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.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Roydon Common

Dave and I rolled up to Roydon Common at 6 pm on Saturday, two and a half hours early for the organised Norfolk Moth Survey event.  We hoped to find some day-flying moths before putting the lights on, and I'm glad we made the effort.  We parked at the west end and walked through the woodland to the south-west corner, kicking up Diamond-back Moths Plutella xylostella on every footstep.  It's impossible to say how many we saw - I put down 2000 but wouldn't be surprised if it was more like 20,000.

What was more surprising was the difficulty we found in finding anything else, although in the end we came up with some good stuff.  Fairly quickly we found a couple of Common Marbles Celypha lacunana and a more impressive 8 Brassy Tortrixes Eulia ministrana (doubling the total number I had ever seen before).  We found a Plain Fanner Glyphipterix fuscoviridella and a couple of Common Greys Scoparia ambigualis, and Common Groundhopper, a Kidney-spot Ladybird and the red-and-black bug Cercopis vulnerata, but in the first hour or so that was about the lot.

Brassy Tortrix Eulia ministrana, Roydon Common, 4th June

Common Groundhopper, Roydon Common, 4th June

Hoof Fungus, Roydon Common, 4th June

When we reached some small clearings in the woodland things stepped up a gear. They were so thick with Diamond-back Moths it was hard to pick out anything else and the most productive technique turned out to be just to swing the net a few times and then sift through the Diamond-backs in the net for anything else.  Not that we recorded a vast array of species deploying this technique, but we did start to see a bit more quality.  Best was my first ever White-headed Dwarf Elachista albifrontella.

White-headed Dwarf Elachista albifrontella, Roydon Common, 4th June

Also here were White Oak Midget Phyllonorycter harrisella, my second ever Speckled Fanner Glyphipterix thrasonella (like my first, belonging to the plain form), Yarrow Conch Aethes smeathmanniana and 2 Rush Marbles Bactra lancealana.

Speckled Fanner Glyphipterix thrasonella, Roydon Common, 4th June

We continued along the track running west along the southern edge of the common adding Cocksfoot Moth Glyphipterix simpliciella (our third Glyphipterix species of the evening) and Red Roller Ancylis mitterbacheriana.  With the north wind cutting across the heathland we were more exposed here and saw a reduction in Diamond-back numbers, though they were still very easy to find.

A couple more White Oak Midgets Phyllonorycter harrisella were found in the row of small Oaks along this track, and it was at this point we bumbed into Paul Cobb who had also arrived early, but mainly to look for Lacewings.  We were just leaving him to head back to the car park when he knocked a small moth out of the oaks and called us back. "This is one for you" he said, finding it to be a moth and not a Lacewing, so we headed back and had a look.  It was another white Phyllonorycter, but this one had orangey transverse fascias in the basal half.  I was immediately reminded of Scarce Oak Midget Phyllonorycter kuhlweiniella, and taken back to the extraordinary events of 2014 when I discovered several of this species in north Norfolk.  Back then I wrote: "This species was not recorded in the UK between 1949 and 1982 when a population was discovered in south Norfolk. Subsequently it was recorded in south Norfolk only up until 1996 and has been looked for since but not found. There have been 3 Suffolk records, the last in 2002. There have never been any records in north Norfolk. So it seems I've uncovered a hitherto unknown population of a Red Data Book moth that has been looked for but not found for over a decade even in the places where it was once known to occur."  I went on to find lots more at several sites, and others were soon finding them too that year.  But 2014 was an extraordinary year for many Phyllonorycter species and the population explosion clearly allowed this very scarce species to be detected in places where it had presumably been hanging on undetected in small numbers all along.  Last year was back to normal and there were no more records in Norfolk (I don't know about elsewhere but haven't heard of any).  So had we got another, at another new location for the species?  Or is there another similar-looking oak-feeding species?  I couldn't remember for sure so took it home with me to confirm.  It was on its last legs and by the time it got home it had expired, but it was indeed another Scarce Oak Midget Phyllonorycter kuhlweiniella.  Nice one!

daed Scarce Oak Midget Phyllonorycter kuhlweiniella, Roydon Common, 4th June

We returned to the car park and moved round to the meeting place before deciding where to place our traps.  Some traps were set south of the western car park while others went on near the bog myrtle on the southern side in the hope of finding Light Knot Grass.  But it was pretty exposed there and I thought we ought to set some up in the more sheltered woodland on the east side, even though this is technically not part of the NWT reserve.  Dave, Richard and I set up in a clearing here, joined by Peter and Paul, and some of the others joined us for a while.  I'm glad we opted for this as we caught far more moths than the other sites I think, and no-one found the target Light Knot Grass.

The highlight for us was a White Colon, a species none of us were expecting and which Dave had arranged to search for in NW Norfolk later this week.  Apparently the group at the west end caught one too.

White Colon, Roydon Common, 4th June

Other decent macros included 2 Small Seraphims, Peacock Moth, Bordered White, 2 Lime Hawkmoths, Small Elephant Hawkmoth, 3 Lobster Moths, 2 Great Prominents and Dog's Tooth.

Peacock Moth (male, gen det), Roydon Common, 4th June

Dog's Tooth, Roydon Common, 4th June

Bordered White, Roydon Common, 4th June

Small Seraphim, Roydon Common, 4th June

Small Elephant Hawkmoth, Roydon Common, 4th June

Lime Hawkmoths, Roydon Common, 4th June

Lobster Moth, Roydon Common, 4th June

The remaining macros included 2 Common Swifts, Pebble Hook-tip, Common Carpet, Common Marbled Carpet, Grey Pine Carpet, 4 Green Carpets, 2 Mottled Pugs, Common Pug, Grey Pug, 2 Clouded Borders, Tawny-barred Angle, Pale Oak Beauty, White-pinion Spotted, Iron Prominent, 2 Lesser Swallow Prominents, Coxcomb Prominent, Pale Prominent, 2 Marbled Browns, 3 Pale Tussocks, 8 Orange Footmen, Least Black Arches, 2 Flame Shoulders, Large Yellow Underwing, Small Square-spot, Setaceous Hebrew Character, 2 Rustic Shoulder-knots, Brown Rustic, Angle Shades, Middle-barred Minor, Treble Lines and Straw Dot.

Grey Pug (female, gen det), Roydon Common, 4th June

There weren't nearly as many Diamond-back Moths coming to light as we'd seen in the clearing earlier, but other micros included Yellow-barred Long-horn Nemophora degeerella, 4 Common Marbles Celypha lacunana, Triple-blotched Bell Notocelia trimaculana, Grey Gorse Piercer Cydia ulicetana, Hook-streaked Grass-Veneer Crambus lathoniellus, Meadow Grey Scoparia pyralella and 20 Common Greys Scoparia ambigualis.

Yellow-barred Long-horn Nemophora degeerella, Roydon Common, 4th June

Additionally this very dark Cnephasia had us stumped.  I recognised the Cnephasia pattern but have never seen such a dark individual before (I think it looks paler in the photo than it did in life).  It turned out to be Flax Tortrix Cnephasia asseclana.

Flax Tortrix Cnephasia asseclana (male, gen det), Roydon Common, 4th June

Among the caddisflies was my first Plectrocnemia conspersa.  No photos of that alive but here are a couple of other caddisflies recorded: Grammotaulius nigropunctatus and Limnephilus sparsus.

Grammotaulius nigropunctatus (male), Roydon Common, 4th June

Limnephilus sparsus (female), Roydon Common, 4th June

Other inverts included 2 Common Striped Woodlice Philoscia muscorum and the mirid bug Stenodema laevigata.

Common Striped Woodlouse Philoscia muscorum, Roydon Common, 4th June

Stenodema laevigata, Roydon Common, 4th June

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