wind-farm on your left; signal to turn right at this point, in case of following traffic. Immediately after the wind farm entrance, the road bends right, and immediately after the bend is a right turn signed 'Dernol'; take this turn. It is the only right turn on to a side-road between Llangurig and Rhayader.

If approaching from the south (Rhayader), travel along the A470 from Rhayader for about 5 miles until you get to a left turn signed 'Dernol' (at the moment it appears to say 'Jerno'); take this turn. It is the only left turn on to a side-road between Rhayader and Llangurig.

Once on the lane to Dernol, go down the steep hill, over the River Wye, and continue on the same lane (ignore the left turn just after crossing the Wye bridge). Just under a mile after turning off the A470 you will see an old chapel in front of you; take the 'no through road' up the left-hand side of the old chapel. A 100yds or so up this lane you cross a cattle grid, and shortly after this is a wooden bungalow, 'Glandernol', on the right - tea and coffee will be available here if anyone wants a drink after the event (park on the land next to the river by the cattle grid). The site we will be trapping on is just before the end of this lane (you may have to go through several gates), where it crosses the small river, about 1½ miles from the old chapel turn-off. There is some parking on the sides of the lane, and firm standing with parking space in front of a shed to the left of the lane. We will be able to use this shed for shelter while inspecting the catch, unless there is an unforeseen sheep-related urgent need for the farmer to use it. This site is very popular with midges, though they are unlikely to be much of a problem this early in the summer; it's probably best to be prepared.                                                                                                                                                                      Grid Reference: SN895758.

Montgomeryshire Moth Group (MMG) is an independent voluntary group of people interested in moths. All ages are welcome to attend events whether experts or beginners.

This year all the events are light trapping events. We set up the light traps at dusk to attract moths and then release them after identification.

As with all our evening events, please bring a torch and wear suitable outdoor clothing.

You are welcome to join us for as much of the evening that suits you, we are likely to stay for several hours. However, in case of cancellation, due to poor weather or unforeseen circumstances, always ring or e-mail to check the event is on before joining us.

Please note that some sites are not easy to find, so please make sure you know where the venue is before you set off.


Tuesday 3 June 2014

How to deal with the nightmare of birds getting in the trap!

The problem started a couple of weeks ago, when a bird (presumably a tit) found its way into my trap, totally decimating the catch. Over the following nights I tried to trap on the off chance that it was a one off event, but the bird (or birds) hit the trap again. I had two opportunities open to me - either turn the trap off before I went to bed or get up at the crack of dawn and cover the trap, but as I trap every night, the second option wasn't really going to work long term, so I decided to turn it off before I went to bed. This of course reduced my catch considerably. I did this for about a week then tried to leave it on all night again, hoping the bird had gone, but the same thing happened and the bird attacked the catch. So I needed to come up with a more permanent solution to resolve this issue. So what I’ve done is to reduce the size of the apertures in the top of my Robinson trap with a piece of plywood (see photo below) so that the smallest tit won’t be able to get in. I did this about a week ago ago and so far it’s been successful with keeping the bird out. 
Since then I've also been able to assess whether this reduction in the entrance holes has reduced my catch of larger species and it doesn't seem to have done so, as I've had four species of Hawk-moths, a Puss Moth, a Fox Moth and various other large moths, so it seems that the trap alterations, up till now, have been totally successful.

You can see the ply-wood inner collar to keep the birds out