Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Fernham to make a return!

I have just gained permission to run lights on land to the south west of Fernham, in the hope of recording some of the rare migrants I used to catch in my parent's garden in the village between 1983-2006.

Fernham is located in the far south west of Oxfordshire (VC22 Berks), within the Vale of the White Horse, which runs south west to north east. The late Eric Classey's theory was that the valley acted as a giant funnel for migrating moths and Fernham must have been at the end of the funnel! This might explain why so many rarities were recorded in the village, yet my current location, just 6 miles west of Fernham, is virtually migrant free!

                      Eastern Bordered Straw (H. nubigera), Fernham, Oxon (VC22) on 17.v.2006

Some of the scarcer migrants/vagrants recorded at Fernham included:

1 x African Carnation Tortrix (Epichoristodes acerbella) = 2nd wild caught British specimen
1 x Diasemiopsis ramburialis
1 x Striped Hawk-moth (Hyles livornica)
1 x Bedstraw Hawk-moth (Hyles gallii)
3 x Cosmopolitan (Mythimna loreyi)
1 x Sword-grass (Xylena exsoleta)
1 x Eastern Bordered Straw (Heliothis nubigera) = 4th or 5th British Record
1 x Small Marbled (Eublemma parva)
2 x Purple Marbled (E. ostrina)
2 x Ni Moth (trichoplusia ni)
1 x Scar Bank Gem (Ctenoplusia limbirena) = 9th British Record
1 x Dark Crimson Underwing (Catocala sponsa)
1 x Clifden Nonpareil (Catocala fraxini)

There were also some impressive totals of more regular immigrants:

8 x Palpita vitrealis
146 x Vestal (Rhodometra sacraria)
14 x Gem (Orthonama obstipata)
31 x Convolvulus Hawk-moth (Agrius convolvuli)  incl. 1 x larva
51 x Humming-bird Hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum)
4 x White-point (Mythimna albipuncta)
5 x White-speck (M. unipuncta)
17 x Delicate (M. vitellina)
61 x Small Mottled Willow (Spodoptera exigua)
33 x Bordered Straw (Heliothis peltigera)
3 x Scarce Bordered Straw (Helicoverpa armigera)

Hopefully the warmer weather at the end of this week will trigger the first proper moth migration of the Autumn. I can't wait to get back there again!

Steve Nash - Highworth (just over the border in Wilts)


  1. Hmmm...my garden list is still missing Palpita vitrealis and White-speck from your 'common' list, let alone any of the rarer ones. Still, I live in hope, which is what makes this all so much fun!!

  2. Indeed Dave, you just never know.


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