Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Two different SSSI Woods

On the first two nights in June I trapped for the usual three hours in two very different Sites of Special Scientific Interest, both of which are under pressure in different ways.  Belonging to the Wildlife Trust, Finemere Wood is ancient woodland surrounded by open countryside but the high-speed railway line HS2 is now under construction adjacent to part of its boundary.  Like many other woods in the greater Bernwood area, much of it was felled and replanted with conifers in the days when the Forestry Commission knew no better, but most of the conifers have now been removed and the site is being allowed to regenerate naturally as deciduous woodland.  The other site visited was Howe Park Wood in Milton Keynes, a site owned and managed by the Parks Trust who look after many of the green spaces around the city.  Although only about half the size of Finemere this is semi-ancient deciduous woodland.  It too is under threat due to isolation in an urban environment, with housing estates on all four sides and the pressure they bring from people and their pets.

At Finemere on 1st June I ran two MV lights at different spots along the main ride.  Both performed as well as expected in quite reasonable conditions, one bringing in 85 species and the other 84 for a combined total of well over 100.  There were no surprises but I was pleased to see a rather late Great Prominent having thought, with the lock-down, that it was a species I probably wouldn't record in 2020.  Tortrix viridana was just starting to appear although there was no sign yet of Archips xylosteana (and just the one crataegana).  Those three will be swamping the traps there in two or three weeks time.  Blotched Emerald was already out in some numbers, as were Heart & Dart and Straw Dot, but there were few other moths in any numbers apart from Common Swift, Light Emerald & Treble Lines.  It was good to find Cream Wave, Grass Rivulet, Sloe Pug, Small Seraphim & Brindled White-spot, while Crassa tinctella may be new for the site's already extensive moth list (I've recorded about 670 species there and the site list stands at more than 700).

At Howe Park Wood on 2nd June I ran three MV lights.  Here the results were rather disappointing despite similar weather conditions to the previous night.  The best performing trap brought in 46 species, while the other two managed only 29 and 39 respectively, a decidedly poor result for the beginning of June although the overall total came to around 80 species.  Poplar Lutestring and Purple Clay were nice to see but there was little else of any note.  As at Finemere, Light Emerald and Heart & Dart were around in some numbers but here they were surpassed by Silver-ground Carpet.  The only other species to appear in any numbers was Ingrailed Clay in its many different forms.

Poplar Lutestring, Howe Park Wood 2nd June

Purple Clay, Howe Park Wood 2nd June

And in case it helps anyone else with this species which regularly causes ID problems, here are four quite different-looking forms of the extremely variable Ingrailed Clay from Howe Part Wood.  It is sometimes difficult to believe they are all the same species!

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks  

A few more micro checks sought

I'd welcome any confirmation/correction of my labels for these recent visitors to my Robinson trap in Sonning.......

 Hedya nubiferana?

 Nematopogon swammerdamella?

Nemophora degeerella?

Rhyacionia pinivorana?

Teleiodes luculella?

Tortrix spp?

Westcott catch-up

Here's a quick catch-up on species added to this year's garden list as it is some time now since I mentioned them:

(23rd)  Udea olivalis
(24th)  Fox Moth, Orange Footman
(25th)  Notocelia trimaculana, Chrysoteuchia culmella, May Highflyer, Small Square-spot
(26th)  Ectoedemia decentella, Ptycholoma lecheana, Cochylimorpha straminea, Agapeta hamana, Cochylis
            nana, Cydia pomonella, Lathronympha strigana, Homoeosoma sinuella, Elophila nymphaeata/Brown
            China-mark, Parapoynx stratiotata/Ringed China-mark, Clouded-bordered Brindle, Snout, Buttoned
(27th)  Nematopogon metaxella, Coptotriche marginea, Argyresthia spinosella, Pandemis cerasana, Hedya
            nubiferana, Notocelia uddmannianaAcentria ephemerella, Elephant Hawk-moth, Yellow Shell, Green
            Pug, Miller, Green Silver-lines
(28th)  Luquetia lobella, Scoparia ambigualis, Small Dusty Wave, Shears
(29th)  Bucculatrix nigricomella
(30th)  Lyonetia clerkella, Zelotherses paleana, Treble Brown Spot
(31st)  Mottled Beauty, Straw Dot, Uncertain
(1st)    Paraswammerdamia albicapitella, Pterophorus pentadactyla, Eucosma cana, Blotched Emerald,
           Common Emerald, Beautiful Hook-tip, Smoky Wainscot
(2nd)   Tachystola acroxantha, Bryotropha terrella

May Highflyer (25th) was only the fourth garden record and hasn't been seen here since 2014.  The Buttoned Snout (26th) was the first to enter the trap since 2006 although I have had a handful to lit windows or indoors in the intervening period. 

May Highflyer, Westcott 25th May

Green Silver-lines, Westcott 27th May

As at 31st May the list had reached 248 confirmed species, which compares well with the 243 achieved by 31st May 2019.  The good news is that numbers of Treble Lines are now decreasing (only 16 last night) but unfortunately numbers of Heart & Dart are increasing significantly (39 last night).

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks


As Martin W posted about caterpillars, I thought I would post some recent sightings from the garden.

A couple of Scarlet Tiger in early May - one on brunnera and one on Snowberry, so hopefully I will get to see some adults soon; a Copper Underwing on hydrangea and a host of Large Whites and a few Orange-tip on the same phlox plants.

Also noticing a few Psyche casta larval cases dotted around on various objects.

Adam Bassett
Marlow Bottom

Id help

Can you help with the id of a couple of moths from last night please,could the first one be a one of the rustics and the second a very dark turnip moth.
Many thanks mike.

caterpillar contrast

I had a very enjoyable encounter yesterday with a Vapourer caterpillar - I hope I'm right in my ID. How sad that, if its a female, this exotic creature will end up looking like a jumbo woodlouse. Then this morning I discovered a more run-of-the-mill larva in the moth trap. A friend suggests Angle Shades; I'd be grateful for advice.  Martin Wainwright, Thrupp, Oxon

A pug, a micro and a giant

Help is needed with this pug. The rather pointed wing-tips are confusing me.

Is this micro Apotomis sororculana?

And finally here is the biggest Poplar Hawkmoth I have ever seen (f/w 46mm).

Dave Ferguson, Beaconsfield, Bucks

Varied Coronet?

Rushing this morning as it started to rain so no nice "glamour shots" of this, but I think it's a Varied Coronet?

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford.

2 micros for id confirmation

The number of micros appearing in the garden trap here in Cookham seems to be improving. The first micro pictured below is one I have not seen before. I think it is the Timothy Tortrix Aphelia paleana (or is it now Zelotherses paleana?).

The second micro pictured below I think is Cydia fagiglandana. Unless it is a very early Cydia splendana?

Steve Trigg, Cookham

ID Query The Shears

We found this one on a back of a roof tile. I was wondering if this is the Shears? The white central marking seeming more to be a white spot than 'shears'. The tile nib area near the moth's wing is 20mm.

Isobel Huggins, Goring on Thames, Oxon

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Help with ID please

Good evening, can you have a look at these for me. The first I wrote down as Lychnis first thing, but now I think its Shears?

The second one 14mm forewing..
And the third one..I thought Minor sp to start flew..

Many thanks!

Moths for beginners

A new guide designed for anyone starting out on macro-moth identification and recording in our area is now available on the BC-UTB website: The guide has been produced by myself with help from Dave Wilton; at present it is available to download as a set of PDF files, but it will be available as web pages in the future (thanks to David Hastings).

The guide consists of an introductory page, including a simplified initial macro-moth classification, naming of moth parts, and notes on how to identify and record findings. This is followed by several pages of photos of moths designed to help identify some common macro-moths quickly if they have a distinctive colour (including a brief guide to common 'brown jobs'), a defined pattern or motif, or if found flying by day. Although these are somewhat superficial (and limited) ways of identifying moths, these pages also emphasise the different families of moths to help the new recorder start to appreciate the natural classification of moths as an aid to identification (as becomes increasingly important when attempting to identify micro-moths, to which it is hoped to extend the guide in future).

So have a look at the guide if you are just starting out on moth recording or know of someone who would potentially benefit from it. It is primarily my own view of what would have been useful to me when taking up moth recording, and comments on its potential usefulness to others would be appreciated.

John Thacker, Harwell

Monday, 1 June 2020

Yet more day-flyers

Two local Bucks BBOWT reserves, Lapland Farm Meadows and Bernwood Meadows, both of which are home to Forester Moth, were visited this afternoon but both sites proved to be very dessicated and virtually the only things in flower were Ox-eye Daisies (many mal-formed) and Buttercups.  There was no sign of Forester at either place so hopefully the moth is able to synchronize its appearance with plants it can nectar from and will appear in another week or two.  Lapland Farm did produce more than 30 Burnet Companions as well as a Mother Shipton and a single very early Six-spot Burnet, while at Bernwood Meadows I was lucky enough to notice this female Adela croesella on an Ox-eye Daisy, a moth I don't see all that often.

Adela croesella, Bernwood Meadows 1st June

The third place I checked today was Gavray Drive Meadows on the edge of Bicester in Oxon.  This is an excellent site for wildlife which has been under threat of development for years.  Two of the many priority invertebrates which live there were seen today, Black Hairstreak butterfly and Forester Moth.  Although not as dry as the earlier two sites, there were again few flowering plants apart from Buttercups but at least I managed to find a few spots of Ragged Robin and that produced six Foresters.  A further four were seen in flight across the site to give ten in all but when the Knapweed is in flower I'd expect to find a lot more.  Other species seen here included Zelotherses paleana and Common Heath.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks

Pheromone success!

Set up a pheromone lure for Yellow-legged Clearwing on an Oak tree near Ali's Pond LNR in Sonning yesterday and had to wait a full 3 minutes for one to turn up. Amazing - and what a fantastic wasp mimic! A new parish record. Also caught a couple of stunners in the Robinson trap overnight - Barred Yellow and Scorched Wing. Probably only see one of each of these every 5 years or so.

Yellow-legged Clearwing

Barred Yellow

Scorched Wing

Platyedra subcinerea?

I trapped this last week and ended up thinking it might be this species, but as they seem quite scarce thought I'd better check. I am in South Bucks for recording purposes, near the M4 in Burnham.

Hope it is identifiable from the picture as I did not keep the moth.

Beautiful Golden Y

This is a new one for me, seems it's a fairly common moth but nice to have. Meanwhile first Large Yellow Underwing was a week or so ago, still only getting the odd one. First Heart & Club yesterday.

Mark Griffiths, Garsington, Oxford.

Pugs and a micro

Couple of pugs for you - as much as identifying them (if you can), any tips on what to look for in pug identification would be great.  Or resources that might help my confusion.

and a grey micro with not a lot of features - about 12-15 mm long.

Saturday night was a big one, and several new species for the garden.  Not sure if they are real changes or just more effort at this time of year.



Barnaby, Iver, Bucks

Sunday, 31 May 2020

Pine Hawk-moth

Found this rather nice Pine Hawk-moth in my trap in Abingdon this morning. New for both myself and the garden. Also really pleased to see numbers of Heart & Dart moving towards their usual abundance, although maybe still slightly down on the numbers found here last year.

Vikki Rose Abingdon

More day-flyers

I had another try with some of the clearwing lures in the garden today.  The Hornet Moth lure was out first thing and produced nothing as usual (I've never had any success at all with this one).  The MYO and VES lures went out at 11am and by 12.30pm I'd had five Red-belted Clearwings to MYO so that one was exchanged for TIP.  Nothing at all had come to VES or TIP by 6pm so I'll try again in a week or so.

Red-belted Clearwing, Westcott 31st May

This afternoon I took the opportunity to have a look at the Forester Moth colony at Charndon, Bucks.  I was expecting large numbers and indeed wasn't disappointed, with 95 recorded over two kilometre squares of private wild-flower meadows.  There will have been many more present as I kept mainly to the bridleway which crosses the site and I couldn't hope to cover every field.  They were reluctant to fly in the heat and, with no Ragged Robin available and Knapweed not yet in flower, they were sitting around mostly on their other favourites, Red Clover and the purplish Tufted Vetch that was in flower here and there.  There was actually a dearth of nectar sources so, unusually, any flowering plant was worth looking at and I also found them on White Clover, Bird's-foot Trefoil, Buttercup and Ox-eye Daisy.

Forester & Glyphipterix simpliciella, Charndon 31st May

If anyone in south Bucks is looking for somewhere to visit then a check on the Chalfont Heights Forester colony would be really appreciated (TQ 0090 & TQ 0190).  It would also be very interesting to know if it is having a bumper year in our other two counties as well.  I know that one has already been seen at BBOWT's Meadow Farm site (VC23) and I shall try to get to Gavray Drive Meadows on the edge of Bicester.  There are one or two sites in Berkshire too.

Dave Wilton
Westcott, Bucks 

Marlow Bottom weekend

An interesting couple of days trapping at Marlow Bottom. I'm sure everyone has moths that are supposedly common and should turn up in your garden based on habitat, but inextricably don't.  Two of these for me gave themselves up: Scalloped Hook-tip and Apotomis turbidana. I get loads of A. betuletana and have lots of birch, so never understood it.

I have not been getting much variety or depth in macros recently, though Bird's Wing last night is always nice to see, but have been getting a few micros e.g. Prays ruficeps, Argyresthia spinosella, curvella, retinella, trifasciata and pruniella. One of the most interesting was when I was going through the trap this morning, three small black micros began flying around a nearby fence post. I potted one and it was the bagworm, Narycia duplicella, a new one for me.

Another new one for, that took a while to identify was Luquetia lobella.

I also had an example of the dark winged Pandemis cerasana similar to the one Alistair Driver posted recently.

Finally, I don't want to make this post too long, but I have a couple of micros for comment. The first is a Caloptilia sp, which looked fine last night but has not lasted - the photos reflect this:

And a Pseudatemelia sp. It is over 11mm in length and I wondered if it was too large and too early for josephinae, which is the species I have recorded many times - I have kept it for Peter.

Adam Bassett