Saturday, 14 January 2017

My Highlights of 2016

For me at least, 2016 ended up being rather good for moths even though for much of the year it didn't look as though it would turn out that way.  Well in excess of 900 different species were seen, all of them within VC24 Bucks, and I've chosen ten particular highlights below.  Some of them might seem odd choices but, having produced 16,600 records for the county during the year (many more times that number of individual moths), it was quite difficult to decide which to include and which to leave out!

Netted Pug, Hughenden Valley 26th May
Lunar Hornet Moth workings, Westcott
4th May

The first significant find for me was some Lunar Hornet Moth workings in the trunks of sallows which had been felled along the disused railway cutting adjacent to the old airfield here at Westcott.  This is the closest I've managed to get to this species so far - one day perhaps I'll get to see an adult!  Netted Pug has to be one of the smartest of moths and is up there next to Mocha in my list of favourite Bucks species.  Its rare appearances at light traps are definitely something to turn a good session into a great one - I only wish it would turn up more often.

Fox Moths, Stoke Common 6th June
Tawny Shears, College Lake 22nd June

Fox Moth is a very uncommon species in Bucks and to get a pair of females to the same trap at Stoke Common on 6th June was unprecedented for me, especially as two weeks previously I'd been lucky enough to catch another female in Bernwood Forest.  In contrast, Tawny Shears isn't a particularly rare British species but these days in Bucks it is exceedingly difficult to find, so this example caught at College Lake on 22nd June was particularly nice to see.  It was in fact the first occasion that I've ever had the moth to one of my own traps in the county.

Forester, Charndon 28th June
The day-flying priority species Forester exists in Bucks in a number of very small discrete colonies but the discovery of a new location for it happens very rarely, so on 28th June it was very nice indeed to find the species surviving in the corner of some wild-flower meadows at Charndon, some distance north of any other site in the county. 

Triangle, Bernwood Forest 9th July

In our area the rather diminutive Triangle, a Red Data Book macro-moth, seems confined these days to Bernwood Forest although it was once a little more widespread in the county.  It is understood to spend much of its time high up in the tree canopy, making it a very difficult species to see.  The rather windy conditions experienced when trapping in the forest on 9th July may have been the reason why two examples came down to light traps that night.

Sorhagenia rhamniella, Westcott 20th July

It is always pleasing when efforts at providing food-plant in the garden for certain species finally bear fruit!  Alder Buckthorn has been grown here at Westcott for the last six or seven years, originally aimed at helping the Brimstone butterfly, but the appearance of Sorhagenia rhamniella a couple of times in 2016 suggests that it is now being used by other species too.

Dark Spectacle & Spectacle,
Westcott 29th July
Palpita vitrealis, Westcott 3rd September

Quite a few migrant moths were seen during the course of the year, mostly here in the garden.  The beautiful Palpita vitrealis was a first-time visitor to Westcott, unlike Dark Spectacle and for that matter Convolvulus Hawk-moth which I've chosen to leave out, which have both made previous appearances in the garden - not that they were any the less welcome!

The final species was seen during a Bucks Invertebrate Group search for leaf-mines in Bernwood Forest on 15th October.  The active larval case of Coleophora potentillae (below) was found on the underside of a bramble leaf, just a matter of a few hundred metres from where E.G.R.Waters discovered the first for Bucks way back in 1928.  Since then there has been only one other record for the county! 

Coleophora potentillae, Bernwood Forest 15th October

If anyone else has the inclination to present a few notes on some of their own highlights from 2016 during this very quiet period for moths, please feel free!

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

1 comment:

  1. A PLEA.
    Before sharing your highlights for Bucks moths I'd be grateful if you could send your 2016 records to me.


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