Friday, 18 September 2020

Number 8 - now in Wolvercote

Tonight is the first anniversary of my first Clifden Nonpareil. This morning, the penultimate eggbox in a fairly sparse and generally routine collection of moths yielded my eighth this year. I was due to see a friend in Wolvercote with a general interest in natural history and I remembered that Steve Goddard recorded Nonpareils there last year and in 2019. So I hope it wasn't irresponsible to bike down with the quiet and contented visitor and release it near Port Meadow in the fine Morning Glory climber shown above.  I've just seen Alan's post, immediately preceding this, and am delighted that Tackley is now on this relentless tourist's tick list. The second picture shows the moth in Thrupp before its two-wheeled journey.

The picture below is probably far too blurred but if you think there's enough there for a 'probable' ID, Dave, this is the only picture I've got of the micro which I hopelessly hadn't noticed behind the poor wasp victim shown in my last post, which you thought might be Cameraria ohridella.  We do have horse chestnuts around us.   Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon 

A delightful first for me

A slightly disheveled but, very obliging, 

Clifden nonpareil.


Alan Diver,

Box Moths in abundance, and unidentified Pugs

There were 16 Box Moths in my actinic trap this morning, including two of the melanic form, more than I have ever had before.

I've also had two pugs recently, as shown in the photos below. The second one was on the wall of the house near the trap, and the colours are rather yellow in the early morning sun. Help with ID please. Thanks.

John Clough, Marlow

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Blogger changes

Many of you seem to have been coping well with the recent changes to Blogger, which is more than can be said for me!  The previous post was actually my first successful one using the "New Blogger", prompted by the fact that the option to "Revert to Old Blogger" (which I've always used up to now) seems to have been removed as of today.  I simply couldn't get things to work under the new system but the reason why has just become clear to me - it seems that I'm one of the few people in the world still using Internet Explorer.  If anyone else out there is still wedded to IE, be advised that if you update your browser to Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome or whatever, then Blogger should work properly again for you.

Dave Wilton 

Away trapping

On Monday night I took two MV traps to Oakley Wood in Bernwood Forest, Bucks for three hours from dusk, primarily to get a 2020 record of Clifden Nonpareil at the site.  The moth duly turned up (one to each trap) but there was little else of interest amongst the 35 species caught apart from my first two examples for this year of Figure of Eight.

Figure of Eight, Bernwood 14th September

On Tuesday night I ventured to Stoke Common in the south of the county and was joined there by Martin Albertini and Robin Knill-Jones.  We ran six lights, primarily to check on the populations of Neglected Rustic and Heath Rustic which in VC24 are more or less restricted to this large heathland site, but also to see if another Clifden Nonpareil might turn up after Martin and I had one to light there three years ago.  We struck lucky for all three species.  Neglected Rustic, evenly split between both of its colour forms, was the second most numerous species at the traps after Square-spot Rustic and I had 41 of them to my lights alone.  We got half a dozen Heath Rustics, most of them quite worn although the one illustrated was still fairly well marked.  Finally, as I was packing up one of my lights a Clifden Nonpareil kindly turned up too, so mission accomplished!

Neglected Rustics, Stoke Common 15th September

Heath Rustic, Stoke Common 15th September

Dave Wilton, Westcott Bucks

Deep-brown Dart help

No Convolvulus Hawkmoth or Clifden Nonpareil for me here at sunny Tilehurst, but I do have this one query. 
From the 2 photos of the same moth can it be ascertained whether it is a Deep-brown Dart? I did try looking at the hindwing before it escaped and there did seem to be some indication of faint blackish dashes across the centre. Either that or my eyes were giving out at this stage having stared at it for so long.

Just checking

 I assume this is a female Turnip rather than Pearly Underling. It does seem to have a bit of a crest although not grey.

My annual Vestal turned up on Tuesday night. I seem to get one a year.

Andy Newbold, Sibford Ferris, Oxon.

Brave little chap

I don't know if anyone has any theories about the stout-hearted little chap below, perhaps a Dusky Thorn? Did he suffer in the pupa or on emergence? Or was he the rather astonishing survivor of a bird or bat attack? At all events, he nimbly stepped from eggbox to eggbox and bristled his antennae. I can't imagine that he could fly, but he got into the trap somehow (and there was no evidence of attack inside).

Moths continue to be numerous but predictable. New ones recently include a Hummingbird Hawk and this morning a Large Ranunculus.   Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

A couple of variations

 Been trapping regularly in Sonning lately and like several others in the 3 counties, I've caught a couple of wonderfully fresh Clifden Nonpareils - so I'm pretty sure that they are now breeding locally - and also more Brindled Greens and Cypress Pugs than I can remember seeing in 25 years of trapping here. Recent highlights though have included Sallow ab flavescens and the melanic form of Box Moth - neither of which I have seen before.

Clifden Nonpareil underside

Sallow and ab flavescens

Box Moth - melanic form

Autumn drifts on...

Things continue to wind down here in Wolvercote, Oxfordshire, but the night of the 15th was reasonably promising, and I deployed my mercury lamp to see whether I could get a reasonable catch. I was rewarded with 36 species and almost 150 individuals, with the highlight a handsome Large Ranunculus. There were also a couple of queries, as well as one from the previous night: I can't decide whether this is a worn specimen of a perfectly familiar species, or possibly an Acleris shepherdana:

Unknown micro sp., 14/9/20

This micro (like my one the other day) looks like an Elachista species, but isn't fully ticking any boxes for me:

Unknown micro sp., 15/9/20

And I'm usually very confident on Black Rustic, which is what I thought this individual was when I first found it; but it was distinctly on the small side - around 17/18mm - and the markings around the kidney mark aren't especially striking: so it could simply be a Deep-brown Dart (of which I've had several:

Possible Black Rustic, 15/9/20

As ever, any suggestions/confirmations would be welcome!

Steve Goddard

Could this be . . . . .

 . . . . . a Cypress Pug, and if so, is it unusual? I don't normally try my luck with worn pugs, but this one does seem to be 'doable'! Confirmation requested, please! David Dennis

Dark specimen?

 I need help and suggestions for this worn specimen please.  Deep Brown  Dart perhaps   Thank you

Steve Lockey (Garsington)

Westcott, Bucks

It is time again for the weekly update.  The past seven nights have been quite acceptable in the garden and I'm working my way all too quickly through the few species left to see this year.  The following adult moths have been added to the 2020 garden list, taking the total to 570 species so far:

(9th)    Brindled Green
(10th)  Pine Carpet, Pink-barred Sallow
(11th)  Platyptilia gonodactyla
(12th)  - nil -
(13th)  Sallow
(14th)  Mallow, Dark Spectacle
(15th)  Barred Sallow, Dusky-lemon Sallow, Beaded Chestnut

Platyptilia gonodactyla, Westcott 11th September

Mallow, Westcott 14th September

Dark Spectacles, Westcott 14th September

Dusky-lemon Sallow, Westcott 15th September

I thought I'd missed seeing Platyptilia gonodactyla here this year so the appearance of this second-brood specimen was very welcome.  It is a fairly regular visitor even though Colt's-foot isn't plentiful in the immediate vicinity of the garden.  The pair of Dark Spectacles on the 14th would in past years have been counted as migrants but the species is now so regular here, as well as at quite a few other sites in our region, that it should probably now be counted as a resident.  Dusky-lemon Sallow has always been a local speciality and last night's specimen was a particularly "dusky" example. 

Amongst the other species, a relatively fresh Dingy Footman (11th, a species not seen here since 24th August) might perhaps indicate an attempt at a second brood.  I can't match Martin's numbers in Thrupp but Clifton Nonpareil visitors have risen to five in the garden this year with a pair to light on the 13th. 

Dingy Footman, Westcott 11th September

Clifden Nonpareils, Westcott 13th September
Despite the potential for migrants over the last couple of nights thanks to a plume of really warm air moving up from north Africa, nothing of note has as yet reached Westcott.  However, the conditions over those two nights were perfect for the local moths too and the totals here were really good (404 moths of 52 species on the 14th, 589 of 55 species on the 15th).  Square-spot Rustic and Lunar Underwing are now appearing in their expected numbers (181 and 106 respectively last night).  Albeit at a lower level, another species doing really well here at the moment is Rosy Rustic.  Last night's five examples take the year's garden count past 90, the previous annual high being 42 in 2019.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Numbers up - lacking in quality in Longwick!

Last night brought quite an increase in volume in the trap even if most of it was miniscule! The usual pile of miniature flies was on close inspection full of very large numbers of Phyllonorycter species. On the macro front it seems the oaks released a significant number of species with two Brindled Green and Oak Hook-tip appearing. I also had two fresh looking Least Carpets -  the first for a while - as was a Garden Pebble. The majority of the catch was made up of 62 Square Spot Rustic and 39 Lunar Underwings! A couple of queries are included - what appears to be Ypsolopha Alpella?  And perhaps Aproaerema anthyllidella?

I am ever hopeful of Convolvulus Hawk but despite at least six years of planting Tobacco Plants none has yet to be graced by anything more than a Silver Y! Finally the sunshine has brought out the second brood of Clepsis Dumicolana with five dancing in front of the ivy yesterday.

A Wave of some sort?

I'm not sure what to think of this moth, wingspan 22mm, in my garden trap last night. Suggestions please.

Richard Ellis

Beautiful Marbled

 I understand there has been a few seen at Portland Bill this one overshot a bit!

Steve Lockey (Garsington)

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Autumnal Rustic

 In view of the warm weather, I was hoping that Monday night would be good for moths, and I wasn't disappointed. My two lights brought a total of 368 moths of 41 species. For once, Square-spot Rustic was not the most numerous: its count of merely 77 individuals was beaten by Lunar Underwing with 138.

I was excited to find that I had three Autumnal Rustics: a first for the garden.

Autumnal Rustics
Newton Longville 14th September 2020

According to the Atlas of Britain & Ireland's Larger Moths, this is a species in significant decline: a fall of 89% since 1970. It has a rather odd-looking distribution - present throughout most of Britain apart from a blank stripe running northeast from Somerset to Lincolnshire, across much of the upper Thames area. When I bought the atlas, I made an overlay on tracing paper that I can place over the distribution maps to see how the dots relate to VC24 and to the 10k grid square where I live. It appears that in Bucks, Autumnal Rustic is confined to the eastern edge of the county, including "my" 10k square.

A quick search on this blog (using the box in the top left corner of the home page) found a couple of posts by Dave Wilton in previous years mentioning its presence on the Ashridge Estate, on Rammamere Heath (on the Bucks/Beds border about 7 km from my garden) and in the soon-to-be formerly disused railway cutting at Salden Wood, less than 3 km away. The latter is now a construction zone as East West Rail work to reconstruct this section of the old Oxford-Cambridge railway. Let's hope that the Autumnal Rustics cling on: they're certainly a very smart moth.

Autumnal Rustic
Newton Longville 14th September 2020
Tim Arnold
Newton Longville, Bucks

Aperture size?

 Hi everyone

I'm fitting a new funnel lid to my trap and wondered what size of aperture people have on their setup?

As you can see the current funnel is cut to an aperture of 15cm, which I think is too big. Maybe I'm just paranoidly imagining all the Clifden Nonpareil that have escaped during the night before I open it up in the morning! ... Or maybe I'm just jeolous! Anyway the new funnel is only 3cm which feels to small. 

So big enough to catch to a Privet Hawkmoth by small enough to keep most things in; what do you think?

Andrew Cornick SU28

Dark Crimson Underwing

Please can you confirm this is a very old Dark Crimson Underwing caught in the trap at Berghers Hill, South Bucks last night (14th Sept) Thanks Peter

More and more...

Lovely to see Vikki Rose's Merveille du Jour this morning - and don't lose hope of a Nonpareil, Vikki. I had another two here this morning, one of them in absolutely mint condition (below and on the right in the top picture and the left in the second one). Because I wanted to show them to neighbours - having advertised their amazing presence here widely on our village Facebook etc - they were getting warmed up when we met at 9.30am and didn't hang about for bigger hindwing pictures. But what a delight!

While I'm on, it's interesting that iRecord apparently still has no Clifden Nonpareil records for Oxfordshire - I raised the issue on their Forum page and a helpful chap called Gustav Clark told me this. I always send mine to them but equally always get the Record Cleaner email. It doesn't concern me unless anyone writing about the amazing resurgence - and surely entomologists are - is missing out on their apparent fondness for our county. These are my sixth and seventh callers, (one of them a repeat).

We're still four days short of the first anniversary of my first-ever CN, so with luck this year's story may not yet be over. Meanwhile I eagerly await my first MduJ - and even, who knows, a Convolvulus Hawk. A neighbour's daughter found one a few years ago in her school playground in Tackley which is only a couple of miles North.  Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

Merveille Marvel

 Was surprised and delighted to find this Merveille du Jour in the trap on Sunday morning, my first in 4 years of trapping (I hoped they were around but were clearly until now very successfully avoiding the moth trap). 

Also nice to see this fresh large ranunculus

Still no sign of the Clifden nonpareil's that seem to be turning up in everyone else's traps though (might be at least another years wait for me!)

Vikki Rose, Abingdon