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


  1. What an excellent session you had - the new county record of Spilonota laricana is especially pleasing as we have felt for some time now that species is a resident in the county, but we have been unable to prove this for certain, so well done Douglas for finally confirming its presence.

    After finding the Barred Carpet recently at CAT, it is aslo very good to see it recorded in another area of the county. The Dotted Carpet is also another very good record.

    I'm very pleased to here that the hedgehog you encountered scurried off into the undergrowth - a touching end to the evening's events.


  2. What a night Douglas! On looking in my book for Spilonota laricana, I found I'd annotated the picture with 'still debating whether it's in Mont or not', which was what you told us on the MFS training. So it's great to know that you've now confirmed it - and I'll add that to the annotation! Well done!