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.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Powdered Quakers and a dead first for Norfolk

Still cold and not many moths... just 7 on Tuesday night (Brindled Beauty, 2 Powdered Quakers and 4 Hebrew Characters) and 6 last night (Clouded Drab and 5 Hebrew Characters). 

Powdered Quaker, North Elmham, 28th April

Dave netted some moths at Kelling Heath on Tuesday and sent me some photos.  One was one of the Birch-feeding Eriocraniids, I thought probably Large Birch Purple Eriocrania sangii.  It had died by the time he brought it round to me but at least that meant I could have a good look at it.  According to the keys the two commoner Birch feeders, sangii and semipurpurella, have narrow hair-like scales in the discal area of the hindwing, unlike the other species that have broader scales.  They also have antennae slightly longer than half the length of the forewing.  This individual had antennae shorter than half the length of the forewing but the scales on the hindwing looked pretty narrow to me.  Hair-like though, I wasn't sure, so looked for photos that show the difference.  Chris Lewis's British Lepidoptera site shows a close-up photo of each (comparing hair-like scales of sangii with broader scales of unimaculella).  Through the microscope Dave's moth's hindwing looked like Chris's image of unimaculella.  So it couldn't be sangii or semipurpurella, and that immediately made it more interesting.

Continuing through the key in MOGBI I eliminated cicatricella (= haworthii) and chrysolepidella as the forewing wasn't elongate which left salopiella and sparrmannella.  The latter has mixed fuscous and whitish hairs on the head and a golden forewing strongly reticulated with purple whereas salopiella, and Dave's moth, has pale yellow hairs on the head and forewing mostly suffused purple.  As a final double check in case I'd misjudged the hindwing or forewing shape I checked images of the other species, none of which seem to share the pale yellow head hairs.  Other images of salopiella were good matches, so I think the ID is safe, Small Birch Purple Eriocrania salopiella.  It's not a hugely rare moth in Norfolk, but is usually only recorded from leafmines or larvae.  Indeed looking through the 13 previous county records I see they're ALL larvae or leafmines, which makes Dave's the first adult to be recorded in Norfolk!

Here is a pic of the hindwing (compare with Chris's image comparison), a close-up of the head showing the pale yellow hairs and one of the whole moth.

Small Birch Purple Eriocrania salopiella, collected from Kelling Heath by DN, 28th April

***Update***: this is now gen detted and considered to be correctly identified, along with a second indivdual caught a few days later - see this blog post.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Cold nights

Sunday night was dire with just Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla and 2 Muslin Moths.  Last night wasn't much better with Muslin Moth, 4 Hebrew Characters and Early Grey.

Yesterday lunchtime was a bit warmer when I went for a walk round Syderstone Common.  A Common Oak Purple Dyseriocrania subpurpurella was the only moth seen but Green Tiger Beetles were noted along with Gorse Shieldbug.

Green Tiger Beetles, Syderstone Common, 27th April

Peacock, Syderstone Common, 27th April

Sunday, 26 April 2015

An odd selection

Birding at Burnham Overy this morning I disturbed my first Cinnabar of the year and two more Straw-barred Pearls Pyrausta despicata.  Other insects included this fine Peacock.

Peacock, Burnham Overy, 25th April

Last night was a wet one but also a cooler one, so not so many moths trapped at home.  An odd selection though: Brindled Beauty, Swallow Prominent, 3 Muslin Moths and 3 Hebrew Characters.  It's no surprise that at North Elmham I'm picking up a slightly different range of species compared to my last house at Bawdeswell, but it is a surprise to get 75% of the species in a single catch all species that I never once trapped at Bawdeswell!  But Brindled Beauty, Swallow Prominent and Muslin Moth are all species that never appeared in several years of catching moths at Bawdeswell, despite being common species generally.

 Muslin Moths, North Elmham, 25th April

 Swallow Prominent, North Elmham, 25th April

 Brindled Beauty, North Elmham, 25th April

A few new for the year

Friday was warm and that warmth stayed into the evening.  Cloud was forecast for dusk and the first part of the night so it looked really promising for moths.  After netting our first Red Twin-spot Carpet of the year by torchlight, Dave and I set up at Creaking Gate Lake in the hope of finding those moths.

Unfortunately the clouds hadn't read the weather forecast and moved swiftly off, leaving the moon to glare down on us.  We gave it our best shot but by soon after 10 I decided to call it a day - it wasn't worth a late night and all that entails for disrupting birding activity for the weekend.  We did manage a few moths, just not enough to make it worthwhile.  New for the year for me were Common Oak Purple Dyseriocrania subpurpurella, Pebble Hook-tip and Shuttle-shaped Dart.

Pebble Hook-tip, Creaking Gate Lake, 24th April

Shuttle-shaped Dart, Creaking Gate Lake, 24th April

Other nice moths were Water Carpet and 2 Purple Thorns:

Water Carpet, Creaking Gate Lake, 24th April

Purple Thorns, Creaking Gate Lake, 24th April

The rest were Brindled Pug, Small Quaker, Common Quaker, 3 Clouded Drabs, 2 Hebrew Characters and 14 Nut-tree Tussocks.

Other insects included what I think is Javesella pellucida, a new bug for me if I'm right (and probably even if I'm not right).

probable Javesella pelucida, Creaking Gate Lake, 24th April

Common Groundhopper, Creaking Gate Lake, 24th April

Chironomus plumosus, Creaking Gate Lake, 24th April

Back at home a dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet got away before I could get a pot over it.  Though dark-barred with a small d I suspect it may have been Red Twin-spot Carpet, not Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet.  My first Scorched Carpet of the year was easier, though this flew off as soon as I got this photo too.

Scorched Carpet, North Elmham, 24th April

I was surprised to find a Twin-spotted Quaker in the trap.  These mainly fly in March and I've only seen them in April twice before, never nearly as late in April as this.

Twin-spotted Quaker, North Elmham, 24th April

Powdered Quaker was next best and the supporting cast were Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana, 2 Common Plumes Emmelina monodactyla, Shoulder Stripe, Brindled Pug, Early Thorn, 2 Brindled Beauties, Small Quaker, 2 Common Quakers, 3 Clouded Drabs, 4 Hebrew Characters and Early Grey.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Brindled Beauties galore

I never used to get Brindled Beauties at my old house - never had a single one there or anywhere else while I was living there.  For that reason I think of them as being quite scarce, though they aren't really, being recorded from 30-40 sites across the county nearly every year.  Last night was a cold night and I only had 6 moths - yet they included 4 Brindled Beauties!  A welcome change from the old house.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Muslin Moth and Powdered Quakers

A good night last night with two new moths for the year, Muslin Moth and 2 Powdered Quakers.  Also Streamer, Shoulder Stripe and 2 Brindled Beauties.

Muslin Moth, North Elmham, 22nd April

Powdered Quakers, North Elmham, 22nd April

Lesser stuff was Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla, Brindled Pug, Early Thorn, 2 Small Quakers, 2 Common Quakers, 3 Clouded Drabs, 8 Hebrew Characters and Early Grey.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Swallow Prominent

The last 3 nights have been cool and clear and moth numbers have been low.  Tuesday night scraped a Brindled Beauty and my first Swallow Prominent of the year, but it's been dire apart from that.

Swallow Prominent, North Elmham, 20th April

Brindled Beauty, North Elmham, 20th April

The rest were Small Quaker, 2 Hebrew Characters and Early Grey on Monday night, 2 Clouded Drabs, 3 Hebrew Characters and Early Grey on Tuesday night and Early Thorn, Clouded Drab, 2 Hebrew Characters and 2 Early Greys last night.

No doubt the sunny days would have produced a few more interesting insects had I not been working, but I did manage Holly Blue, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell in my lunch break on Tuesday.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Emperor Moths

Dave recently borrowed an Emperor pheremone lure from Ben and has had some amazing success with it.  I - and some others - had been hoping to join him giving it another go on Saturday afternoon but with my bug in full swing I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to join him after all.  In the end we agreed a location where I wouldn't have to walk far and I gave it a go.  It was as much as I can manage - I fell asleep exhausted the moment I got back - but I was glad I made the effort.

We had Emperor Moths come in 14 times including after the lure had been putting away and they continued to be attracted to Dave who'd been carrying the lure!  How many individuals were involved is anyone's guess.

Emperor Moths, Kelling Heath, 18th April

Not much else in the way of leipdoptera - 1-2 Peacocks.  Also 2-3 Green Tiger Beetles seen, 2-3 Common Lizards and 3 Adders.

Red Chestnut and Pine Beauty

Wednesday night produced 3 moths that were new for the year, at least for the house: Little Dwarf Elachista canapennella (see separate post on those), 2 Double-striped Pugs and Red Chestnut.

 Red Chestnut, North Elmham, 15th April

Other stuff included 3 Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana, Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla, Brindled Pug, 2 Early Thorns, 4 Small Quakers, 8 Common Quakers, 8 Clouded Drabs, 9 Hebrew Characters, 3 Early Greys and Chestnut.

There was less about the next night - or maybe I was just too sick to check carefully enough.  One moth made it worthwhile, a cracking Pine Beauty:

Pine Beauty, North Elmham, 16th April

Apart from that just Little Dwarf Elachista canapennella, Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla, 2 Small Quakers, 3 Common Quakers, 2 Clouded Drabs, 11 Hebrew Characters and 3 Early Greys.

Friday night was worse: Early Thorn, Purple Thorn, Small Quaker, 2 Clouded Drabs, 2 Common Quakers, 7 Hebrew Characters and Early Grey.

Saturday night was a similar story: Little Dwarf Elachista canapennella, March Tubic Diurnea fagella, March Moth, 4 Small Quakers, 3 Clouded Drabs, 5 Common Quakers, 12 Hebrew Characters and Early Grey.  The March Moth was easily my latest ever.

Little Dwarfs

It sounds like some sort of small planetary body, Little Dwarf.  A tautology of a name and one that I'm sure must have the anti-English-names-for-micros brigade spitting feathers.  Elachista canapennella is its real name, for those who don't appreciate the attempt to make micros more accessible to the (English-speaking) masses by giving them common names.

This isn't a micro that's going to excite anyone except an already converted die-hard micro enthusiast - it's a tiny grey speck, possibly the most insignificant-looking moth you're ever likely to see.

Anyway, for such an easily overlooked micro there are quite a good number of records in Norfolk.  It had elluded me until I moved to North Elmham last year when I had six in my trap during September.  The past week has brounght three more.  Judging from other people's photos they can often be a bit more distinctive with a more contrasting black-and-white pattern, but all mine have been grey like these.  Not the easiest ID to be sure of but I did check these under the microscope (not easy then either!).  All were males - if the two individuals illustrated in MOGBI are anything to go by that might explain why so dull - the female pictured in MOGBI is far better marked than the male.
Little Dwarf Elachista canapennella, North Elmham, 15th April

Little Dwarf Elachista canapennella, North Elmham, 16th April

Little Dwarf Elachista canapennella, North Elmham, 18th April

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Brindled Beauty, Purple Thorn, Streamers and some pan-ticks

Monday night was much the same as recent nights except for the addition of this Early Thorn.

Early Thorn, North Elmham, 13th April

Otherwise just the usual stuff, if in marginally larger numbers: Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana, 2 Small Quakers, 3 Common Quakers, 5 Clouded Drabs, 7 Hebrew Characters and 2 Early Greys.

A Hoverfly was identified as my first Heringia heringi - at least it was probably this species but there are some rarer species of Heringia that can't be absolutely ruled out without reference to the genitalia.

presumed Heringia heringi, North Elmham, 13th April

Tuesday evening was much better though with 11 species, all macros (where are all my micros??).  Best from a personal perspective was this Brindled Beauty - though a common and widespread species it's one that's always eluded me before, save for one Dave brought round a few days ago.

Brindled Beauty, North Elmham, 14th April

Equally impressive was this Purple Thorn:

Purple Thorn, North Elmham, 14th April

Equally attractive and also new for the year were 2 Streamers:

Streamer, North Elmham, 14th April

The rest were 2 Early Thorns, Oak Beauty, 2 Small Quakers, 5 Common Quakers, 3 Clouded Drabs, 6 Hebrew Characters, Early Grey and Chestnut. Of these the Chestnut was notable for being an extremely small individual - wing length of 12 mm (normally 14-15 mm) - and one of the Small Quakers was well marked:

Small Quaker, North Elmham, 14th April

Chestnut, North Elmham, 14th April

As if anyone needed proof that spiders are nasty, evil creatures, check out the skull pattern on this Black Lace-weaver Spider, the first time I've identified this species.

Black Lace-weaver Spider, North Elmham, 14th April

Googling 'skull abdomen spider' gets more hits for False Widow Spider but the supposed skull pattern on them isn't half as good as on this beast.  Anyway, an utterly horrid creature, making this caddisfly look attractive.  It seems to be Glyphotaelius pellucidus, the first time I've identified that too, though in doing so I found one among some unidentified caddisflies I'd photographed previously.  The notch in the rear edge of the wing seems to be diagnostic, I think.

Glyphotaelius pellucidus, North Elmham, 14th April