Description


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.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Beetley Common by torchlight and now caught up

I'd recently acquired a new headtorch with a very bright beam so on the relativly mild evening of 28th October I decided to have a wander round Beetley Common to see if it was any good for mothing.  In the first few yards 3 moths passed through the torchbeam, two of which I managed to net: White-triangle Slender Caloptilia stigmatella and Nut Leaf Blister Moth Phyllonorycter coryli.

White-triangle Slender Caloptilia stigmatella, Beetley Common, 29th October


Nut Leaf Blister Moth Phyllonorycter coryli, Beetley Common, 29th October


After that things went downhill as the temperature dropped - just one more moth which I didn't manage to catch and a Green Lacewing Chrysoperla carnea agg. (actually they go brown in the winter, but they're still Green Lacewings not Brown Lacewings...).  It will be interesting to see how effective this method is when there are more moths about - my impression is that with a good beam it will make finding and catching flying moths easier although I'm not sure it actually attracts them to the light.  On the downside the light was noticeably dimmer after just a couple of quick circuits of the common so battery life doesn't seem particularly good, plus I'm not sure how comfortable it will be if it attracts lots of midges to my forehead!

The light was good at picking out certain types of fungi (although others were much harder to see than in daylight).  This Fly Agaric was nice and easy to identify.

Fly Agaric, Beetley Common, 29th October


This Stinkhorn was covered in flies - anyone know what sort of fly?


Stinkhorn with flies, Beetley Common, 29th October


I'd tentatively identified these as Parasol Mushrooms though noted that they were smaller and in different habitat from other Parasols I'd seen.  Big thanks to James for putting me right... they are in fact False Death Caps.


False Death Caps, Beetley Common, 29th October


I'd considered Penny Bun and Bay Bolete for these, but James thinks they're Bay Boletes...



Bay Boletes, Beetley Common, 29th October


At home that night I caught my first December Moth of the autumn.

December Moth, North Elmham, 29th October


This Currant Pug was a surprise being about a month later than my previous latest.

Currant Pug, North Elmham, 29th October


I find separation of Currant Pugs and Wormwood Pugs tricky - there are supposed to be differences in the prominence of the wing markings but I can't personally find any consistent differences.  The way they hold their wings also seems to be variable although size can be a good indicator on many, though they're close enough and with enough overlap that I now measure them all and check the genitalia of the ones that aren't clear.  With a forewing of 9.5-10 mm this individual was too small for Wormwood Pug but I checked it anyway.  The aedeagus was indeed that of a Currant Pug with three cornuti arranged in a band at the tip, so I'm sure the ID must be correct, but the 8th sternite was long and notched like on a Wormwood Pug!

8th sternite of Currant Pug resembling that of a Wormwood Pug, North Elmham, 29th October


Also late was my second October record of Common Marble Celypha lacunana.  There was also a bit of an Epirrita fest with 8 November Moths, 5 Pale November Moths and 2 unidentified (1 female, 1 escaped).  Also 2 Yellow-line Quakers, Barred Sallow and Angle Shades.

Pale November Moth (male, 8th sternite checked), North Elmham, 29th October


This cluster of 4 Harlequin Ladybirds seem to think my study is a good place to hibernate.

Harlequin Ladybird, North Elmham, 29th October


Next night there were Red-green Carpet, November Moth, Pale November Moth, 2 Yellow-line Quakers, Beaded Chestnut and 2 Angle Shades.

The last night of October produced a female Epirrita sp., 4 Feathered Thorns, Black Rustic, Green-brindled Crescent, Yellow-line Quaker and Beaded Chestnut.

November started very quietly on the moth front with Feathered Thorn and 2 Sprawlers on 1st, Sprawler and Beaded Chestnut on 2nd, just one Feathered Thorn on 3rd and nothing at all on 4th.

It continued poor for a week or so with just 1 Sprawler on 5th and 2 Sprawlers on 8th.  Slightly milder conditions on 11th produced Feathered Thorn and 2 Sprawlers and then the next evening produced my first Scarce Umber of the year along with Yellow-line Quaker.

Scarce Umber, North Elmham, 12th November


Seven moths the following night making it the best night for a fortnight - 2 Feathered Thorns and 5 Sprawlers.  Things continued to improve on 14th with Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, 2 December Moths, Pale November Moth, another unidentified Epirrita sp., 6 Feathered Thorns and 2 Sprawlers.

The species count was even better on 15th (though still short of double figures) with Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, December Moth, November Moth, another unidentified Epirrita sp., 3 Feathered Thorns, Scarce Umber, 5 Sprawlers, Yellow-line Quaker and Beaded Chestnut. Also the caddisflies Rhyacophila dorsalis and Limnephilus lunatus plus the mirid bug Pinalitus cervinus.

Things then returned to normal for November with Feathered Thorn, 3 Sprawlers and Yellow-line Quaker on 16th, an Epirrita sp. and a Sprawler on 16th.  No more moths for a few nights but these fungi - I can identify the Candlesnuff (I think) but not sure about the others.

Candlesnuff, Thetford, 19th November




unidentified mushrooms, 19th Thetford, November


The next moths were Sprawler and Black Rustic on 20th followed by 3 Feathered Thorns and a Sprawler on 21st, December Moth, Mottled Umber and Yellow-line Quaker on 22nd, just Feathered Thorn on 23rd, December Moth and Angle Shades on 24th, Feathered Thorn and Scarce Umber on 25th and December Moth on 26th.  Also caddisflies on 26th: 3 Limnephilus lunatus and Halesus radiatus.

Halesus radiatus, North Elmham, 26th November


My first Winter Moth of the winter appeared with a Sprawler on 27th.

Winter Moth, North Elmham, 27th November


Unsurprisingly given the subzero conditions, nothing on 28th or 29th.  The following night, last night, fell below zero too but started fractionally milder, enough for a Winter Moth to appear at one of the windows.

And that, for the first time in months, brings me bang up to date!

Sunday, 27 November 2016

All 3 November Moth aggregates

This Brick was new for the year on 20th October.

Brick, North Elmham, 20th October


Othe rmoths that night were Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, 8 November Moths, another unidentified Epirrita sp., 2 Green-brindled Crescents, Red-line Quaker, 2 Yellow-line Quakers and 2 Beaded Chestnuts.

The following night produced Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana, Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, 4 November Moths, 3 Feathered Thorns, Black Rustic, Green-brindled Crescent, Yellow-line Quaker and Lunar Underwing.  Also a Green Lacewing Chrysoperla carnea agg.

A visit to the coast on 22nd produced this Muntjac at Brancaster and a big gathering of 30+ Harlequin Ladybirds on sycamores in Burnham Deepdale churchyard - that count wasn't a very careful one so the true figure was undoubtedly very much higher.

Muntjac, Brancaster, 22nd October


That night the moth trap at home produced 3 November Moths, another unidentified Epirrita sp., Feathered Thorn, Black Rustic, 3 Green-brindled Crescents, Red-line Quaker and Yellow-line Quaker.

The following night delivered my first Sprawler of the year, along with 3 November Moths, 4 Feathered Thorns, 2 Black Rustics, 3 Green-brindled Crescents and 2 Yellow-line Quakers.

Sprawler, North Elmham, 23rd October


My first Autumnal Moth of the year appeared on 24th.  This is very much the scarcer of the 3 Epirrita species here with just 2 in 2014 and none in 2015 (cf. 95 November Moths and 26 Pale November Moths in 2014-15).

Autumnal Moth (male, gen det), North Elmham, 24th October


Also that night were 3 November Moths, Feathered Thorn, 3 Black Rustics, Green-brindled Crescent, Yellow-line Quaker and Beaded Chestnut. See how similar the first of these November Moths is to the Autumnal Moth - I wonder if anyone would have been brave enough to call these without checking their abdominal features...


November Moths (males, 8th sternite det), North Elmham, 24th October


25th produced 3 November Moths, Merveille du Jour and Beaded Chestnut.

Merveille du Jour, North Elmham, 25th October


This Weasel was lying dead in the middle of the coastal footpath at Stiffkey Greens on 26th.


dead Weasel, Stiffkey Greens, 26th October


Later that day I visited Wiveton Down LNR for the first time.  This leafhopper landed on my car as I got out of it - a Fagocyba sp. I think.  The options appear to be Facogyba cruenta and Fagocyba carri.  Seems that the former is commoner but mainly associated with Beech whereas the latter is associated with Oak - I recall seeing Oak there but don't remember any Beech.

Fagocyba sp., Wiveton Down LNR, 26th October


I suspected these fungi might be Sulphur Tufts, but James tells me they aren't - some kind of Rustgill Gymnopilus sp. apparently.


Rustgills sp., Wiveton Down LNR, 26th October


I finished the day at Friary Hills (Blakeney) where another mushroom initially defied identification attempts.  In the end I settled on Yellowleg Bonnet although the stem wasn't as vivid yellow as one of my books suggested. Again James has put me right - not Yellowleg Bennet (clearly quite different from the examples he photographed recently) but unfortunately not clear what it is from these photos.


unidentified mushroom, Friary Hills, Blakeney, 26th October


An Epirrita sp. was seen at Friary Hills too, but it landed too high up to reach so couldn't get a firm ID on it.  At home that night there were 4 November Moths, Feathered Thorn, 2 Green-brindled Crescents, Chestnut and 2 Beaded Chestnuts.

2 Pale November Moths on 27th were my first of the year and it was the best night for variety for a while including a couple species that I had thought were done for the year (Shuttle-shaped Dart and 2 Snouts).  The others were Ashy Button Acleris sparsana, 6 November Moths, Feathered Thorn, Black Rustic, 2 Green-brindled Crescents, Merveille du Jour, 3 Yellow-line Quakers and 3 Beaded Chestnuts.

Pale November Moth (male, 8th sternite det), North Elmham, 27th October


Also a Green Lacewing Chrysoperla carnea agg. and another Pinalitus cervinus.

Pinalitus cervinus, North Elmham, 27th October


The following night there were Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, 6 November Moths, another Pale November Moth, Feathered Thorn, Green-brindled Crescent, 2 Yellow-line Quakers and Beaded Chestnut.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Convolvulus Hawkmoth!

The biggest surprise on 1st October was Mottled Umber - a very early date for this species, 3.5 weeks earlier than my previous earliest.

Mottled Umber, North Elmham, 1st October


Also new for the year was this Yellow-line Quaker.

Yellow-line Quaker, North Elmham, 1st October


Not much else - the season really is coming to a close - just Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana, 3 Mallows, Common Marbled Carpet, Beaded Chestnut, 6 Lunar Underwings, Pink-barred Sallow and 2 Rosy Rustics.

I haven't been doing caddisflies lately as I've had such a big backlog with moths, but I retained one from this catch as it was obviously different from any I'd caught here this year.  It proved to be Halesus radiatus, actually one of the few distinctive caddisflies I'd identified from photos prior to owning the caddisfly key (not from here though, so this was new for the house).

Halesus radiatus, North Elmham, 1st October


Next day we wre down to 11 moths of 7 species, but these included one of my favourites, Green-brindled Crescent new for the year.

Green-brindled Crescent, North Elmham, 2nd October


The others were Mallow, Common Marbled Carpet, Black Rustic, Beaded Chestnut, 5 Lunar Underwings and Rosy Rustic.

A lunchtime stroll round Thornham produced Common Nettle-tap Anthophila fabriciana on 3rd, along with Southern Hawker and Common Darters.  That night's moths were Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana, Grey Pine Carpet, Large Yellow Underwing, 2 Black Rustics, Green-brindled Crescent, 6 Beaded Chestnuts, 5 Lunar Underwings, Rosy Rustic and Snout.

There was a bit more on 4th: 2 Diamond-back Moths Plutella xylostella, Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, Small Fan-footed Wave, 3 Common Marbled Carpets, 2 Large Yellow Underwings, 4 Black Rustics, Yellow-line Quaker, 4 Beaded Chestnuts, 11 Lunar Underwings, 3 Barred Sallows, Pink-barred Sallow, 2 Sallows, 2 Rosy Rustics and Snout.

Sallow, North Elmham, 4th October


Plenty of Red Admirals around when I was out and about around this time...


Red Admirals, Stiffkey, 5th October


That night's moths included the first Chestnut of the autumn and 2 Diamond-back Moths Plutella xylostella, Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, 3 Garden Rose Tortrixes Acleris variegana, Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, Mallow, Common Marbled Carpet, 2 Large Yellow Underwings, Lesser Yellow Underwing, 5 Black Rustics, Green-brindled Crescent, Brown-spot Pinion, 2 Beaded Chestnuts, 3 Lunar Underwings, 3 Pink-barred Sallows, Sallow and Angle Shades.

It's been a good autumn for Convolvulus Hawkmoth and I've been bombarded with messages and photos of these amazing beasts that people have been seeing.  Some people haven't just had one or two, they've had loads of them.  But I have not.  I have not seen one.  Not one.  Indeed, I have never seen one.  Right up to 6th October.

Then the next morning as I was going through the moth trap I looked in and saw this big grey head peering out from beneath one of the eggboxes...


Surely... gotta be... hasn't it?  I carefully lifted the eggbox out and turned it over... YES!!  At last!  A Convolvulus Hawkmoth!  And not only that but a fresh one!



Convolvulus Hawkmoth, North Elmham, 6th October


I know they're not all that rare - certainly not as rare as a lot of other moths I've recorded this year, but I reckon this was probably my most exciting moth moment this year - such a badly wanted and long-awaited moth and an absolute BEAST.

Nothing else mattered much but Red-line Quaker was new for the year and Beautiful Hook-tip was an unusual second-generation record.   Also 3 Diamond-back Moths Plutella xylostella, 3 Garden Rose Tortrixes Acleris variegana, 7 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, Common Marbled Carpet, Yellow-barred Brindle, 2 Large Yellow Underwings, Lesser Yellow Underwing, Setaceous Hebrew Character, 2 Black Rustics, 2 Green-brindled Crescents, Chestnut, 4 Beaded Chestnuts, 2 Lunar Underwings, Pink-barred Sallow, Sallow and Snout.

Red-line Quaker, North Elmham, 6th October


Also 5 Wasps, of which at least 2 were Common Wasps.

Feathered Thorn and Blair's Shoulder-knot were new for the year on 7th.  Other moths were Diamond-back Moth Plutella xylostella, 2 Garden Rose Tortrixes Acleris variegana, 6 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla, Mallow, Common Marbled Carpet, Grey Pine Carpet, Large Yellow Underwing, 3 Black Rustics, 2 Merveille du Jours, Chestnut, 7 Beaded Chestnuts, 4 Lunar Underwings, 2 Barred Sallows, Pink-barred Sallow, 3 Sallows and Snout.

Feathered Thorn, North Elmham, 7th October


Blair's Shoulder-knot, North Elmham, 7th October


Merveille du Jour, North Elmham, 7th October


The following night produced 3 Garden Rose Tortrixes Acleris variegana, 4 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, Mallow, Feathered Thorn, Black Rustic, Blair's Shoulder-knot, Green-brindled Crescent, Chestnut, 5 Beaded Chestnuts, 7 Lunar Underwings, Pink-barred Sallow and Sallow.

Not so many moths the next night: 2 Black Rustics, Blair's Shoulder-knot, Green-brindled Crescent, Merveille du Jour and Lunar Underwing. Even fewer on 10th - Green-brindled Crescent, Satellite and Beaded Chestnut.  The 11th wasn't much better with Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana, 2 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, 2 Green-brindled Crescents and Lunar Underwing.  Another Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea was at Burnham Overy Dunes on 12th and that night at home produced just 2 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, Lunar Underwing and Barred Sallow.

Things improved a bit on 13th with 2 Garden Rose Tortrixes Acleris variegana, Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, Rush Veneer Nomophila noctuella, Red-green Carpet, Feathered Thorn, Large Yellow Underwing, 2 Black Rustics, Red-line Quaker, Lunar Underwing, Pink-barred Sallow, Sallow and Angle Shades.

Epirrita season kicked off on 14th with the first new moth for the year in a week: 4 November Moths.  Also Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, Ashy Button Acleris sparsana, Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana, Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, Rush Veneer Nomophila noctuella, Feathered Thorn, 2 Large Yellow Underwings, Black Rustic, 6 Green-brindled Crescents, Satellite, 2 Beaded Chestnuts, Lunar Underwing and Sallow.

November Moth (male, 8th sternite checked), North Elmham, 14th October


No more Epirrita for a few days though,  15th produced 2 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana, Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, Feathered Thorn, Large Yellow Underwing, Black Rustic, 3 Green-brindled Crescents, Lunar Underwing and 2 Barred Sallows. On 16th 3 Light Brown Apple Moths Epiphyas postvittana, 2 Narrow-winged Greys Eudonia angustea, Red-green Carpet, 3 Green-brindled Crescents, Red-line Quaker, Yellow-line Quaker, Lunar Underwing and Barred Sallow. Just 4 moths on 17th: Green-brindled Crescent, 2 Yellow-line Quakers and Lunar Underwing; and only slightly better on 18th: Black Rustic, 3 Green-brindled Crescents, Chestnut and Lunar Underwing. 

Things picked up again on 19th with a return of Epirritas - 6 November Moths.  Also Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, Dark-triangle Button Acleris laterana, Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana, 2 Green-brindled Crescents and Pink-barred Sallow. Also 2 Pinalitus cervinus, the first time I recorded this mirid bug this year.