YOUR RECORDS REALLY ARE IMPORTANT!
Those of you who have been recording moths for some time will know already how to submit details of your sightings to your County Moth Recorder. This page is aimed at newcomers to mothing who may not be aware of how things are done.
The importance of your records is explained on Butterfly Conservation's "Moths Count" website here. The data you provide to your CMR will be passed on to the National Moth Recording Scheme and is vital for our conservation efforts.
WHERE AM I?
Most of you will be recording almost exclusively from the garden of your home so the first and most important thing is to work out an accurate National Grid grid reference for it. There are several ways to do this but perhaps the easiest is to click on this link to the very handy "Grab-a-grid-ref" web-site run by the Bedfordshire Natural History Society. In the blue "Go to" box on the right hand side of the web page, first select "Postcode" then type your post-code into the box and click on "Go". That should take the maps to your general location and you can then drag the marker on the aerial map to the actual position of your house. The 100 metre grid reference for it will appear in green at top right (eg SP715171). Make a note of this grid reference.
WHICH COUNTY AM I IN?
Having worked out where your house is you now need to work out which county you are in - something which may not be quite as obvious as you think. For consistency, most organisations involved in biological recording use what is called the Watsonian vice-county system, which is basically the county boundaries as they were prior to the changes introduced in the 1970s. Our three vice-counties are vc22 (Berkshire), vc23 (Oxfordshire) and vc24 (Buckinghamshire) as indicated on the map below. Be aware that there are significant differences between these and the current boundaries, particularly for Berkshire and Oxfordshire.
If it is not clear from this map, you can check which vice-county you are in by going to the Botanical Society of the British Isles website here, typing your newly-found grid reference into the box marked "OS grid reference" then clicking on the grey box lower down marked "look up county or grid-reference".
WHO IS MY COUNTY MOTH RECORDER?
For Berkshire (vc22), the CMR for all moths is Martin Harvey:
Evermor, Bridge Street, Great Kimble, Aylesbury, Bucks HP17 9TN
For Oxfordshire (vc23), the CMR for macro-moths is Martin Townsend:
26 Bartholomew Road, Oxford OX4 3QQ
For Oxfordshire (vc23), the CMR for micro-moths is Martin Corley:
Pucketty Farm Cottage, Faringdon, Oxon SN7 8JP
For Buckinghamshire (vc24), the CMR for all moths is Martin Albertini:
11 Hargrave Road, Maidenhead, Berks SL6 6JR
Click on the CMR's name above if you wish to send them an e-mail.
WHAT DO I NEED TO RECORD?
The basic essentials are as follows:
1. Moth name
2. Location (site name and grid reference)
3. Quantity seen
4. Stage (adult, pupa, larva, egg or leaf-mine)
5. Date seen
6. Recorder's name
7. Determiner's name (if the identity was provided by someone else)
8. Method (eg type of moth trap, seen at a lit window, daytime observation etc)
9. Comments (for any other useful information, such as if the genitalia were inspected)
The field guides will tell you that some species cannot be safely identified without resorting to detailed inspection of their genitalia, a process which the individual moth will not usually survive. Whether or not you wish to pursue this option is, of course, entirely up to you but in certain cases it may be necessary if a record to species level is to be accepted. Your County Moth Recorder will be able to advise. For most macro-moths where dissection is necessary but you elect not to do so, it is still well worth recording them as an aggregate (for example November Moth agg, Marbled Minor agg, Common Rustic agg, etc).
HOW SHOULD I STORE MY RECORDS?
There are various possible options, ranging from notebook and pencil through spreadsheets like Excel to electronic recording via iRecord or by using dedicated biological recording databases such as MapMate or Recorder 6. However, before investing time, effort and in some cases money in any of these systems you need to find out how your CMR would prefer to receive your data as this may affect how you choose to store it. For vc22 Berkshire please look here. For the other two vice-counties PLEASE CONTACT YOUR CMR. You can help ease their workload considerably by adopting one of their preferences from the start!