The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Six-belters! - Part 2

Hope you enjoy my 100th blog post!

On the 19th, I popped into the Obs in order to wonder at the amazing selection of rare moths caught overnight. 

Now, I realise there is something rather unsatisfying about seeing moths by coming across a table full of pots, as apposed to emptying the trap yourself (something I hope to rectify shortly!), but in the absence of that opportunity I had to make do with this,  and it was still fantastic to see such species.

Top of the bill of course was the first UK mainland record of Southern Grass Emerald, looking most like the equally-rare (from a Portland perspective) Small Grass Emerald.  Belter no. 3.

In the looks stakes, there's no doubt this Dark Crimson Underwing took the prize. The fourth belter.

Also among the lifers were one of for Splendid Brocade...

...and the rare saltmarsh inhabitant, Pediasia aridella.

Not a lifer, but only my second Chevron, was also present.

Straight after work, I headed back up to Surrey for the rest of the weekend.  I took a quick look at Tice's Meadow on my arrival, and it was looking fabulous for waders with a nice muddy edge.

Indeed, on this tiny spit in front of the mound was 2 Dunlin, 5 Little Ringed Plover, and 4 Common Sandpiper. The place is going to have an awesome autumn!

Come the evening, I headed for a large garden near Guildford, that happens to be the workplace of an old mate of mine from College, Matt ( ), along with another College friend, Steve, for a spot of mothing.

Conditions were excellent, with warm muggy conditions.  Even so, we had an unbelievable evening for moths, with a total of over 170 species!  Not to mention the calling Tawny Owl and Common Sandpiper, plus the great insect sightings of a Cockroach (probably Dusky), Giant Lacewing, and a Weevil with the biggest snout I've ever seen! 

The weather certainly helped, but, with not only a wide range of native and non-native plants within the garden, but with ancient mixed woodland, heathland, and a reed-fringed pond all close-by, the location is a fabulous one.

The only macro lifer for me was a Silky Wainscot, but this is a pretty scarce moth in Surrey. It's special for being one of the only species in which it's larvae has a omnivorous lifestyle, quite happy to eat other caterpillars as well as chew Reed leaves! The 5th belter.

The other top macros were a White-line Dart...

...and a Maple Pug, ID'd after the event.

The list of micros was also impressive, with the great (Scoparia basistrigalis and Lesser Wax Moth)...

...and the small (Bucculatrix ulmella and Phyllonorycter platanoidella) represented.

Shame my camera can't do these little gems justice!

Plus, there were the medium-sized of course!  Pammene aurita is a recent colonist to the UK...

...whereas Anacampsis blattariella is widespread.


Mompha propinquella feeds on Rosebay Willowherb...

...and we got at least two Agonopterix alstromeriana, even though we didn't know of any of it's foodplant, Hemlock, around.

We were also unsure of the presence of Poplar in the area, but there must be some as we got a Figure-of-eighty, as well as the rare, and the subtly stunning...well, I won't tell you, as I'm sure you can read the photo!  The last of the six belters!

What an enjoyable session.  That's despite the fact I sustained at least 14 Mosquito bites, and poor old Steve got stung by a Hornet!

 This was followed by the main reason I came back to Farnborough for the weekend, the Air Show.

Mother nature was clearly not happy about me turning my bins to those big unnatural metal beasts of the sky, so had only my third ever Purple Emperor fly through my line of sight, before flying about amongst the gathered crowd!  I wasn't totally sure which way to look, but as I'd seen the plane in view at the time (the Avro Vulcan) three times before, the butterfly was the rarer sighting!  My first decent view of an Emperor for 17 years!

Don't worry you ornithophiles, I'll get back onto the birds shortly hopefully! Autumn is approaching!

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