Tuesday 25 August 2015

MMG Glaslyn Event - A real 'Dickens' of a night

Well, we kind of knew in advance that the weather was going to be indifferent at best for this event, and pretty awful at the worst, so we were quite prepared for almost anything, but, the tempest which hit us shortly after dusk was very challenging indeed – however, despite all this, we actually had quite a good evening.

A wet and windy base camp
Alan and I arrived on-site just after 7:00 pm, the rain had been forecast to arrive by about 10:00pm, so we thought we would be well set up by then and that we could just sit it out. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the way things panned out as, when we arrived, it started to rain fairly steadily and the next hour or so was spent getting the traps out and setting up base camp under the gazebo; we were certainly a bit soggy by the time we had done everything! Soon after this the rain subsided and Douglas turned up with some further traps. Shortly before 9:00 pm the lights were switched on and we looked forward to a good evening’s trapping.

No, this isn't the lake - it's the flooded car park!

The Ingrailed Clay and Antler Moth made their presence known almost immediately, these were the most abundant species throughout the evening. These were shortly followed by the attractive Twin-spot Carpet a species found mostly in upland/moorland areas. As moorland events aren’t done very often we had in fact listed five species as our ‘target species’, and, we did quite well as we managed to record three out of the five – these were the macro species of Neglected Rustic (a species which I hadn’t seen before), the Heath Rustic, and the micro species of Acleris caledoniana.

Neglected Rustic

Only one migrant species was recorded - a solitary Silver Y.

Rather surprisingly, we also manage to trap a new county record, this was a real bonus - Celypha rivulana is nationally a local micro species found in various habitats. In all 24 species were recorded, 18 macro and 6 micro - For a full species list please click here.

Twin-spot Carpet

Around 10:00pm the heavens really opened up, but this time the driving rain (at 45 degrees) was accompanied by some strong winds, and, out on the exposed moorland there’s absolutly nowhere to hide, so, we had to lower the gazebo down, and for about an hour while this storm persisted we all hung onto the gazebo for fear of it blowing away! Meurig was checking a trap when the rain started, I can see him now returning through the heather to base camp – this conjured up an instant impression for me as he resembled the bedraggled and drenched convict, Abel Magwitch (from Great Expectations), labouring across the moor – certainly a sight for sore eyes, this definately lighened the moment.

Dark Arches
 By about 11:00pm the rain once again subsided and we had a dry spell to check all the traps; this yielded a True Lover’s Knot, Northern Spinach, Chevron, Anomalous and a Map-winged swift, but moth activity had slowed down by now and shortly before midnight we decided to call it a day and pack up. This time, however, we did time it perfectly as we managed to get all the kit  away just in time for the rain to have a final say, but, it really didn’t matter now, as we were all heading home – the moor and its mothy ‘Great Expectations’, vacated till another episode!                  


Wednesday 19 August 2015

Cors Dyfi

On Monday night I headed to Cors Dyfi reserve in the far west of the county, home to the Dyfi Osprey project. I was doing a moth and caterpillar walk at the reserve the following day so I thought it would be nice to have some locally caught moths to show. It was a very still but clear night, which meant cold temperatures. Peter (who I was staying with) joined me for much of the night.

I took 4 MVs and 3 actinics traps, which were run in the car park and along the boardwalk. Despite the cool temperatures, plenty of moths were flying (even in the reedbeds where it was colder still). The actinics were catching a surprising number of the weak-flying geometrids - which were mainly Oblique Carpet, Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet, Devon Carpet and Cheveron.

There were a few wetland species that occur in very few sites in the county, including Chilo phragmitella, Small Rufous and Crescent. Some of the western species included Marbled White Spot, Large Ear and Golden-rod Pug.

It's currently the peak season of Rosy Marsh Moth. Despite extensive trapping over the years, only one has been caught on the reserve in recent years - given the cold conditions I wasn't really expecting it to turn up. At about, 10pm, however one showed up around the car park trap, and another one was seen soon after on the boardwalk. The moth has not been confirmed breeding on the site so these individuals may be wanderers from the nearby large population at Cors Fochno (around 5 miles away in Ceredigion). I feel it's more likely, however, that the moth breeds on the reserve at a low density, perhaps forming a sink population (that is a population that is part of a metapopulation that cannot sustain itself without some immigration from a source populations, in this case Cors Fochno.)

The second highlight of the night was a single Webb's Wainscot - a new species for Montgomeryshire. It was a good night for wainscots with plenty of Bulrush, Southern and Smoky about the site. Webb's is not a species I'd come across before but it must have been somewhere in my mind, as it was my initial thought and I remember asking Peter if Webb's was on the county list. A look with the book confirmed my suspicion and a check of the websites showed it seemed to be moving up the welsh coast.

A grand total of 92 species were recorded, which is pretty exceptional given the cold conditions; about five of these were new to the reserve.

Had it not been for the need to catch some moths to show people the next day, I probably wouldn't have bothered trapping the reserve on such a cool night, however the new county record, Webb's Wainscot, as well as the third and fourth records of Rosy Marsh Moth meant it was very worthwhile indeed.

Follow the link below for all my pics (all taken on my iPhone so apologies for quality). There's also a full species list:

Cors Dyfi - 17/08/15

MMG mothing event at Lake Glaslyn on Saturday 22nd August

Hello Moth-ers,

Our next mothing event is this Saturday (22nd August) at Lake Glaslyn Nature Reserve. This is an upland site in which heather is the predominant plant species and we are targeting several moorland species (which are listed below), some of which are very rarely recorded, so don’t miss this opportunity to possibly see a few of these. 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, who knows what might turn up!

Full event details are:-

Venue: Lake Glaslyn Nature Reserve
Event Date: Saturday 22nd August
Target Species: Northern Rustic, Neglected Rustic, Heath Rustic, Small Autumnal Moth, Striped Twin-spot Carpet and Acleris caledoniana.
Event Time: 7:30 onwards, at the reserve car park.
Directions: 2 miles west of Dylife, on minor Staylittle to Machynlleth road.
Grid Reference: SN830942.

All the best,


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.

Friday 14 August 2015

Hafren Forest: good moths, shooting stars and a bawling hedgehog

119 sp recorded at Hafren Forest, with 71 of these being new to 10km square. Site is typical upland broadleaved scrub habitat with lots of coniferous forest nearby. The best moths included Barred Carpet, Dotted Carpet, Triple-spotted Pug, Larch Pug, Anomalous, Monochroa cytisella, Zeiraphera ratzeburgiana, Catoptria margaritella and Spilonota laricana (new county record).

Having worked my way round most of the least well recorded 10km squares in VC47, SN88 (where Hafren Forest is located) was one of the few left which has had very little summer trapping, with just over 100 species recorded in total in the square prior to my visit. For the trapping I found a nice spot along the road with plenty of broadleaved trees, breaking up the vast areas of conifer plantation. Clear skies meant a fairly cool temperature - dropping to 7c - but at least it was a still night (though that did allow the midges to be seriously annoying).

A good selection of species were caught including all the usual western stuff. The best moth was a single Barred Carpet. Also interesting was a Dotted Carpet. The best micros were a pair of Spilonota laricana. The first county record. A species which is rather difficult to ID, and therefore has probably been overlooked in the county previously.

That night was also the peak of the perseid meteor shower. Way up in the hills, there is no light pollution (except for my traps!) so there were some seriously spectacular fireballs. Despite being so rural, I wasn't the only one watching the shooting stars. On such a still night sound travels extremely well and every time a particularly bright meteor shot overhead I could hear a distant chorus of 'oos' and 'ahs' from a group of stargazers - who had climbed atop the other side of the valley (about half a mile away).

Packed up and left the site around 4am. Not long after leaving site I ran over a hedgehog (dont' fear - it went between the wheels). This happens surprisingly often - they just seem to aimlessly sit in the middle of road, invariably just after a blind bend. Stopped to usher it to safety only to find it was making an astonishing racket - just like a young baby crying at full volume. Presumably a distress call. (youtube 'Hedgehog crying' and you'll see what I mean!). Once it realised there was no threat, it unrolled itself and toddled off into the hedge.

For a few pictures from the night, plus the full species list, follow the link below.
Hafren Forest 12/08

Tuesday 11 August 2015

Moth humour

At the weekend just after we arrived at our caravan at Bala we found a dead Brown House-moth in the bathroom.  A bit later while relaxing in the lounge with a glass of vino, another Brown House-moth buzzed past us.  Without a moment's thought, my wife Ann said that I should try to pot it and take it to the dead moth in the bathroom in order to try a bit of
"moth-to-moth resuscitation"

Brown House-moth (Hofmannophila pseudospretella)

Monday 10 August 2015

What a lovely thought.

I have just recieved a very nice handmade thankyou card from two people (Debbie and Gabrielle) who attended the recent CAT event and I thought you all might like to see it and the note inside it.

A beautiful handmade card
With a lovely note inside

Thank you so much Debbie and Gabrielle for this - a few kind words always go a long way.


Friday 7 August 2015

Mothing Event at CAT, 01-08-15

During Saturday we had many heavy, prolonged showers, which, the met office had said would dissipate by late afternoon, and as it turned out, this is exactly what happened – everything pointed towards a dry and fairly mild event with the potential for a good species list.

Unloading the kit from the landrover on the lower trapping level
 Douglas, Peter, Alan and myself arrived onsite by 7:15 pm to set up the kit. The first thing we had to do was to transfer Douglas’ kit into my landrover because to access the trapping site we had to get the kit up a very steep, rough track, no place for an ordinary car. The trapping site was above the old quarry, it was basically on two levels therefore we were all going to get plenty of exercise checking the traps during the event. On this occasion we were using ten traps so the trapping area was very well covered with the traps available. With the kit all set up, as we waited for dusk to arrive, we all dived into our tuck bags to fuel us up for the evening’s proceedings.

One of the Skinner traps
View of the quarry from the trapping site

The pool above the quarry
A view showing the scree covered hillsides

No sooner had the lights been switched on when the first moth arrived at the table – and what a moth it was, it was the ‘nationally scarce A species’ Barred Carpet. We couldn’t believe our luck, but that was only the start of it – by the end of the evening our disbelief grew and our heads shook more each time as we saw at least ten individuals. It was an astounding haul of this scarce species. And seeing so many at each visit to the traps we feel there was, in all likelihood, many more. Indeed, on one visit to a trap someone exclaimed ‘Oh what’s this one?’, so, Douglas replied ‘Oh it’s just another Barred Carpet’!

The 'Nationally scarce A species' Barred Carpet

During the evening we were kept very busy with exactly 100 species being recorded. The more notable macros were : - Satin Beauty, Satin Lutestring, a lovely Scalloped Shell, Northern Spinach, Yellow Shell, Beautiful Snout, Dot Moth, Minor-shoulder Knot, the uncommonly seen Bordered White, and finally, a stunning and very uncommon Beech-green Carpet.

Scallop Shell
Beech-green Carpet

Notable micro species were: - Epinotia brunnichana, Eudonia ancipitella, Argyresthia laevigatella and Coleophora flavipennella and the rather lovely looking species of Scoparia pyralella and Catoptria pinella. 

Celypha striana
Argyresthia brockeella

No migrant species were recorded at this event. Full species list can be seen here.

Later in the evening Douglas took out some home made cake – he said that due to the recent dearth of good mothing conditions at home he had plenty of time on his hands and therefore he’d been trying his arm at baking, and I must say, we all enjoyed the three cakes he brought along – as they were all were devoured in no time – ok Douglas, no need for a baking CV, you’ve got the job for future events!

By about 1:45 we decided we had all had enough so we started to pack away the traps systematically checking them and one at a time, it was about 3:00am when the last trap was shut down. It had been a long, but very fruitful event – the recording of all those Barred Carpets will certainly stay with me for a long time –  even now, I’m still shacking my head!