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.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Foulden Common

My first night back after my trip to Cornwall was a poor one for moths with just Yellow-barred Brindle, Early Thorn and 2 Hebrew Characters.  The first of those was a new species for the year.

Yellow-barred Brindle, North Elmham, 8th April

There was also this tiny juvenile Common Earwig and, in the house, another Varied Carpet Beetle.

Common Earwig, North Elmham, 8th April

Sunshine the next day produced Brimstone butterflies at a couple of places and in the evening I headed off to have a look round Foulden Common.  This is a site I've never visited before but have heard it mentioned a few times in the context of mothing.  The exposed parts of the west side of the common were too breezy to be any good but I caught Brown Birch Slender Parornix betulae and Double-striped Pug here, along with the green and brown lacewings Chrysoperla canea and Hemerobius humulinus.

Brown Birch Slender Paronix betulae (male, gen det), Foulden Common, 9th April

Hemerobius humulinus, Foulden Common, 9th April

The eastern side was more sheltered and I netted another Double-striped Pug and an Early Purple Eriocrania semipurpurella.  The latter are quite hard to identify with certainty and although I had probably seen it before I hadn't managed to confirm any of the previous ones, so good to get one I was happy with at last.

Early Purple Eriocrania semipurpurella (female, gen det), Foulden Common, 9th April

Actually "gen det" simplifies it a bit too much - the ID was done through a combination of the hindwing scale width, the size and separaton of the sensoria (basically holes) on the bottom of the abdomen and a tiny little bit of its genitalia.

This leafhopper was a very common species, Empoasca vitis.

Empoasca vitis, Foulden Common, 9th April

As it got dark I decided conditions weren't good enough to bother setting up the MV light but did another quick circuit of the common with a headtorch.  This confirmed my suspicion that conditions were not good as all I added were Water Carpet and Early Thorn.  Oh, and a few click-beetles flying around which all looked the same and the one I retained for checking proved to be Dalopius marginatus.

Dalopius marginatus, Foulden Common, 9th April

Not many moths at home either, although 3 different micros made for a change.  These were Streaked Flat-body Depressaria chaerophylli (new for the year and a species I've only seen twice before) Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana and another new one for the year, Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea.  Macros consisted of Shoulder Stripe, 2 Streamers and 3 Hebrew Characters.

Streaked Flat-body Depressaria chaerophylli (female, gen det), North Elmham, 9th April

Other insects in the trap were a Black Sexton Beetle and a new hoverfly species for me, Platycheirus albimanus.  Most examples of this genus (which I'd never encountered before) are characterised by the modifications on the front tarsi which you can see in the image below (the yellow feet sticking out behind the eyes).

Platycheirus albimanus, North Elmham, 9th April

The following night another Streaked Flat-body Depressaria chaerophylli was the highlight.  Muslin Moth was new for the year and there were also Streamer, Early Thorn, Oak Beauty and 2 Hebrew Characters. A German Wasp was also new for the year.

Streaked Flat-body Depressaria chaerophylli (male, gen det), North Elmham, 10th April

Muslin Moth, North Elmham, 10th April

German Wasp, North Elmham, 10th April

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

Monday, 3 April 2017

And then it all happened...

Mothing at home this year has been fairly uneventful with no new moths for the house until Thursday night.  Recently numbers have picked up but variety has remained low - even new moths for the year have been hard to come by.  Then Thursday night happened.

The clear highlight was a Grey Pine Ermel Ocnerostoma friesei - a tiny grey moth that isn't much to look at but is a great record, and my first.  There are just five previous Norfolk records, all from 2011 and 2014 and all from one observer and one location (Dersingham).

Grey Pine Ermel Ocnerostoma friesei (male, gen det), North Elmham, 30th March

Another good moth was Scarce Alder Slender Caloptilia falconipennella - my second ever (excluding the one I mentioned in my last blog post - I don't count moths if they're brought to me) and first for my garden.

Scarce Alder Slender Caloptilia falconipennella (male, gen det), North Elmham, 30th March

In the same genus and also new for the year and one I've not seen many times before was White-triangle Slender Caloptilia stigmatella.

White-triangle Slender Caloptilia stigmatella, North Elmham, 30th March

Another one I've not often seen and hadn't caught here since 2015 was Pale Pinion.

Pale Pinion, North Elmham, 30th March

I also missed Water Carpet at home last year, although I see plenty of them elsewhere.  Good to get it on the garden year list.

Water Carpet, North Elmham, 30th March

I always enjoy my first Purple Thorn of the year.  The photos taken using flash (first two) showed the warmth of the colours well but I noticed they didn't show the white lunar marks as clearly as they looked in life (especially on the upper hindwing), so I took a couple of photos without using flash too (bottom two).

Purple Thorn, North Elmham, 30th March

Everyone loves a Streamer - another new species for the year.

Streamer, North Elmham, 30th March

More routine new species for the year were Many-plumed Moth Alucita hexadactyla and Double-striped Pug.

Many-plumed Moth Alcuita hexadactyla, North Elmham, 30th March

Double-striped Pug, North Elmham, 30th March

Other moths in the trap were 2 Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana, 2 Common Plumes Emmelina monodactyla, Brindled Pug, 3 Early Thorns, 4 Small Quakers, 5 Common Quakers, 9 Clouded Drabs, 9 Hebrew Characters and 4 Early Greys.  Also 3 Black Sexton Beetles, what looked like another Ophion scutellaris (Ichneumon) and 3 Green Lacewings (my first here this year) at least one and probably all 3 of which were Chrysoperla carnea.

Friday night was back to more or less normal with a few moths of mainly the same species as normal, although Brindled Beauty was a nice addition to the garden year list.

Brindled Beauty, North Elmham, 31st March

The others were Water Carpet, 2 Early Thorns, Small Quaker, 3 Clouded Drabs, 9 Hebrew Characters and 2 Early Greys. Also a couple of Black Sexton Beetles.

Friday, 31 March 2017

A new beetle, ichneumon and sawfly but little moth excitement

I haven't done any updates for a few days, largely because there hasn't been much to say - until last night.  More of that later, but here's a catch-up first of what's turned up in the trap since last Monday.  The highlights were 2 Ruddy Flat-bodies Agonopterix subpropinquella (23rd and 26th), my third and fourth ever and new for the year and a Lead-coloured Drab (27th).

Ruddy Flat-body Agonopterix subpropinquella, North Elmham, 23rd March

Ruddy Flat-body Agonopterix subpropinquella, North Elmham, 26th March

Lead-coloured Drab, North Elmham, 27th March

Here are the details of what I trapped each night:

  • Last Monday 20th - 2 Common Quaker, 5 Hebrew Characters and a Chestnut.

  • Tuesday 21st - March Moth, 2 Dotted Borders, 2 Common Quakers, 4 Hebrew Characters and 2 Early Greys.

  • Wednesday 22nd - 2 Early Thorns, Oak Beauty, 3 Clouded Drabs, Twin-spotted Quaker, 6 Hebrew Characters and Early Grey.

  • Thursday 23rd - Ruddy Flat-body Agonopterix subpropinquella, Common Quaker, 10 Hebrew Characters and Early Grey.  Also a Varied Carpet Beetle in the house.

  • Friday 24th - Oak Beauty, Dotted Border, Small Quaker, Common Quaker, 4 Clouded Drabs, 2 Hebrew Characters and Early Grey.  Also a Badger along the B1145 not far from Worthing.

  • Saturday 25th - 6 March Moths, Brindled Pug (new for the year here), 5 Small Quakers, Common Quaker, Clouded Drab and 11 Hebrew Characters.  Also 8 Brimstone butteflies seen at 7 sites during the day and, at Alderford Common, I identified the sawfly Ametastegia glabrata for the first time and had flight-only views of my first Bee Fly of the year (presumably Dark-edged Bee Fly but I didn't confirm).

Agonopterix subpropinquella, Alderford Common, 25th March

  • Sunday 26th - Ruddy Flat-body Agonopterix subpropinquella, March Moth, Oak Beauty, 7 Small Quakers, 4 Common Quakers, Clouded Drab, 10 Hebrew Characters and 4 Early Greys.  Also a Red Fox on the local patch.

  • Monday 27th - Early Thorn, Oak Beauty, Small Quaker, Lead-coloured Drab, 3 Common Quakers, 4 Clouded Drabs, Twin-spotted Quaker and 8 Hebrew Characters.

  • Tuesday 28th - Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana, Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla, 2 Early Thorns, Oak Beauty, 2 Small Quakers, 2 Common Quakers, 2 Clouded Drabs, Twin-spotted Quaker, 2 Hebrew Characters and Early Grey. Also the ichneumid wasp Ophion scutellaris, the first time I have identified this species.

Ophion scutellaris, North Elmham, 28th March

  • Wednesday 29th - 3 Common Flat-bodies Agonopterix heracliana, Dotted Border, 2 Small Quakers, 5 Common Quakers, 2 Clouded Drabs, 2 Twin-spotted Quakers, 3 Hebrew Characters and 3 Early Greys.  Also Common Earwig new for the year as were 3 Black Sexton Beetles.

Black Sexton Beetle, North Elmham, 29th March

Yesterday at Burnham Overy I saw my first Buff-tailed Bumblebee of the year.

 Buff-tailed Bumblebee, Burnham Overy, 30th March

In the evening I didn't have time to go far and set up moth-trapping properly (except in the garden of course) which is a shame as it was a good night.  I did have just enough time to wander round a couple of local sites with Dave looking for moths in torchlight.  It was pretty unsuccessful really - Shoulder Stripe at Creaking Gate Lake and March Tubic Diurnea fagella at Honeypot Wood, plus a few moths that we failed to catch and identify.  Lacewings were in evidence, all those that were identified being Chrysoperla carnea.

Chrysoperla carnea (male), Honeypot Wood, 30th March

The one thing that made the effort worthwhile was a new beetle species for me, Dromius quadrimaculatus.

Dromius quadrimaculatus, Bittering, 30th March

After that inauspicious start to the evening I was very pleased with the contents of my moth trap this morning... but I'll save that for another post.

Dave brought me a couple of moths that Andrew Duff had collected from Woodbastwick on 27th March.  One which he thought I'd be particularly interested in was an Agonopterix sp.  Its pattern resembled Agonopterix heracliana but could also be ciliella but the overall colour was extraordinary - strong pinkish tones especially along the sides of the forewings.  Agonopterix heracliana can show a few pink scales but I have never seen anything remotely close to this before. Anyway, I did the business and it proved to be a female Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana.  So not an unusual species but definitely an unusual appearance.

Common Flat-body Agonopterix heracliana (female, gen det), collected Woodbastwick by Andrew Duff, 27th March

Scarce Alder Slender Caloptilia falconipennella (female, gen det), collected Woodbastwick by Andrew Duff, 27th March