Friday, 23 April 2021

Westcott, Bucks

Considering how bitterly cold it has been overnight it might seem rather foolhardy of me to have run the garden actinic trap at Westcott on all but two of the last 22 nights.  Four of the 20 attempts produced no moths at all while the others saw varying numbers but there was almost nothing of interest.  Just 16 different species have appeared in the trap since 1st April, all of them macros, of which Muslin Moth (18th) has been the only species new for the year.  The most prolific visitor so far this month has been Hebrew Character with 51 appearances, turning up on all but one of the nights when I had any moths at all.  Powdered Quaker (28) was next in line, while the others comprised March Moth (1), Shoulder Stripe (1), Streamer (1), Red-green Carpet (1), Early Thorn (3), Brindled Beauty (6), Red Chestnut (2), Blossom Underwing (3), Small Quaker (15), Clouded Drab (11), Common Quaker (25), Twin-spotted Quaker (2) & Early Grey (6).  Hardly earth-shattering!  Our local Brown Long-eared Bat population has been active on quite a few of the nights but I imagine they will have had very slim pickings indeed.  

Muslin Moth, Westcott 18th April

Luckily I've had one or two extras here during the daytime to move this year's garden tally along to 65 species.  They included six male Emperor Moths on the 17th which were assembled between 3pm and 4pm to eight caged females who had been outdoors since mid-morning.  There must have been a significant emergence locally that day because the same females were left outside on the 16th with no success at all.  On the 18th I found Phyllocnistis unipunctella and Aphomia sociella indoors, the former wandering around on the inside of an open kitchen window, while on the 20th I happened to be watching as Caloptilia rufipennella landed on the outside of my study window and I managed to pot it before it could escape.  The four British Phyllocnistis species over-winter as adults.  I get saligna (associated with willow) and unipunctella (black poplar) regularly in the garden, while xenia (white/grey poplar) lives about a mile away, but ramulicola (sallow) hasn't yet been found in Bucks.      

Phyllocnistis unipunctella, Westcott 18th April

Over the past week I've also been out and about during the daytime with varying numbers of captive-bred female Emperors and having the usual mixed results in attracting "wild" males, some successes and some failures during the 40 minutes I allow myself at each location.  I've had the MOL pheromone lure with me too and have added a few more sites for Pammene giganteana in oak woodland (almost always with a result in five to ten minutes) although I haven't yet had luck under single hedgerow oaks or even small groups of them.  Examples of successes include Round Wood near Barton Hartshorn (an under-recorded part of north-west Bucks) which produced both Emperor and giganteana on the 20th, while straying into VC23 😲 yesterday afternoon (22nd) I got both species again in Waterperry Wood, Bernwood Forest along with a Light Orange Underwing which was netted to confirm.  

Emperor Moth pair, Round Wood 20th April

Dave Wilton Westcott, Bucks   

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