The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

No Rest for the Moth-ers

It's been quite a while since my last update, and although I've built up a nice little backlog of photos, in truth there's not a great deal to talk about.  The lean months of summer (for birds particularly) will hopefully end soon enough.
A couple of weeks ago I helped with a moth trapping session at Alner's Gorse, and although the final list was impressive, the only Tick I managed was this one.  In hindsight we were all very lucky, as we walked around in the long grass in shorts!


It's all been about the moths really otherwise, as I helped to empty the traps at the Bird Observatory for a week (getting up at 5 each day). I'm extremely grateful to everyone there for letting me have the opportunity.  A selection of the best species.

Wormwood Shark

Plain Pug

L-album Wainscot

Crocidosema plebejana

The Shark


Eudonia lineola

Evergestis extimalis

Epermenia aequidentellus


Marbled Green - A strange form

Southern Wainscot
Cydia amplana
Webb's Wainscot
Dog's Tooth
Pearly Underwing

Plus, a couple of well camouflaged micros...

Epiblema scutulana

Digitivalva puilcariae

A few more interesting things from the trap, such as the UKs largest Cranefly, Tipula maxima.

And two different species of huge Lacewing.


On one morning, I was joined by a Common Shrew out in the open while I emptied a trap. It was no coincidence that it was hunting in the area I had released the moths the previous day!

On one of the nights we had a bit of a disaster when a rain-guard fell onto the bulb, surrounding it with the molten plastic (makes you realise how hot they run).  The bulb still worked, and anything hitting it then got stuck fast. Modern art perhaps?


At Ferrybridge on another day, I was able to find an example of the scarce Wormwood-feeder Eucosma pupillana, with little problem.

Ichneumon Wasps are frequent visitors to moth traps, but it was fascinating watching this guy at work, searching a Knapweed for caterpillars to parasitize.  It was very interested in this rolled leaf, which no doubt contained a caterpillar, or be it one far too small for this impressive beast. Nonetheless, how did it know to look there?

I have finally managed to get out to do a little bit of birding in the last few days, with little reward.  It was great watching a seabird feeding-frenzy off the West Cliffs today though, that included a Balearic Shearwater and a Great Skua.  Always nice of course to see Melodious Warbler in-hand last week too, though I so nearly missed it!
A Cornish seawatch in order for the weekend?

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