Friday 24 April 2015

Bramble research project - volunteer request

Posting a note here on behalf of Emma Coulthard:

During my PhD research, I investigated the visitation of macro-moths to Bramble plants in hedgerows across areas of UK farmland. Interestingly I found that Lepidoptera made up a high percentage of the visitors to this species nocturnally and that although the study was only small, the diversity of moths found visiting the Bramble flowers was relatively high when compared with the numbers of butterflies one might see out in the daytime. As a result I am proposing to carry out a study over the summer of 2015 which compares the visitors of Bramble both in the day-time and night-time. I need volunteers to help me carry out this research and would be grateful to anyone who would like to help

Biscuits and tea/coffee will be provided to anyone taking part, along with instructions and any necessary equipment. The project will run over the flowering period of bramble (June-September) Put simply the project involves visiting patches of bramble and recording the moths present (using a set methodology) For details and further information please contact Emma directly.

Tuesday 21 April 2015

New county record at Hafren Forest event.

Saturday was sunny and fairly warm, but there was a slight niggling cool breeze from the east, which took the ‘edge off’ the temperature; this reminded me, that it was still indeed only April.

We arrived on site by about 7:00pm to get set up, but the weather conditions didn’t exactly give us much hope that we were going to have anything more than a fairly ‘average evening’ as, by now, the temperature was dropping away due to the clear skies.

Skinner trap amongst the trees

We fired up the traps at around 8:30 and surprisingly, (in view of the conditions), moths began to arrive almost immediately - Engrailed, Water Carpet, Hebrew Character, Clouded Drab and Common Quaker, were quickly on the table, although, it has to be said, that they were all of the ‘usual suspects’ which you would hope to see at this time of year. Apart from the Water Carpet, all of the above species were seen in good numbers throughout the evening. After this initial influx, further species slowly came to the table -  Early Toothed-striped, Early Thorn and Red Chestnut were recorded in small numbers, as was the Pale Brindled Beauty, one of which, was a really nice specimen of the dark form.

Alan checking the white sheet

Micros were very thin on the ground, but we did manage two species. First in was an Eriocrania species, which none of us could identify for sure, but later Douglas confirmed that it was an Eriocrania sangii – a new county record; we also recorded a Diurnea fagella.

Eriocrania Sangii - a new county record

As the evening drew to a close we were treated to 3 superb specimens of Red Sword-grass, an interesting and unusual species which rests with its wings rolled around its body and when disturbed it pulls its legs in, only to look like a piece of dead wood rolling in your hand.

Red Sword-grass

Anomalous larva

Shortly after midnight we were all ‘suitably chilled’ and we decided to call it a day. As we were packing away one of the traps, we saw a small green caterpillar which was later confirmed as an Anomalous, and finally, as we were about to dismantle the white sheet, we saw the only migrant species of the event, a Dark Sword-grass – a very nice way to end the evening, and who would have thought we would have bagged a new county record, given the weather conditions; this just goes to show, you can never know what’s going to turn up….Oh yes!, and by the way, did I mention we have never recorded a Convolvulus Hawk-moth at an event before!!

For a full species list, please click here.


Thursday 16 April 2015

Roundton Hill NNR

Took a trip to Roundton MWT reserve last night. I arrived on site to find temperatures dropping into single figures and a sharp breeze. As I'm heading back to Oxford soon, I couldn't really afford to be picky with my nights. Expecting a species list barely into double figures I set up the six traps and waited for the sun to set.

Despite the cool conditions, plenty of moths were on the wing. Some of the nicest records were 11 White-marked, 9 Brindled Beauties, 2 Muslin Moth and a Chocolate-tip.

The night surpassed all expectations with a final species list of 31, half of these being new for the 10km square. Only slight disappointment was not getting Tawny Pinion at a site with such vast quantities of ash.

Photos and species list below:
Roundton 15/04/15

Wednesday 15 April 2015

MMG event at the Hafren Forest, Sat 18th April

Hello Everyone,

Our next mothing event is this Saturday (18th April) at the Hafren Forest. We are hoping to record various spring species, including, thorn and prominent species and Pine Beauty (our target species). If you’ve never been to one of these events before, treat yourself, please come along and join us, for a great night’s mothing.

Full event details are:-

Venue: Hafren Forest.
Target Species: Pine Beauty  
Event Date: Saturday 18 April 2015.
Event time: 7:30 onwards, at the reserve car park. (Please note that the meet time has been moved forwards by one hour from the original time).
Directions: Directions: from the A470 take the B4518 towards Staylittle, as you enter the village you will see a signpost on the right for the Hafren Forest, the car park is 4.7 miles along this road on the right hand side.
Grid Reference: SN856870.

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.


Saturday 11 April 2015

2014 Annual Report

Hello All,

Just a quick note to let you know that my 2014 MMG Annual Report can now be found in the Reports and Articles area of the website or please click this link.


Tuesday 7 April 2015

Catherton Common, Shropshire

Took an out of county trip last night to some heathland in south Shropshire. I was joining a group of trappers including Dave Grundy and Chris Williams. Despite clear skies, the temperature didn't drop below 7c, even at 4am when I left the site. Between 27 traps, we recorded around 30 species. The best being Northern Drab, Lead-coloured Drab, Red Sword-grass, White-marked, Brindled Beauty, Yellow-horned, Pine Beauty and Acleris hyemana.

The main reason for the trip was to catch Northern Drab (a species that's not been confirmed in Montgomeryshire). Northern Drab may be quite easy to overlook amongst the variation of Clouded Drab but is quite distinct when one's looking out for it. Unlike the Lead-coloured Drab which is limited by foodplant, the Northern Drab is limited by habitat. It is probably unlikely to turn up away from specialist sites. I think it's quite possible the Northern Drab is present somewhere in VC47. The other thing to note about the species is it's a late flyer; it only started coming to traps after about 12:30.

Some photos from the trip below:
Catherton Common

Sunday 5 April 2015

Llyn Mawr

Just back from a visit to Llyn Mawr, a very boggy (especially at this time of year!) MWT reserve up in the hills. Visiting upland sites outside of summer is always risky (I remember a MMG event at the same site in October 2010 when we nearly froze to death and only caught two moths). Llyn Mawr, a SSSI, had never been trapped in the spring before though so I thought it would be worthwhile to add a few dots to the maps.

Arrived at the site late afternoon. Beautifully sunny with temperatures well into the mid teens. Set up a variety of traps around the site as the sun set.

As soon as the sun was gone, temperatures began to plummet as predicted. A full moon competing with my traps for the moth's attention probably also lowered the catches. With few moths, I was glad of Peter's company who joined me for much of the night.

Mottled Grey - 20
Common Quaker - 4
Early Grey - 4
Red Chestnut - 5
Clouded Drab - 5
Hebrew Character - 3
Red Sword-grass - 1
Water Carpet - 1
Pale Brindled Beauty - 1
Agonopterix heracliana - 1

The site has excellent mobile phone reception so I was even able use the 3G data on my phone to set up a wifi hotspot for my laptop - don't you just love technology! Was even fast enough for video streaming: thought I'd check out ITV's CGI reboot of Thunderbirds to amuse myself for a few minutes - the puppets in the original series seemed more lifelike!

Some of the species: Toad, Mottled Grey and Red Sword-grass

As I was packing up, the thermometer read 1.5c, though it was probably colder at ground-level. Ice was forming on the traps and the sheets had frozen, become stiff. Although nothing too unexpected was caught, 9 new site records and a few them new to the 10km square too, so was certainly a worthwhile trip. Probably about as good as it's going to get at a site like Llyn Mawr at this time of year. The only recapture was Red Sword-grass which had been seen at there in autumn 1977, so it's nice to update that record - Red Sword-grass being a relatively uncommon species.

Arrived home to be find the temperature only a few degrees warmer. A similar number of species in the garden trap with the only moth of note being a Yellow-horned, the first of the year for the garden.

Friday 3 April 2015

The Hobbits of Pendugwm ‘Middle Moth’ Woods

Well, what an event this turned out to be! – They said we were going to get stormy weather, and to be fair, that’s exactly what we got. When we arrived on site at 6:00pm conditions weren’t too bad, it was a bit breezy, but that was ok, in fact, in all, conditions looked pretty good for the mothing, but then…….
View of path to the right of car park

We had just finished setting up the traps and white sheet as it was getting dark, so, we settled in for the evening. It wasn’t too long before moths were being brought to the table; in fact, we had ten species in the very first 30 minutes and only a few more within the next hour. Chestnut and Small Quaker were first potted and these were swiftly followed by Twin-spotted Quaker, Common Quaker, Hebrew Character, Brindled Pug, March Moth, Pale Brindled Beauty, Engrailed and the Satellite. The striking Oak Beauty (the star of the evening) and the remaining species were trapped soon afterwards.

No micro moths or migrant species were recorded at the event.

To see the full species list, please click here.

It all went downhill from thereon. After about an hour and a half or so the wind started to pick up and was gusting quite strongly, the white sheet was billowing out like a sail on a ship, and I could see the support poles breaking at any minute. Therefore, I had to make a quick decision as to whether we could re-site the sheet or needed to take it down completely. We did find a better site for the sheet, so things were temporally better, but then the wind got even stronger and the gazebo tried to ‘take off’, so now we all had to keep a hand on it’s legs to keep it grounded. Someone suggested ‘why don’t we retract the legs which would lower the gazebo, thus making it less susceptible the wind, this did work and was better for a while, in fact it was pointed out that as we were all stooping to be under the gazebo we all took on the guise of ‘Hobbits’ (see image), which was very amusing to all of us. Ultimately however, the weather, soon after, just got too severe for us all and we started to pack the kit away much earlier than we would normally.

Hobbits Peer out from under the lowered gazebo

Many thanks to those few brave souls that did turn up for the evening, but, it has to be said that, on this occasion the weather and perhaps the spirits of the wood certainly had the last laugh and between them, drove us away!