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, 16 April 2017

Cornish mothing

I spent a week in Cornwall at the beginning of this month and hoped to pick up on a few different moths and other inverts.  Well, the weather had other ideas - virtually every night was clear and cold and the ones that were slightly less so were too windy.  I set up the trap in the garden of where we were staying every night but by and large the catches were very similar to what I catch at home on an average night at this time of year.
  • Saturday 1st: 2 March Moths, 5 Water Carpets, Double-striped Pug, 2 Early Thorns, Oak Beauty, 5 Common Quakers, 13 Hebrew Characters and Dark Chestnut;
  • Sunday 2nd: 2 March Moths, Streamer, Water Carpet, Green Carpet, Early Thorn, 2 Dotted Borders, 5 Common Quakers, 2 Twin-spotted Quakers, 12 Hebrew Characters and Angle Shades;
  • Monday 3rd: March Moth, Early Thorn, 3 Common Quakers and 11 Hebrew Characters;
  • Tuesday 4th: Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla, 2 March Moths, Streamer, Early Thorn, Red Chestnut, 3 Common Quakers and 11 Hebrew Characters;
  • Wednesday 5th: 4 March Moths, Brindled Pug, 2 Dotted Borders, Small Quaker, 6 Common Quakers, 5 Hebrew Characters, Pale Pinion, 4 Early Greys and Angle Shades;
  • Thursday 6th: March Moth, Garden Carpet, Dotted Border, 2 Common Quakers and 5 Hebrew Characters;
  • Friday 7th: Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, Water Carpet, Green Carpet, Early Thorn, Common Quaker, 4 Hebrew Characters and Angle Shades.

Streamer, Cury, 2nd April

So, the moths in the trap were a disappointment, but fortunately there were a few things worth seeing during the week.

Four caddisflies turned up in the moth trap where we were staying, including single Stenophylax sp. on Tuesday and Friday.  I'd never seen either species of Stenophylax before but according to the book Stenophylax permistus flies from April (rarely March) whereas the scarcer S. vibex flies from May, so this being early April I imagined both would be permistus.  Well both were males and the genitalia of Tuesday's confirmed Stenophylax permistus, but the genitalia of Friday's looked different - the apex of the claspers were clearly separate from segment 9 - which indicated Stenophylex vibex.  There are images of the genitalia for both species on the German website and comparing both insects to the lateral and dorsal views of each species seemed to confirm my identifications for both insects.  Furthermore it is reported that unlike permistus, vibex shows a second distinct pale area on the wing (although this may not be a reliable feature) - and my apparent vibex did indeed show two clear pale areas on the wing, whereas the permistus didn't.  So I assume I had one of each, and that either the vibex was exceptionally early or else the flight times given in the book aren't reliable for southern Cornwall.

Stenophylex permistus (male), Cury, 4th April

apparent Stenophylex vibex (male), Cury, 7th April

The other two caddisflies caught in the trap where we were staying were both Limnephilus auricula on Friday.  This is probably the commonest species I get at home, though I've not had any caddis yet this year at home.

Limnephilus auricula (male), Cury, 7th April

Elsewhere I spent a bit of time most mornings looking for seabirds off Lizard Point and also saw 4 Common Dolphins on Wednesday and at least one Harbour Porpoise on Friday.

I picked up a few interesting insects out and about including my first Green-veined White, Red Admiral, Comma and Sepckled Woods of the year and 5 Double-striped Pugs flying at dusk on Goonhilly Downs

Comma, Heligan, 5th April

A load of bees attending holes in a bank at the Lost Gardens of Heligan were, I think, Ashy Mining Bees, the first time I've identified this species.

Ashy Mining Bees Andrena cineraria, Heligan, 5th April

A Painted Lady at Dodmans Point was my earliest ever in the UK - by quite a long way.

Painted Lady, Dodman Point, 5th April

Also at Dodman Point I found this beetle, my first identified example of Opatrum sabulosum.

Opatrum sabulosum, Dodman Point, 5th April

Goonhilly Downs in the sunshine on Thursday produced Narrow-winged Pug.

Narrow-winged Pug, Goonhilly Downs, 6th April

Goonhilly Earth Station, 6th April

Nearby I netted 3 Heather Tortrixes Argyrotaenia ljungiana and my first new moth of the trip, Ling Tubic Amphisbatis incongruella.  The latter as been recorded recently from Dersingham Bog in Norfolk and had I stayed at home I'd have probably been looking for it there this week.

Ling Tubic Amphisbatis incongruella (male, gen det), Croft Pascoe, 6th April

 Heather Tortrix Argyrotaenia ljungiana, Croft Pascoe, 6th April

In the evening I had a look round Lizard Point, finding this Green Tiger Beetle at Caerthillian.

Green Tiger Beetle, Caerthillian, 6th April

A number of Moth Flies (Psychodidae) were near the point and I retained one in order to attempt to identify it.  Not tried these before and am by no means confident about the result, but I think its Psychoda surcoufi.

Psychoda surcoufi, Lizard Point, 6th April

I caught one of 2-3 moths seen along the clifftop footpath by the lighthouse and it was evidently an Agonopterix sp.  It was pretty worn so its identity was not immediately obvious, although had I been in the know the round wing tip should have clinched it even without being able to see the markings.  As it was I resorted to checking it under the microscope...  it proved to be a species not recorded in Norfolk so not one I had on my radar - Rolling Carrot Flat-body Agonopterix rotunda.

Rolling Carrot Flat-body Agonopterix rotunda (male, gen det), Lizard Point, 6th April

There was also a Green Carpet as it got dark and then I headed off inland a bit.  The forecast had promised cloud but this hadn't materialised and temperatures were dropping.  Even so it looked as good as any other night so I had a quick look at a couple of sites with my headtorch - if that proved good I would set up properly somewhere.  A Water Carpet at Brays Cot was followed by 3 Water Carpets, Narrow-winged Pug and Early Thorn at Gwendraeth Valley and an Early Thorn at Croft Pascoe.  But as any hint of cloud disappeared and the temperature fell further any moths became hard to find and it clearly wasn't going to be worth setting up the MV light.

My first dragonfly of the year was this Large Red Damselfly along the path from Kynance to Lizard next morning.  Sadly I failed to find any of the Vagrant Emperors that had been seen on the peninsula.

Large Red Damselfly, between Kynance and Lizard, 7th April

In the evening I returned to Lizard Point to see if there were any more moths flying in the evening sunshine.  I found another moth new to me, although this one should be reasonably easy to find in Norfolk with a bit of effort in suitable habitat: Coastal Flat-body Agonopterix yeatiana.

Coastal Flat-body Agonopterix yeatiana (female, gen det), Lizard Point, 7th April

An Elachista looked interesting and eventually proved to be another non-Norfolk species I'd not seen before: Field Dwarf Elachista consortella.

Field Dwarf Elachista consortella (male, gen det), Lizard Point, 7th April

A walk round Lizard Point looking for migrant birds on my last morning wasn't especially successful for birds but I did spot a caddisfly flying above a stream.  I netted it and checked it at home later and it turned out to be a new species for me: Yellow Spotted Sedge Philopotamus montanus.  This is a common species in the South West, Wales, the North and Scotland but I don't think it occurs anywhere near Norfolk.

Yellow Spotted Sedge Philopotamus montanus (male), Lizard Point, 8th April

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