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.
The unseasonally warm temperatures and southerly airflow have brought some extraordinary migrant moths to southern England over the last few days including somewhere in the region of 40-50 examples of the striking micro moth Syncopacma polychromella - a species previously only recorded about 7 times in the UK. One of those reached Norfolk but by and large Norfolk has been too far north to take part in the latest migrant extravaganza.
After a nil return on Saturday night and just a Chestnut the night before I finally got a migrant last night. Sadly it wasn't an exciting rarity from far south, it was a Silver Y.
Last night's mildness brought me fewer moths than the night before, but more than double the variety - 5 species.
This December Moth was my latest ever by a week.
December Moth, North Elmham, 16th December
But this Garden Midget Phyllonorycter messaniella was later. It's supposed to be the fourth commonest micro in November (according to here) but my latest ever was late October. But although it might not have been surprising in November, no adult Phyllonorycter appears to have ever been recorded in Norfolk in December - so presumably the latest in the county by a good two and a half weeks at least.
Garden Midget Phyllonorycter messaniella, North Elmham, 16th December
It's all a bit samey but there are a few moths on the wing now it's getting milder. Mottled Umber on Thursday, another on Saturday night, Winter Moth and Mottled Umber on Sunday night and another Mottled Umber on Monday. Then last night temperatures soared into double figures and a good total for December: 4 Winter Moths and 3 Mottled Umbers. Tonight's even milder and without the rain the trap is better positioned... might we hit double figures...?
Here are two of the Mottled Umbers from last night, like nearly all of this month's moths, settled near the trap not inside it.
Mottled Umbers, North Elmham, 15th December
Winter Moth, North Elmham, 15th December
Apologies for cross-posting the rest of this post with my birding diary... I've seen a mouse in my garden on numerous occasions, often going in
or out of the shed (where it eats my bird food) but have never managed
to have a sufficiently prolonged look at it to be able to identify it. On Saturday afternoon I kept seeing it dart out of the shed and back in, with
perhaps a couple of minutes between each dash. Far too quick to see
anything on it, but perhaps I could catch it on the camera? Even with
the ISO cranked up to the highest possible setting I could barely get
enough speed to catch it mid-dash, but eventually it paused for long
enough on its way out of the shed for me to get some grainy shots. Let
me know if you think differently, but I reckon it's a Wood Mouse.
Sunday night was mild and produced a selection of moths, not bad for December - London Dowd Blastobasis lacticolella, Rusty Oak Button Acleris ferrugana, 2 Winter Moths and Mottled Umber.
Rusty Oak Button Acleris ferrugana (male, gen det), North Elmham, 6th December
There was also this Great Diving Beetle Dysticus marginalis - at least I think that's what it is (correct me if I'm wrong, always!). Interestingly I know of 3 Norfolk moth-ers who trapped Diving Beetles on Sunday night, yet they all appear to have been different species. This was my first diving beetle of any kind for months.
Great Diving Beetle Dysticus marginalis, North Elmham, 6th December
Last night was mild too but only delivered a single Chestnut.
I went birding at Burnham Overy yesterday, and found a few more fungi. I wondered if this small but proud Earthstar was Geastrum coronatum, overlooking the fact that Tiny Earthstar G minimum is similar. Thanks to James for clarifying that Tiny Earthstar has the spore sac about 1 cm while G coronatum has a larger sac, about 2 cm. This one was around 1 cm (I took a photo of it next to my boot for size check), and as I know Tiny Earthstar occurs here and James says coronatum is less frequent in dunes, probably safe call this on Tiny Earthstar.
Tiny Earthstar, Burnham Overy, 7th December
James also helped steer me in the right direction with this, which I had assumed was a fungus. It is in fact a lichen, one of the Peltigera species. Thanks James!
Peltigera sp. (lichen), Burnham Overy, 7th December
17th November saw what will probably prove to be my last new moth for the year, a Winter Moth. It brings the garden year-list up to 573 species (310 macros, 263 micros) which I reckon isn't too shabby a total.
Winter Moth, North Elmham, 17th November
A Yellow-line Quaker was the only other moth that night and the following three evenings saw just single moths each night: December Moth, Dark Chestnut and another Dark Chestnut.
Dark Chestnut, North Elmham, 19th November
Then the cold northerly gales on 21st November killed the dying season and I got my first nil return of the winter period, followed by more over the next couple of nights.
A Winter Moth on 24th November got things back on track, with Winter Moth and Dark Chestnut on 25th, Feathered Thorn and Dark Chestnut on 26th and December Moth, Winter Moth and Mottled Umber on 27th.
Winter Moth, North Elmham, 24th November
Then back to nil returns until last night, bringing me up to date at last.
The highlight on Guy Fawkes Night was a Variable Smudge Ypsolopha ustella, my first here and only my fourth ever.
Variable Smudge Ypsolopha ustella, North Elmham, 5th November
The weirdest record this night was a Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, a common species but one that normally stops flying at the end of August. I checked the wing pattern and genitalia carefully to rule out Langmaid's, not that that's a late speices either.
exceptionally late Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, North Elmham, 5th November
Good to see one late migrant - even if it was only a Diamond-back Moth Plutella xylostella.
Diamond-back Moth Plutella xylostella, North Elmham, 5th November
Other moths that night were 2 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, Common Marbled Carpet, 2Pale November Moths, November Moth agg., 4 Feathered Thorns and 5 Sprawlers.
The next few nights were a bit more ordinary:
Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, December Moth, Pale November Moth, November Moth agg., 9 Feathered Thorns, Mottled Umber, 3 Sprawlers and Green-brindled Crescent on 6th;
December Moth, November Moth, Pale November Moth, Feathered Thorn and 2 Sprawlers on 7th;
Ashy Button Acleris sparsana, 5 December Moths, November Moth, 2Pale November Moths, 4 Feathered Thorns and Yellow-line Quaker on 8th;
Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla, December Moth, Feathered Thorn, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Sprawler and Dark Chestnut on 9th.
December Moth, North Elmham, 6th November
The first December Moth on 8th seemed very small, and when I found the second and put them side-by-side the size difference was remarkable. The second was in fact a bit larger than most as you can see when all 5 are in a row (they're the 3rd and 4th from the left in the second photo).
December Moths, North Elmham, 8th November
The next 3 nights' catches all consisted of Sprawlers and one other species. On 10th November it was 5 Sprawlers and my first Scarce Umber of the year.
Scarce Umber, North Elmham, 10th November
11th was single Sprawler and Yellow-line Quaker and on 12th it was my first Rusty-dot Pearl Udea ferrugalis of the year and 2 Sprawlers. Nice to get a migrant so late in the year.
Rusty-dot Pearl Udea ferrugalis, North Elmham, 12th November
The Sprawlers were my last of the year (assuming I don't get any late ones) and brought the total for the autumn to an incredible 60 individuals.
Just one Mottled Umber on 13th and Satellite and Chestnut on 14th. So few moths you'd think it was mid November already...
Satellite, North Elmham, 14th November
I was a bit surprised to find a leafhopper in the trap on 14th, with it being such a cool night. Having eliminated some similar species on wing-venation I'm pretty sure it's Eupteryx filicum, a new species for me.
Eupteryx filicum, North Elmham, 14th November
A Rusty Oak Button Acleris ferrugana, on 15th November was the only one of these I've had this autumn. Also Feathered Thorn and Setaceous Hebrew Character.
Rusty Oak Button Acleris ferrugana (male, gen det), North Elmham, 15th November
30th October saw a handful of moths: Garden Midget Phyllonorycter messaniella, Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, Grey Pine Carpet, November Moth (plus an aggregate), 3 Feathered Thorns, Mottled Umber, 4 Sprawlers, Merveille du Jour, Chestnut, Beaded Chestnut and Sallow.
This Feathered Thorn caught me out - looking smaller than most and with strongly-marked cross-lines (but poorly marked pale spots in the apex of the wings). It reminded me more of dusky Scalloped Oak than Feathered Thorn at first glance, but of course a closer inspection revealed the true identity, with the white based antennae eliminating any niggling doubts. Actually doesn't seem all that unusual going by photos online, but looked it to me at the time!
Feathered Thorn, North Elmham, 30th October
The next three days produced lower numbers of pretty typical stuff:
Firethorn Leaf-miner Phyllonorycter leucographella, 3 Feathered Thorns, Sprawler, Blair's Shoulder-knot, Merveille du Jour, Yellow-line Quaker and Beaded Chestnut on 31st;
Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, Feathered Thorn, 5 Sprawlers and 2 Chestnuts on 1st November;
Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, 2 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, 3 November Moths, 2 November Moth aggs., 2 Feathered Thorns, Mottled Umber, 4 Sprawlers, Green-brindled Crescent, Merveille du Jour, Brick and Beaded Chestnut on 2nd.
Brick, North Elmham, 2nd November
The 3rd delivered no less than 10 Sprawlers, an excellent count considering I only ever seen 3 singles in the 8 years I was at Bawdeswell. There was a fair variety of other bits and pieces that night too: Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, 3 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, Red-green Carpet, 5 November Moths, 2Pale November Moths, 2 November Moth aggs., 5 Feathered Thorns, Mottled Umber, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Green-brindled Crescent, 2 Merveille du Jours, Chestnut, 2 Yellow-line Quakers, Beaded Chestnut and Pale Mottled Willow.
Red-green Carpet, North Elmham, 3rd November
Yellow-line Quaker, North Elmham, 3rd November
4th November was a good night, the star of the show being a Streak - a moth I recorded for the first time last year.
Streak, North Elmham, 4th November
Also new for the year was this December Moth:
December Moth, North Elmham, 4th November
The night also produced Ashy Button Acleris sparsana, Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, 4Pale November Moths, November Moth agg., 2 Feathered Thorns, Setaceous Hebrew Character, 6 Sprawlers, Green-brindled Crescent, Red-line Quaker and Yellow-line Quaker.
Ashy Button Acleris sparsana, North Elmham, 4th November
Pale November Moth (male, gen det), North Elmham, 4th November
Dave and I had seen one or two moths briefly at Caister on 26th which we didn't determine but which we suspected might have been Vapourers. Next day I saw another at Burnham Overy and this time got a good enough look at it to confirm - it was indeed a Vapourer.
The fungi at Burnham Overy were interesting, but again showed up my inability to identify mushrooms. I'd heard that Collared Earthstars are in the dunes and thought I might have found some, but they didn't seem to show much of a collar. Are they Collared? The ones in the books look more collared than these, but does the collar develop later, or are these something else? Well thanks to James I now know that they are indeed Collared Earthstar - a new one for me.
Collared Earthstars, Burnham Overy, 27th October
Even more intriguing was this thing which having thumbed through my fungi guides I could only suggest Black Morel. I realised that was unlikely as it's supposed to fruit in spring and the habitat was wrong, but couldn't find any better matches. Well I should have trusted my initial instinct as Stinkhorn crossed my mind when I first saw it, but it looks so different from the Stinkhorns in my books. Thanks to James I now know it is Dune Stinkhorn - I presume that's the same as Sand Stinkhorn Phallus hadriani. In my defence only two of my four fungus ID books feature that species and only one illustrates it - an example with a far longer stem and shorter cap (the other book does describe it more helpfully, but only as a footnote under the commoner Stinkhorn species).
Dune Stinkhorn, Burnham Overy, 27th October
Moths that night included no less than 5 Sprawlers. Also Firethorn Leaf-miner Phyllonorycter leucographella, Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana, Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, 2 Red-green Carpets,November Moth agg. and Mottled Umber.
Firethorn Leaf-miner Phyllonorycter leucographella, North Elmham, 27th October
Mottled Umber, North Elmham, 27th October
The next night was rubbish - just 2 Sprawlers.
The night of 29th brought my first Pale November Moth of the autumn. Also Common Marbled Carpet, 3 Feathered Thorns, 3 Sprawlers, Green-brindled Crescent, Yellow-line Quaker and Beaded Chestnut.
Pale November Moth (male, gen det), North Elmham, 29th October