Something Different: The Firs; Saturday, 13th August, 2022

I took the decision that, given the hot weather, lack of rain and the potential impact of that on the birds, to stop bird ringing until there was a break in the weather. However, my interests are not confined to birds, I love all wildlife and I thoroughly enjoy mothing.

I took up mothing in 2011. Started with a Skinner trap with a mercury-vapour light. Very quickly I got a bit fed up with the Skinner trap’s inability to retain specimens, so went the whole hog and bought a Robinson set up, which I have used ever since. Interestingly, at the same time I upgraded the trap, I purchased a dozen MV bulbs, assuming they would last like usual old-fashioned bulbs. So far I have used two of them!

Anyway, the point of this blog is the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s “Take Action for Insects” project being run by Michael New, Ecological Officer at the Trust. There were five of us in action: Michael, Colin, Paul, his daughter Stevie and me. We met up around 7:00 to be set up before dusk. There were four mothing stations set up.

I owe them all a debt of gratitude as, post-op, Michael was insistent that they would carry my kit to and from my selected mothing site. I had decided to set up at the bottom of the hill, close to the ponds on the central glade, so everything had to be carried down and then back up at the end. At least, with my 90m extension lead, the “portable” generator didn’t have to be carried all of the way down. My system was set up and switched on just before 8:00 and almost immediately started attracting insects. Next time I will be taking a face mask. Before any moths started appearing, a whole variety of different fly species arrived and I became enveloped in a swarm of the things. Next time I am taking a face mask and my jungle formula spray! I have no idea how many minute flies I inhaled and otherwise ingested but I probably had my protein ration for this week.

The first moths that I saw were some grass moths that were disturbed by my walking to get away from the light to leave the flies behind. I had remembered to take my bat detector with me and was very pleased to identify both Common and Soprano Pipistrelle hunting around my part of the woodland.

The first moth recorded for the night was by Paul & Stevie, with a Square-spot Rustic. I don’t know what the others caught that night but I had an extremely satisfactory session. However, unlike in my garden, the bulk of what I caught were micro-moths and, so, sorting them out has been a challenge. My list is:

I have highlighted Metalampra italica because it is a relatively recent addition to the British list, first recorded in 2003, but spreading quite rapidly. It was thought to be endemic to Italy, hence the specific name, but it is not known if it is a range expansion north-west through Europe or an accidental introduction. Unfortunately, it is the worst photograph I took! Thanks to Robin Griffiths for identifying it for me.

Anyway, here are a few photos from Saturday night, starting with some Micros:

Acleris cristana
Acleris emargana
Chequered Fruit-tree Tortrix
Strawberry Tortrix
Metalampra italica (with apologies)

Now a few Macros:

Maiden’s Blush
Dingy Footman
Flame Carpet
Copper Underwing
The underwing pattern indicates it is Copper Underwing not Svensson’s Copper Underwing
Common Wainscot

Once again, thank you to Michael and the team for helping me so mcuh on Saturday night. I started emptying the trap at 11:30 and, being the lightweight that I am, was away from site by quarter past midnight, leaving the others to continue their session.

It will be back to birds tomorrow – CES 11 at Lower Moor Farm.

%d bloggers like this: