Friday, 29 November 2013

Norfolk moths: Rockland St. Peter garden, 28 November 2013

Another fairly warm, humid night: 5.3°C at 17h30, 6.4°C at 21h00 and 6.6°C at 07h00. Dead calm at dusk, the breeze rose over night becoming southerly and strong enough to sway branches by dawn. Partially cloudy sky with a thin, last-quarter moon.

A Winter Moth was resting on the wall above the trap in the early evening. These moths are frequently seen in car headlights as I drive arond the winter roads and often come onto the lighted windows, but although they are common this is the first time the trap has attracted one. A Scarce Umber was photograhed this time. No Mottled Umber yet...

Once again, Andy Mackay has been kind enough to look over moth photographs and confirm ID, as well as providing helpful tips for future identification.

Winter Moth Operophtera brumata

Scarce Umber Agriopis aurantiaria

Macro-moths (6 moths of 3 spp.); no micros:- 

Poecilocampa populi December Moth 4
Operophtera brumata Winter Moth 1
Agriopis aurantiaria Scarce Umber 1

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Norfolk moths: Rockland St. Peter garden, 27 November 2013

A few minutes after sunset, at 16h04, Rocklands Mere track.
After an impressive sunset, with a highly conspicuous Venus, it was a relatively warm, humid night: 6.0°C at 17h30, 4.7°C at 21h00, falling to 3.8°C at 07h00. There was no breeze, a partially cloudy sky and a little mist by early morning. The thin, last-quarter moon was clearly visible before dawn in the southeastern sky.

December Moths were in evidence from early evening, with half the individuals on the walls and ground outside the trap. Morning revealed a single each of Chestnut and Dark Chestnut, the former new for the trap.

Chestnut Conistra vaccinii & Dark Chestnut C. ligula - note the difference in wing tip shape.

Macro-moths (13 moths of 3 spp.); no micros:-

Poecilocampa populi December Moth 11
Conistra vaccinii Chestnut 1
Conistra ligula Dark Chestnut 1

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Norfolk moths: Rockland St. Peter garden, 23 November 2013

The night of 23 November was relatively warm: 8.7°C at 17h30, 4.9°C at 22h30 climbing to 7.0°C at 07h00. A light southerly breeze dropped away by early morning, and by 05h30 a light drizzle was falling on the trap, but the moon - commencing its last quarter, was clearly visible over the rooves.

By 21h00 a conspicuous dark moth had settled on the wall of the lean-to. It had the familiar textbook shape of the Peppered Moth Biston betularia, but turned out to be an early Pale Brindled Beauty. South (1908) gives the season as "the first two or three months of the year, but it has been noted in November and December", while Skinner (1984) mentions that "in mild weather the first specimens can appear in late autumn"; Waring, Townsend & Lewington (2003) state that it is "occasionally found in late December".

A neat December Moth was tucked in the corner of the trap. No further moths were caught during the remaining nine-and-a-half hours of trapping.

Pale Brindled Beauty Phigalia pilosaria

Macro-moths (2 moths of 2 spp.); no micros:-

Poecilocampa populi December Moth 1
Phigalia pilosaria Pale Brindled Beauty 1


Skinner, B. (1984) Colour identification guide to moths of the British Isles. Viking: Middlesex. x + 267 pp.

South, R. (1908) The moths of the British Isles, second series. Frederick Warne & Co.: London. 388 pp.

Waring, P., Townsend, M. & Lewington, R. (2003) Field guide to the moths of Great Britain and Ireland. British Wildlife Publishing: Hook, Hampshire. 432 pp.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

RSPB Strumpshaw Fen

Autumn reed beds and water meadows, Strumpshaw Fen
River Yare at Strumpshaw Fen
Guelder Rose Viburnum opulus
Field Maple Acer campestre
Crab Apples Malus sylvestris - Fieldfare food
Giant Puffball Calvatia gigantea
Greylags & Teal, Tower Hide, Strumpshaw Fen
Getting dark at half-past three, Tower Hide, Strumpshaw Fen

Norfolk moths: Rockland St. Peter garden, 16 November 2013

The night of 16 November was the warmest dry night for ten days or so and nearly windless. After an empty trap on 7 November, I had decided to avoid using it on the cold nights, and I steeled myself for the results. It was 8.1°C at 19h30, 6.0°C at 22h00 and 6.3°C at 06h30. A full moon made for a bright start to the night - it was still shining brightly when I turned in at 23h00 - but by 05h30 a light mist was falling on the trap and the moon was obscured.

Despite the reduced catch, there were two new species. By 19h00, I had already seen a couple of December Moths resting outside the trap. At 05h30 an attractive bright orange geometrid came into the light and then settled on the gravel a few feet from the trap. This proved to be a male Scarce Umber, which unfortunately flew away while I was trying to photograph it later in the morning.

December Moth Poecilocampa populi

Macro-moths (4 moths of 3 spp.); no micros:-

Poecilocampa populi December Moth 2
Colotois pennaria Feathered Thorn 1
Agriopis aurantiaria Scarce Umber 1