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, 27 March 2016

Breckland inverts

On Friday I spent the day in the Brecks and Fens.  My attention was mainly on birds, but always keeping an eye out for other wildlife of course.  And some of it was quite interesting, to me at least, although probably pretty unremarkable to an ardent pan-lister.

Rarely is it this late before I see a butterfly, but this year it wasn't until Friday that I saw my first identified butterflies (a couple of brief glimpses previously) - Small Tortoiseshells in 3 locations and 2 Brimstones at Hockwold Fen.  Hockwold Fen was also the site of my only beetle of the day, a new species for me, albeit apparently a very common one - Pea-leaf Weevil Sitona lineatus.

Pea-leaf Weevil Sitona lineatus, Hockwold Fen, 25th March

Earlier in the day at Lynford I found several slugs descending tree trunks.  I'm in the process of putting together a pan-list but haven't got to slugs yet, and so not made much attempt to identify many of them so far.  But these looked a bit different to the slugs I'm used to seeing so I decided to look them up.  Not 100% sure but I think they're Chestnut Slugs Deroceras invadens (please correct me if I'm wrong).

Chestnut Slugs Deroceras invadens (I think), Hockwold Fen, 25th March

When it comes to pan-listing plants I'm not sure how you can tell garden escapes from naturalised plants - I gather the latter are considered 'countable' while the former aren't.  I suspect if I ever want to take my pan-list seriously (which is unlikely) I will have to delete quite a few escapes from it.  Pretty sure half the flowers along the seawall at Burnham Overy are dodgy!  Spanish Bluebells and Grape Hyacinths for example.  Even assuming I've identified it correctly I doubt if I would be allowed to count this Glory of the Snow at a fly-tipping site...

Glory of the Snow (I think), near Cranwich Heath, 25th March

The next one was so abundant it must either be wild or naturalised, but for the life of me I couldn't find it in my books.  I was sure I've seen it before, and thought I'd even known what it was called once upon a time.  But I couldn't remember and asked here for help.  Big thanks to James again for coming to the rescue - it's the naturalised Oregon Grape (and I don't think I had ever known it before as it turns out).

Oregon Grape, Cranwich Heath, 25th March - thanks James for the ID

I'd hoped to find some moths or other interesting inverts at Cranwich Heath but drew a complete blank.  Walked all over and failed to find a single moth, beetle or bug.  I thought the semi-warm sunny afternoon might be good, but either it wasn't warm enough or it waas just too early in the season.  Or I wasn't looking hard enough.  At least this Fox was big and easy enough for me to see and identify it...

Red Fox, Cranwich Heath, 25th March

Cranwich Camp was hard work too.  I did find an intriguing woodlouse - on a rotting stump and spending most of its time down holes in the wood.  There are reasonably good references freely available online for woodlouse ID so I imagined I'd be able to put a name to it, but didn't succeed.  Once again James came to the rescue, keying it out as Common Rough Woodlouse Porcellio scaber.

Common Rough Woodlouse Porcelio scaber, Cranwich Camp, 25th March - thanks to James for the ID

One blossoming Sallow was attended by a number of bees, two of which I photographed.  I have vague recollections of identifiying Buff-tailed Bumble Bee in my youth but when I was going through my bee photos recently I couldn't find any of this species, so didn't add it to my pan-list.  I can now though, as I think this is a Buff-tailed Bumble Bee...

Buff-tailed Bumble Bee, Cranwich Camp, 25th March

I've never been very confident in separating Honey Bees from various Andrena and Colletes species, so consequently haven't paid much attention to them, and I didn't have any photos of bees that were good enough to be able to assign as Honey Bee even when I got Steven Falk and Richard Lewington's new Bees book.  So although I had clearly seen Honey Bee - and probably been stung by one - before, I didn't have any single individual that I could definitely say was one, and so hadn't added it to my pan-list.  Unless I'm much mistaken (which is always possible) this individual sets that straight.

Honey Bee, Cranwich Camp, 25th March

Back at home the moth trap yielded 2 Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana, March Moth, Common Quaker, 9 Hebrew Characters and 3 Early Greys on Friday night.  Last night produced just Dotted Border, March Moth and 4 Hebrew Characters.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

First field trip and another new moth

On Wednesday night the conditions seemed as good for mothing as they have been for ages and better than they looked like they would be for another few days.  So Dave and I headed down to Creaking Gate Lake.  There were a few moths, enough to keep us entertained for a while, though things soon dried up and we packed up quite early.  The clear highlight was a whopping 9 Yellow Horned - a fantastic total for a species that I only saw for the second time earlier this week.  Indeed it was our highest count for any species!

Yellow Horned, Creaking Gate Lake, 23rd March

The others were 4 March Tubics Diurnea fagella, Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana, March Moth, 4 Brindled Pugs, Early Thorn, 2 Oak Beauties, 2 Small Quakers, 8 Common Quakers, 2 Hebrew Characters, Satellite and 2 Chestnuts.

mating pair of March Tubics Diurnea fagella, Creaking Gate Lake, 23rd March

Brindled Pug, Creaking Gate Lake, 23rd March

Chestnut, Creaking Gate Lake, 23rd March

Satellite, Creaking Gate Lake, 23rd March

Other 'wildlife' included several millipedes which I later identified as White-legged Snake Millipedes Tachypodoiulus niger, the first time I've managed to put a name to a Millipede!

White-legged Snake Millipede Tachypodoiulus niger, Creaking Gate Lake, 23rd March

Common Earwig, Creaking Gate Lake, 23rd March

Common Toad, Creaking Gate Lake, 23rd March

When I got home I went upstairs and promptly found a Caloptilia on the landing.  It proved to be Pale Red Slender Caloptilia elongella, a new species for me and, amazingly, my 5th moth lifer at home this year.  I suppose with it being an alder-feeder and there being tonnes of alders at Creaking Gate Lake, there has to be a suspicion that I brought it home with me, but the circumstances of finding it - settled upstairs discovered as soon as I went upstairs for the first time after getting home - make it seem relatively unlilely.

Pale Red Slender Caloptilia elongella (male, gen det), North Elmham, 23rd March

Apart from that mothing at home since my last post has been fairly mediocre at best, except for my second Tufted Button Acleris cristana, also on 23rd.

Tufted Button Acleris cristana, 23rd March

The rest were:
  • Monday 21st: 2 Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana, Small Quaker and Hebrew Character;
  • Tuesday 22nd: 2 March Tubics Diurnea fagella, Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana, March Moth, Small Quaker, 6 Hebrew Characters and Chestnut; 
  • Wednesday 23rd: 3 Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana, March Moth, 2 Small Quakers, Hebrew Character, Early Grey and Chestnut; 
  • Thursday 24th: just a single Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana at a window - absolutely nothing in the moth trap
March Tubic Diurnea fagella, North Elmham, 22nd March

2-spot Ladybird, North Elmham, 24th March

Monday, 21 March 2016

Yellow Horned

I usually have a quick look round the trap before I go to bed to see if I can see any moths on the outside of the trap or nearby.  I did that last night and found 4 moths, of which 3 were new for the year.  One of those was also new for the house: Yellow Horned - only my second ever.

Yellow Horned, North Elmham, 20th March

The other two were Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla and Satellite.

Satellite, North Elmham, 20th March

Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla, North Elmham, 20th March

After that promising evening I was disappointed to find a fairly mediocre selection in the trap come the morning.  The rest of the catch consisted of Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana, Dotted Border, Common Quaker and 3 Hebrew Characters.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Deraeocoris lutescens - a new bug

The last 4 nights have been a little quieter than the previous 3 nights with no new moths for the year:

  • Wednesday: March Moth, 3 Small Quakers, 3 Hebrew Characters and Chestnut;
  • Thursday: Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana, 2 March Moths and 8 Hebrew Characters
  • Friday: 2 Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana, 2 Common Quakers, Twin-spotted Quaker, 2 Hebrew Characters, Early Grey and 2 Chestnuts;
  • Saturday: 3 Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana, 2 Hebrew Characters and Common Quaker.
Early Grey, North Elmham, 18th March

Common Quaker, North Elmham, 19th March

Friday night's moth trap did produce one notable species though - the bug Deraeocoris lutescens.  Not that it's rare, just that I've not identified one before.

Deraeocoris lutescens, North Elmham, 18th March

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Moths picking up

The last 3 nights have seen some improvement on the mothing front, with 6 species new for the year.  Not vast numbers of moths involved, but more than in any other 3-day period this year so far.

Sunday night bagged my first March Tubic Diurnea fagella of the year.

March Tubic Diurnea fagella, North Elmham, 13th March

Also new for the year was an Early Grey.  The supporting cast comprised 2 March Moths, a nicely-marked Dotted Border, 2 Common Quakers and 5 Hebrew Characters.

Dotted Border, North Elmham, 13th March

There were another 2 additions to the year-list on Monday night - the always lovely Shoulder Stripe and a Small Quaker.

Shoulder Stripe, North Elmham, 14th March

Small Quaker, North Elmham, 14th March

Bringing up the rear were Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana, 2 March Moths, 2 Common Quakers, 5 Hebrew Characters and Chestnut.

Last night's 2 new for the year were Brindled Pug and Twin-spotted Quaker.

Brindled Pug, North Elmham, 15th March

Twin-spotted Quaker, North Elmham, 15th March

Others in last night's parade were 3 March Moths, another lovely Oak Beauty, Dotted Border, Small Quaker, 4 Hebrew Characters and Chestnut.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

5th Ladybird species of the year and Grey Shoulder-knot

1st March was one of the better nights this year so far with 9 moths of 6 species.  Of those only Clouded Drab was new for the year.

Clouded Drab, North Elmham, 1st March

The new dissection group wesbite is now up and running and with it come a greater selection of images of moth genitalia than were available before.  With greater quality images of Agonopterix ciliella to compare to I now feel more confident about confiming Agonopterix heracliana, though I would still like to see an example of ciliella under the microscope.  As expected, tonight's Flat-bodies proved to be 3 Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana.

 Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana (males, gen det), North Elmham, 1st March

The other moths were March Moth, Dotted Border, Hebrew Character and 2 Chestnuts.

The following night there was just 1 Chestnut and then a run of nil returns followed, broken by a single Hebrew Character on 5th.

Not a moth, but another new ladybird for the year on 7th was this colourful 22-spot Ladybird.

22-spot Ladybird, North Elmham, 7th March

Finally on Tuesday the run of mothless nights ended with Common Quaker, Hebrew Character and Chestnut.  Wednesday night produced 2 March Moths and a Grey Shoulder-knot.  I don't see many of the latter, one or two a year usually.

Grey Shoulder-knot, North Elmham, 9th March

Also on 9th I found this midge in the house on one of the windows.  Thought it looked fairly distinctive and wondered if I could find enough information to identify it.  Turns out it's a bit of a window speciality - it was a Window Gnat Sylvicola fenestralis.

Window Gnat Syvicola fenestralis, North Elmham, 9th March

Next evening there was only one moth, but a nice one - Oak Beauty.

Oak Beauty, North Elmham, 10th March

Friday night produced 3 March Moths, Hebrew Characters and Chestnut.  Just 2 March Moths last night.