Sunday, 9 March 2014


Took further advantage of this mild (and for this month, only fully free) weekend and did my monthly survey at Bagley Woods. Lots of Oak Beauties, Small Brindled Beauties and Yellow-horned, but still only small numbers of Orthosias. The best of the lot was a pair of Pale Pinions, which are likely to be my first records for the site, and possibly (i'll have to check) my earliest ever record of Oak Nycteoline, which was of the nice spotted form which I'm not entirely sure I've caught myself before. Went looking for Orange Underwings afterwards during the glorious sunny weather around midday but no luck - anyone else seen any yet? No recent records from Bagley so would be good to go back and have another look when they're being seen elsewhere. Plenty of butterflies about, never seen so many spring Brimstones and Commas! Marc Botham, Bagley Woods

Oak Nycteoline - Bagley Woods


  1. Hi Marc, no sign of Light Orange Underwing yet at Kingswood, Bucks today (that's the more common species around here), but I did find at least three Orange Underwings patrolling birches at a wood further north near Tingewick, one of which was netted to confirm.

  2. Thanks Dave, I suspected Orange UW might be on wing as a colleague (not an entomologist) thought they'd seen something resembling a Large Skipper flying in a ride in Little Wittenham woods. I had planned to go and look for them there as well to confirm what I suspected he'd actually seen, but I wanted to watch the rugby and had spent considerably longer in Bagley than expected. I'll hopefully try next weekend if the weather allows me to. I was surprised not to see any at Bagley, there's plenty of Birch throughout, but not much of it is very mature. That said, a certain part of the wood reminds me of Speyside, heathy with small birches everywhere and that habitat would be teaming with OUW's in Speyside, so I hadn't thought they required the birch to be mature? Perhaps it just isn't there, but I'd be pretty surprised. I did encounter one moth flying in among some pines, about size of an OUW but no orange, all brown and didn't fly like one. Unfortunately I couldn't keep up with it as it was rather muddy underfoot and it was in the distance so I'll never know what it was - perhaps a disturbed Engrailed or something. Another plea: have you got any spare female emperors you could push my way for surveys in Oxon this year, I had a bit of a disaster last year with a virus wiping all but one of my stock and just after I had released what I considered to be surplus. That said survivor has also fared badly along with many of my overwintering larvae and pupae due to the wild and mild weather which destroyed my outdoor overwintering facilities and also made things wet and mouldy.

  3. The wood I visited today has mostly young to middle-aged birch (but lots of it) so I don't think old trees can be all that important to the moth. I might try the birchy areas of Bernwood tomorrow, but the difficulty there is the amount of aspen around too, so netting is a must to determine the species. Very time consuming with my poor netting skills!

    I'll have a look through my Emperors. I haven't got all that many this year and I've already picked out half a dozen female cocoons for Lawrence at Ashridge, but I should be able to manage a few.

    Bagley Wood was on the news a few nights ago - I thought that might have put you off going there, especially at night...

    1. It might if I'd seen the news - what happened?

  4. Just found it - not good and has definitely changed my likelihood of trapping there under certain circumstances.


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