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.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Winter (Moth) is upon us: 573 for the year and up to date

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.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

A very late Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing and a couple of late migrants

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, 2 Pale 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, 2 Pale 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

A Chestnut was the only moth on 16th.

Lots of Sprawlers and a Streak

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, 2 Pale 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, 4 Pale 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

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Pale November Moth and confusing fungi

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

Monday, 23 November 2015

Back in Norfolk: Sprawler and Brick

I returned to Norfolk after my week in Cornwall to find two new moths for the year: Sprawler and Brick.

Sprawler, North Elmham, 26th October

Brick, North Elmham, 26th October

Not much else: Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana, 2 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, November Moth, 2 Green-brindled Crescents, Merveille du Jour and Red-line Quaker.

 Merveille du Jour and Green-brindled Crescent, North Elmham, 26th October

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Honeysuckle Midget (Phyllonorycter trifasciella) and Bindweed Bent-wing (Bedellia somnulentella)

20th October 2015 is a day that will be etched into my memory for years to come, a day when after years of effort my attempts to find a rare bird finally paid off.  And not just any old rare bird, but a Brown Shrike.  But you can read about that in my birding diary - this diary is about moths.  And there was a moth highlight that day too.  On my way to Porthgwarra (where I found the Shrike) I passed through Nanjizal Valley and caught a moth I'd never seen before.  I didn't see many day-flying moths during my week in Cornwall but as I walked through the bracken on the south side of the valley I glimpsed a moth flying across the path.  I managed to catch and pot it to examine later, and it turned out to be a Honeysuckle Midget Phyllonorycter trifasciella.  It's supposed to be a common moth, common enough even in my home county of Norfolk (where my old garden was rammed full of Honeysuckle), but for whatever reason it's one that had up to now eluded me.  So in terms of my pan-list, more valuable than the Brown Shrike.

Honeysuckle Midget Phyllonorycter trifasciella, Nanjizal, 20th October

The moths caught back at the cottage that night weren't very different from those caught the previous two nights: Brown House Moth Hofmannophila pseudospretella, Garden Carpet, Large Yellow Underwing, 2 Autumnal Rustics, 10 Setaceous Hebrew Characters, 2 Square-spot Rustics, Black Rustic, 4 Green-brindled Crescents, 14 Feathered Ranunculus, 7 Red-line Quakers, 9 Beaded Chestnuts, 55 Lunar Underwings and Angle Shades.

Among non-avian wildlife seen the next day this Stoat was the best.

Stoat, Hayle, 21st October

With poor weather overnight the moths caught were fewer than previous nights: 6 Setaceous Hebrew Characters, 5 Feathered Ranunculus, 3 Red-line Quakers, 6 Beaded Chestnuts, 35 Lunar Underwings and Rosy Rustic.

Some bigger numbers on the night of 22nd October: Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, 7 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, Common Marbled Carpet, Large Yellow Underwing, 7 Setaceous Hebrew Characters, 2 Square-spot Rustics, 4 Black Rustics, Green-brindled Crescent, 19 Feathered Ranunculus, 4 Red-line Quakers, Brown-spot Pinion, 13 Beaded Chestnuts, 74 Lunar Underwings, Angle Shades and Snout.

While at Porthgwarra on 23rd I bumped in to the couple staying at the cottage where we usually stay.  They hadn't yet emptied their moth trap and kindly invited me to pop down and have a look.  They'd caught a lot more moths than I had, and also a much greater variety.  Best among them was this Olive-tree Pearl Palpita vitrealis.  Thanks Mike!

Olive-tree Pearl Palpita vitrealis, Porthgwarra, from 22nd October

A few other bits and pieces there too, including this Feathered Brindle.

Feathered Brindle, Porthgwarra, from 22nd October

Later in the day this Betony was a flower tick.  For some reason this species seems to be much scarcer in Norfolk (and elsewhere in the Fens) than pretty much everywhere else in England.

Betony, Little Henda, 23rd October

Not much overnight at the cottage that day: Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, Setaceous Hebrew Character, 5 Feathered Ranunculus, 2 Red-line Quakers, Beaded Chestnut, 10 Lunar Underwings and Silver Y.

Not much the following night either, our last night in Cornwall: Autumnal Rustic, Small Square-spot, 3 Setaceous Hebrew Characters, Black Rustic, 8 Feathered Ranunculus, Dark Chestnut, 2 Red-line Quakers, 5 Beaded Chestnuts and 22 Lunar Underwings.

Early on our last morning I spent a short while birding at Porthgwarra before heading home.  While there I netted a moth which turned out to be Bindweed Bent-wing Bedellia somnulentella, a species I'd only seen once before.

Bindweed Bent-wing Bedellia somnulentella, Porthgwarra, 25th October

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Feathered Ranunculus

We headed down to Cornwall for a week on 18th October but had been unable to stay at our usual cottage in Porthgwarra as others had booked it.  We ended up at Trevilley Farmhouse, in Trevilley, just south of Lands End.  We arrived as it was pretty much dark and my first job was to work out where to put the moth trap.  There wasn't a lot of choice really - the garden was small and enclosed but with one small sycamore and some other bushes inside.  In front of the house was open fields, behind it was a farm building and to the side were a few small trees.  Not ideal for mothing as it turned out, but with the trap on the grass in the middle of the garden I hoped it would draw in a few moths from the few neighbouring trees and other vegetation, and perhaps even a few migrants.

Well, no migrants on the first night, but some moths I don't see at home: 8 Feathered Ranunculus and an Autumnal Rustic (both species I usually record at Porthgwarra though).

Feathered Ranunculus, Trevilley, 18th October

Autumnal Rustic, Trevilley, 18th October

In some ways the most interesting record was 11 Red-line Quakers.  Most - all I think - were very different from any Red-line Quaker I've seen at home, dark and reddish.  It seems that they belong to the form rufa, apparently commonest in the north and west.

Red-line Quaker (f. rufa), Trevilley, 18th October

Other moths in the trap that night were Little Dwarf Elachista canapennella, 4 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, 3 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, 2 Common Marbled Carpets, Brimstone Moth, Yellow-tail, 2 Large Yellow Underwings, Small Square-spot, 3 Setaceous Hebrew Characters, 4 Square-spot Rustics, Black Rustic, Green-brindled Crescent, 7 Beaded Chestnuts, 39 Lunar Underwings, Large Wainscot and Snout.

Unbeknown to me the couple staying at the cottage we normally hire were also birders and moth-ers and they managed much better... a Radford's Flame Shoulder!  Precisely what I was hoping for.  Ah well.

The following night my quest for migrants was, well, not exactly satisfied, but there was a single Dark Sword-grass.

Dark Sword-grass, Trevilley, 19th October

Otherwise it was mostly the same sort of stuff as the night before: White-shouldered House Moth Endrosis sarcitrella, Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, 4 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, 3 Large Yellow Underwings, Autumnal Rustic, 6 Setaceous Hebrew Characters, 2 Green-brindled Crescents, 11 Feathered Ranunculus, 8 Red-line Quakers, 10 Beaded Chestnuts, 43 Lunar Underwings, Angle Shades and Burnished Brass.

Feathered Ranunculus, Trevilley, 19th October

Angle Shades, Trevilley, 19th October