A diary of my mothing activity covering highlights and photos from my moth trapping activities. Mainly Norfolk (UK), occasionally beyond. I may mention other wildlife sightings here, especially insects, but for birds see my birding diary.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

First new beetle of 2017 - Cercyon unipunctatus

Thursday night was disappointing with just Early Moth and Pale Brindled Beauty, though this Ophion obscuratus was my first inchneumonid wasp of the year.

Ophion obscuratus, North Elmham, 16th February

On Friday I spent the day in the Brecks where a number of insects were evident.  Most were unidentified flies and I was a little surprised not to see my first butterfly of the spring given the warmth and frequent sunny spells.  I saw a bee briefly but didn't manage to catch it or see it at rest.  I did manage to catch one of several small beetles flying around a copse, and eventually identified it as a new speices for me, Cercyon unipunctatus.  I haven't managed to identify the ticks it was carrying though...

Cercyon unipunctatus, Brecks, 17th February

Satirday night produced my first Tufted Button Acleris cristana for the year along with 3 Pale Brindled Beauties and a Chestnut.

Tufted Button Acleris cristana, North Elmham, 17th February

Last night there were 3 Pale Brindled Beauties and my first Dark Chestnut of the year.  The latter species flies in autumn through to late winter/early spring and I usually see quite a few - for example 6 at home in 2014/15 and 17 at home in 2015/16.  However this season I hadn't seen any and as it's already past the latest winter date I recorded them in 2015 or 2016 I thought I'd missed it for this season.

Dark Chestnut, North Elmham, 18th February

Today I had a quick wander round Beetley Common where I actually managed to identify a fungus for a change - Birch Polypore.  There were some more tiny bracket (?) fungi on a fallen branch very much like the ones I saw at Felbrigg during the week and which I still haven't managed to identify.  Also I noticed a lot of silver birches with what looked like orange rust on one side.  I'm not quite certain but I think it's something called Trentepohlia (the genus - there are several similar species) which, despite its very orange colour, are apparently types of green algae (Chlorophyta).

I also found a couple of woodlice beneath some bark.  I checked loads of woodlice using the FSC key last year and nearly all of them (in fact it might have been all of them) turned out to be Common Rough Woodlouse.  One of the two today was black and big and looked pretty much like many of the Common Rough Woodlouse I've seen before but the other was more colourful and much smaller.  I took it home to check, optimistic that it might be something new.  No, turned out to be a Common Rough Woodlouse too - presumably a young one?

Common Rough Woodlouse, Beetley Common, 19th February

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Moths beginning to get off the mark

Single Chestnuts on 5th and 6th February were the last moths for a few days as the weather turned colder.  Then on Monday night things started to warm up with Early Moth and Pale Brindled Beauty on and around the trap before I went to bed.  Sadly nothing else made it into the trap overnight, but it's a good start.

Tuesday was so mild (at least in sheltered places) and sunny I thought I might come across a butterfly or two.  Some people did, but not me.  This Brown Hare was nice...

Brown Hare, Moorgate (Blickling), 14th February

Fungi continue to baffle me and tease me in equal measures and I've not managed to put a name to this lot.  They were small - I'd say about the size of a 5p coin, and growing on a fallen branch.  Not sure what species of tree the branch came off - it was mixed woodland with several different species of both deciduous and coniferous species in the immediate vicinity.

unidentified fungi, Lion's Mouth, Felbrigg, 14th February

Tuesday night produced 3 Pale Brindled Beauties and a Chestnut along with 2 micros new for the year - Rusty Oak Button Acleris ferrugana and Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla.

Rusty Oak Button Acleris ferrugana (male, gen det), North Elmham, 14th February

Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla, North Elmham, 14th February

Last night turned up 5 Pale Brindled Beauties, Spring Usher and Chestnut.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Subzero moth

Temperatures had dropped to -1 degree by early afternoon on Thursday 26th January and dropped to -3 by the morning so I really wasn't expecting any moths in the trap.  I went through it as a formality fully expecting every eggbox to be empty - and so they were until the end.  Then I turned the last one over to find a Chestnut sitting in it.  Staggering to think it was flying in such cold conditions.

Things warmed up over the next couple of nights so another Chestnut (or perhaps the same one) Friday night was less of a surpise.  Saturday night (28th) produced my latest ever Winter Moth and an Early Moth.  Another Early Moth on 30th before things improved in February.

Last Wednesday (1st Feb) was the best night so far this year with 5 species including my second ever Viburnum Button Acleris schalleriana.

Viburnum Button Acleris schalleriana (male, gen det), North Elmham, 1st February

Also new for the year was this Spring Usher.

Spring Usher, North Elmham, 1st February

A Mottled Umber was my latest ever - normally they've stopped flying by now.  Apart from a little damage to the tip of its left wing it was pretty fresh.

Mottled Umber, North Elmham, 1st February

There was also an Early Moth and 2 Chestnuts, and the following night there was only Early Moth and 3 Chestnuts.  A single Chestnut on Friday night.  Saturday night produced my first Dotted Border of the year and 2 Early Moths.

Dotted Border, North Elmham, 4th February

Last night there was just one Chestnut again.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Pale Brindled Beauty

When I checked my trap before going to bed last night there was a Pale Brindled Beauty on it - my first this year.  A surprise find on a pretty chilly night - it was minus 5 by the morning!

Pale Brindled Beauty, North Elmham, 19th January

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Early Moth not all that early really

My last post reported my first 4 moth species of the year on 7th - until last night I'd added no more species to the year list.  There had been another 4 Mottled Umbers and a Winter Moth on 8th and single Winter Moth, Mottled Umber and Chestnut on 10th.

I expected an 8th consecutive nil return last night as although it was a fraction milder than previous nights I didn't think it was warm enough for anything to emerge.  This Early Moth thought otherwise. Not actually all that early.

Early Moth, North Elmham, 18th January

Sunday, 8 January 2017

First moths of 2017

I've had the moth trap on each night but have had no moths since 23rd December... until last night.  2017 finally swung into action with 7 moths of 4 species: Sallow Button Acleris hastiana, Winter Moth, 4 Mottled Umbers and Chestnut.

Mottled Umbers, North Elmham, 7th January

Sallow Button Acleris hastiana, North Elmham, 7th January

Winter Moth, North Elmham, 7th January

Chestnut, North Elmham, 7th January

I also finished submitting the last of my 2016 records this morning.  Last year I recorded 38,176 moths of which 21,589 were in my garden.  The total number of species in the garden was an impressive (at least I was impressed) 627 (comprising 316 macros and 311 micros) and bringing my garden moth list to 720 (starting in August 2014).  I wonder how many new species this year will bring...

Monday, 26 December 2016

December's moths and things

A Chestnut was the only moth on 1st December but the following evening produced 2 Winter Moths, Feathered Thorn and another Chestnut.  3 Winter Moths and a Mottled Umber on 3rd were followed by a couple of nil returns.  Another Winter Moth showed up on 6th accompanied by the caddisfly Limnephilus lunatus.

This spider appeared inside the house on 7th - so far I haven't been able to identify it as there seem to be a number of similar species.

unidentified spider, North Elmham, 7th December

A better showing on the night of 7th December: December Moth, 2 Winter Moths, Scarce Umber and 2 Mottled Umbers. Four species again the following night with Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, Rusty-dot Pearl Udea ferrugalis, Winter Moth and Mottled Umber. Nice to get a migrant (the Rusty-dot Pearl) in December!

Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, North Elmham, 8th December

Rusty-dot Pearl Udea ferrugalis, North Elmham, 8th December

Other insects that night included Common Earwig, another Limnephilus lunatus and this Rove Beetle which I cannot identify.  Any help welcome!

unidentified Rove Beetle, North Elmham, 8th December

A surprise on 9th December was by far my latest ever Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea.  Apart from one in Cornwall in mid November my previous latest was 6th November, so over a month later than any I've recorded in Norfolk before.

Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, North Elmham, 9th December

A Mottled Umber was the only other moth that night, along with another Common Earwig and Limnephilus lunatus.  The following night produced Winter Moth, Mottled Umber and Chestnut, with just single Mottled Umbers the following two nights.  Next day I found a moth in the bathroom, presumably having come indoors the night before, or perhaps beforehand.  It proved to be a Common Cosmet Mompha epilobiella, only my second record at home this year.  Presumably it was trying to over-winter here.

Common Cosmet Mompha epilobiella, North Elmham, 13th December

That night there was another Mottled Umber and the bug Pinalitus cervinus.

Pinalitus cervinus, North Elmham, 13th December

The following night there were 2 Winter Moths and a Mottled Umber.  No moths on 15th but another Pinalitus cervinus.

Pinalitus cervinus, North Elmham, 15th December

A Mottled Umber on 16th and the caddisfly Limnephilus lunatus on 17th.  Winter Moth on 18th, Mottled Umber on 19th, nothing on 10th, 4 Winter Moths on 21st, nothing on 22nd and Winter Moth and Mottled Umber on 23rd.

Nothing on 24th or on the very mild but windy night of Christmas Day.  The ladybirds hibernating (or more accurately in winter dormancy - apparently insects don't actually hibernate in the strict sense of the word) in my study have noticed the change in temperatures though... some of them are going for little wanders now.