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.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Lion and Tiger (of the Ant and Garden varieties)

On Saturday morning I went up to Burnham Overy in search of late spring migrant birds.  It was a total flop in that respect but there was plenty of interest on the non-avian fronts.  Mammals included a young Muntjac on the seawall and, more unusually for this site, a Roe Deer on the marsh.  Reptiles were represented by a Common Lizard.

There haven't been nearly so many Brown-tail nests here as I've seen in the past couple of years but in one of their best spots I did find another furry caterpillar.  I believe this one is a Garden Tiger.

Garden Tiger, Burnham Overy, 28th May

There were lots of small micros in the dunes, mostly the same species - I counted about 90 Plain Fanners Glyphipterix fuscoviridella.  There must have been thousands there.  Among them was this Beautiful Groundling Caryocolum marmorea.

Beautiful Groundling Caryocolum marmorea, Burnham Overy, 28th May

Also Hook-streaked Grass-Veneer Crambus lathoniellus and 5 Cinnabars, and some Swollen-thighed Beetles.  I think these are a male (with the swollen thighs) and a female (without).

Swollen-thighed Beetles Oedemera nobilis, Burnham Overy, 28th May

Another beetle found crawling across the dunes was this one.  When I first published this I put it down tentatively as Silpha tristis, but I now think the long head indicates that it's Silpha atrata - still a new one for me.

Silpha atrata, Burnham Overy, 28th May

Butterflies put on a good show too, with at least 6 Small Coppers, at least 6 Brown Arguses, Common Blues, Peacocks, Small Heaths and Wall Browns.

Brown Argus, Burnham Overy, 28th May

My first non-Damsel Dragonfly of the year (about time too) was this Four-spotted Chaser in the dunes.

Four-spotted Chaser, Burnham Overy, 28th May

There were a few Hoverflies too, a couple of which I retained for identification.  It seems that I can't get beyond genus for one of them even with the specimen, but Chryostoxum cautum was new for me.

Chrysotoxum cautum, Burnham Overy, 28th May

Sphaerophoria sp., Burnham Overy, 28th May

My attempts at Snail identification got me a new species, Wrinkled Snail Candidula intersecta.  Apparently it also goes by the name Wrinkled Dune Snail which seems an appropriate name here but presumably not across the whole of its range that includes, for example, central England.

Wrinkled Snail Candidula intersecta, Burnham Overy, 28th May

I see a lot of these snail shells in the dunes but hadn't identified them until now.  Now I just need to find one that's still got a snail inside it...

empty Striped Snail Cernuella virgata, Burnham Overy, 28th May

I bumped into Andy Bloomfield during the morning and he kindly showed me a few spiders.  He's a bit into spiders and was excited to find a rare one known only from 12 other sites on the saltmarsh this morning.  That was after we'd parted though, so I didn't see that, but here are the ones he showed me.  All of them were new species for me.

Pin-stripe Wolf Spider Pardosa monticola, Burnham Overy, 28th May

Alopecosa barbipes, Burnham Overy, 28th May

Dune Wolf Spider Xerolycosa miniata, Burnham Overy, 28th May

Arctosa perita, Burnham Overy, 28th May - a shame I didn't focus correctly on this one as it was the coolest of the lot!

Andy also showed me something I had wanted to see for ages.  I heard about Ant-lions turning up on the Suffolk coast a few years ago, the first time they'd been recorded in the UK.  Some time later I heard they were at Holkham too but I had never found out where.  Andy found some of their larval pits and explained how the larvae sit buried in the sand at the bottom of their pit with their pincers pointing up.  When an ant falls into the pit they can't get out easily and so they end up at the bottom and fall prey to the Ant-lion.  There were loads of the pits there - quite easy to find once you know what to look for - and we had a quick look at one of the larvae before returning it to the sand.  Check out those pincers!

Ant-lion Euroleon nostras larva, Burnham Overy, 28th May

Now I'm looking forward to finding the adult Ant-lions, if I can.  Apparently August afternoons are best.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

A slow week but still several new for the year

Best moth on Tuesday night was a Broken-barred Carpet, my first this year.  Also new for the year at home was a Shears.

Broken-barred Carpet, North Elmham, 24th May

Shears, North Elmham, 24th May

Other moths were Red Twin-spot Carpet, Mottled Pug, Brimstone Moth, Iron Prominent, Pale Prominent, White Ermine, 2 Muslin Moths, 2 Cinnabars, 2 Shuttle-shaped Darts, Flame Shoulder, Bright-line Brown-eye and Rustic Shoulder-knot.

Pale Prominent, North Elmham, 24th May

Iron Prominent, North Elmham, 24th May

Rustic Shoulder-knot, North Elmham, 24th May

Bright-line Brown-eye, North Elmham, 24th May

The only caddisflies were a Glyphotaelius pellucidus and 2 Limnephilus auricula.

There weren't many moths on Wednesday night but they included 3 more new for the year: Light Brocade, Grey Dagger and Clouded-bordered Brindle.

Light Brocade, North Elmham, 25th May

Grey Dagger (male, gen det), North Elmham, 25th May

Clouded-bordered Brindle, North Elmham, 25th May

Also Red Twin-spot Carpet, Common Pug, Waved Umber, Poplar Hawkmoth, Swallow Prominent, 3 Muslin Moths, 2 Cinnabars, 2 Shuttle-shaped Darts, Rustic Shoulder-knot, 5 Treble Lines and 2 Spectacles. A Garden Snail was my first at home (but I've only started identifying snails this year).

Thursday night was poor - just Common Pug, Waved Umber, 4 Muslin Moths, White Ermine, Shuttle-shaped Dart, Flame Shoulder, Treble Lines and Angle Shades.  Oh, and a Cockchafer and a Common Wasp.

A lunch break on Friday at Thornham only got me one moth (a Cocksfoot Moth Glyphipterix simpliciella) but also a Green Hairstreak butterfly, the first time I've seen one at Thornham.

Green Hairstreak, Thornham, 27th May

A number of other moth-ers reported another poor night on Friday but although I didn't get a huge number of moths, it wasn't all that bad for me.  Pointed Groundling Scrobipalpa acuminitella was new for the house while Yellow-faced Bell Notocelia cynosbatella, Garden Pebble Evergestis forficalis and Small Angle Shades were all new for the year.

Pointed Groundling Scrobipalpa acumintella (male, gen det), North Elmham, 27th May

Small Angle Shades, North Elmham, 27th May

Yellow-faced Bell Notocelia cynosbatella, North Elmham, 27th May

Garden Pebble Evergestis forficalis, North Elmham, 27th May

By the way, is this plant from Thornham earlier in the week a garden variety of Columbine, or am I missing something in my field guide?

Columbine variety?, Thornham, 23rd May

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Another Sulphur Tubic

I thought last Sunday night might prove even better than Saturday as the conditions felt good.  It wasn't, but it wasn't far behind.  I'd already bagged a Sulphur Tubic Esperia sulphurella flying around the garden in the afternoon, my second here this year and third anywhere ever.

Sulphur Tubic Esperia sulphurella, North Elmham, 22nd May

In the trap the following were all new for the year for the garden: Black-headed Conch Cochylis atricapitana, Flame Carpet, Scorched Wing, Iron Prominent, Small Square-spot and Knot Grass.

Black-headed Conch Cochylis atricapitana, North Elmham, 22nd May

Flame Carpet, North Elmham, 22nd May

Scorched Wing, North Elmham, 22nd May

Iron Prominent, North Elmham, 22nd May

Knot Grass, North Elmham, 22nd May

Small Square-spot, North Elmham, 22nd May

Other moths were Sloe Flat-body Luquetia lobella (possibly the same one as before as I'd only released it earlier that morning), Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, 2 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, Bee Moth Aphomia sociella, 2 Red Twin-spot Carpets, Silver-ground Carpet, 4 Green Carpets, 2 Sandy Carpets, Mottled Pug, 5 Common Pugs, 2 Brimstone Moths, Waved Umber, Eyed Hawkmoth, 2 Pale Tussocks, Orange Footman, 2 White Ermines, Buff Ermine, Cinnabar, Least Black Arches, Flame Shoulder, 2 Hebrew Characters, Treble Lines and Spectacle.

Pale Tussock, North Elmham, 22nd May

Caddisflies comprised Hydropsyche pellucidula, 2 Glyphotaelius pellucidus, Limnephilus auricula and Limnephilus sparsus.

Hydropsyche pellucida, North Elmham, 22nd May

Limnephilus sparsus, North Elmham, 22nd May

After Sunday the weather worsened and this week has been poorer, though not without interest.  Monday night didn't add any new moths for the year, but produced Foxglove Pug, Flame Carpet, Silver-ground Carpet, 2 Common Pugs, 3 Muslin Moths, Shuttle-shaped Dart, Flame Shoulder, 2 Hebrew Characters and Nut-tree Tussock.

Foxglove Pug, North Elmham, 22nd May

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Lolly Longhorn

Meadow Long-horn is one of those moths that has been on my radar for a while but which I'd not managed to find.  Photos on Twitter by Mark Clements of one on Cuckoo Flowers near Sheringham made me think.  Lolly Moor has Cuckoo Flower - I bet they're there.  So on Sunday afternoon a brief spell of brightness was enough to get me down to Lolly Moor with Dave.  First observation, apart from the mass of Grass Rivulets (50+) was that there wasn't so much Cuckoo Flower there as I'd thought.  There was a bit, and I checked it but to no avail.

A few other moths were flying.  It wasn't long before we'd seen the first of at least 14 Cinereous Pearls Anania fuscalis.  One in the Attleborough square in 1996 was the first post-Victorian record in Norfolk and there were no more until Dave found some here at Lolly Moor last year.  Great to see they're still thriving this year and shows the importance of what is quite a poorly-known and very small NWT reserve.

Cinereous Pearl Anania fuscalis, Lolly Moor, 22nd May

A couple of weeks ago we'd found Knapweed Conches Epiblema cirsiana here and today at least 6 were seen again.  I took one home to check it and that proved quite interesting.  The best feature for males is the colour of the hindwing - very dark in cirsiana and paler in scutulana (it's dark on both species for females).  This wasn't very dark so by rights should have been scutulana, but I don't think it was.  It was a small moth - way smaller than the bottom end of the quoted size range of scutulana, and it lacked the extensive white at the rear dorsal corner of the wings that is apparent in most (not all) photos of scutulana and apparently not in cirsiana.  The male genitalia are extremely similar (I can't see any difference in photos) so that doesn't help but in view of the size, overall appearance and the fact that there are definitely cirsiana there makes me think it was cirsiana, and the reason for its not-too-dark hindwing being wear - it was quite a worn individual.

presumed Knapweed Bell Epiblema cirsiana, Lolly Moor, 22nd May

Many of the Buttercups scattered around the fen supported a few Plain Golds Micropterix calthella - I rough-counted 180 of them altogether.  Interestingly the dense stand of buttercups near the entrance didn't have a single moth on them.  Different species of Buttercup perhaps - I didn't check.  Quite a few (at least 8) Common Marbles Celypha lacunana were seen - my first this year.

Common Marble Celypha lacunana, Lolly Moor, 22nd May

Other moths included Swan-feather Dwarf Elachista argentella, Green Carpet and Scorched Carpet, and then we found a tiny Hemp-agrimony Plume Adaina microdactyla.

Hemp-agrimony Plume Adaina microdactyla (male, gen det), Lolly Moor, 22nd May

We were nearly done when I checked one last Cuckoo Flower and there on it was the moth I went there looking for, my first ever Meadow Long-horn Cauchas rufimitrella.

Meadow Long-horn Cauchas rufimitrella, Lolly Moor, 22nd May

Around the same time I netted a small moth that turned out to be another new moth for me, Triple-striped Piercer Grapholita compositella.

Triple-striped Piercer Grapholita compositella, Lolly Moor, 22nd May

This Drinker caterpillar was by the path on the way out.

Drinker, Lolly Moor, 22nd May

Not bad for an hour or so's work at a small reserve 10 minutes from home.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Six Parornix species here in 2 years

The Parornix moths are a tricky group to identify and really need dissecting to be sure.  There are 8 species in Norfolk and you can expect to pick up a selection of these if you do take the trouble to confirm them.  I've been surprised in the variety here at North Elmham.  When I moved here in August 2014 I retained 3 specimens at random in anticipation that I would be learning to dissect later that autumn - they all proved to be different: scoticella, betulae and torquillella.  So far this year I've had 3 Parornix and I've dissected each one - again they've all been different, but moreover they've been different from 2014's - devoniella, anglicella and now finitimella.  So that's 6 out of the 8 leaving the scarce fagivora (only one record in this vice-county) and carpinella (only one record of a mine in Norfolk, no records in this VC).

The one I've just dissected was a female Pointed Slender Parornix finitimella from Saturday night and was my first ever example of this species.

Pointed Slender Parornix finitimella (female, gen det), North Elmham, 21st May

With 58 moths of 37 species Saturday night was the best so far this year.  One other was new for the house: Triple-spot Dwarf Elachista maculicerusella.

Triple-spot Dwarf Elachista maculicerusella, North Elmham, 21st May

In total there were no less than 12 species that were new for the year here, quite a lot considering I trap every night.  The other 10 were Little Ermel Swammerdamia pyrella, Silver-ground Carpet, Sandy Carpet, Foxglove Pug, 2 Mottled Pugs, Eyed Hawkmoth, Buff Ermine, Flame Shoulder, Lychnis and Spectacle.

Eyed Hawkmoth, North Elmham, 21st May

Mottled Pug, North Elmham, 21st May

Buff Ermine, North Elmham, 21st May

Lychnis, North Elmham, 21st May

Silver-ground Carpet, North Elmham, 21st May

Spectacle, North Elmham, 21st May

The other moths were 3 Carrion Moths Monopis weaverella, 2 Little Dwarfs Elachista canapennella, Dark-barred Tortrix Syndemis musculana, Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, 2 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, 3 Bee Moths Aphomia sociella, Common Swift, Pebble Hook-tip, 2 Red Twin-spot Carpets, 3 Green Carpets, Currant Pug, 7 Common Pugs, Brimstone Moth, Waved Umber, Common White Wave, 2 Poplar Hawkmoths, 2 Pale Prominents, Chocolate-tip, Pale Tussock, Orange Footman, 3 Muslin Moths, Cinnabar, Shuttle-shaped Dart, Hebrew Character and 2 Treble Lines.

Dark-barred Tortrix Syndemis musculana, North Elmham, 21st May

It was the best night so far this year for caddisflies too: another Hydropsyche pellucidula, my first identified Phryganea bipunctata, 3 Glyphotaelius pellucidus, Grammotaulius nigropunctatus (my first here) and 7 Limnephilus auriculas.

Phryganea bipunctata, North Elmham, 21st May

Grammotaulius nigropunctatus, North Elmham, 21st May

The Brown Lacewing Hemerobius humulinus was the first I've confirmed here too.

Hemerobius humulinus, North Elmham, 21st May