Sunday, 17 July 2011

Moth Night

This post is a little later than planned and takes in Friday mornings walk and Friday night Saturday morning, 'Moth Night'.
Friday morning was really quite pleasant, BULLFINCH was calling as I got out of the car and there was plenty of activity, after 20 minutes I'd recorded 26 species and hadn't left the car park! There was nothing amazing but a young GARDEN WARBLER called and had me deliberating as to what it was, it quite sounded quite finch like. There were also young CHIFFCHAFF and BLACKCAP milling around.

Help please, is it Keeled or Black Tailed?

Goldfinches have started posing all of a sudden.

One of the pairs of SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS was busy feeding and the songs of several SKYLARKS drifted up from the fields. By the lake, 1 SWIFT went over and 2 TURTLE DOVES posed in the dead branches of an Oak, unfortunately, although posing they weren't close enough for a photo. CORMORANTS were again evident with 1 flying east and later another 2 flying south, a surprise bird was a GREAT BLACK BACKED GULL which flew over with 3 HERRING GULLS.
So to Moth Night, so far we have managed at least one these in the first couple of years we have been trapping at the castle. It involves a couple of generators, 4 traps and lots of extension leads! The group consisted of Pete, Steve, Matt presently from Dungeness and myself.
We started setting up around 8pm, all the equipment just about fitting into the new National Trust truck.

Setting up

Choosing where to put the traps we considered the following, what the terrain was like, what trees are nearby, where the wind is coming from and how far will we have to walk between traps during the night. All that considered we chose under a very grand Oak, a coppiced clearing, a sheltered ride and a spot near the lake. All we needed to do was unwind the leads and get the generators going.
Ready to go

And we're off!

The forecast was for rain at some stage overnight so we weren't sure how long we would be trapping for. By about 10pm the first moths were starting to arrive, first up were a couple of micros followed by our first macro, Willow Beauty. We made the route between the traps into a bit of a circular walk and visited each one in turn, gradually it got busier and a few nice moths including several year ticks were added. Oak Eggar arrived early, a female that was much larger than I remembered.
Oak Eggar

More moths started to arrive

There were good numbers of Black Arches, a particularly striking moth, as was a Yellow Shell (see Pittswood Blog, Warren took a great photo of one last week). Species numbers steadily rose and by around 2.30am we had about 55 species, a few highlights were August Thorn, Scallop Shell, Lunar Spotted Pinion, Dingy Shell and Muslin Footman.
Scallop Shell, Dingy Shell and a few others

With a few short showers throughout the night we decided to pack up and timing is everything, we got back to the trap by the barn, our usual spot, and managed to record the moths here just before the heavens opened!By 3.30am we were on our way home. A total of 77 species was maybe less than we hoped for but it was still good. I think Steve and Matt were going straight to Steve's house to check his traps before heading to Dungeness, I was happy to get home to bed!


Phil and Mandy said...

Hi Alan, I must admit that I never stay up with my trap, we set it up and then check it out in the morning and ID over breakfast as a rule, some lovely moths there though. my friend peter lives in st margarets bay and he is also a moth man ( is a blog worth following, he is fairly new to it at the moment (blogging that is)

Marianne said...

Great post, Alan, nothing like a good moth night! I think your dragon is Black-tailed Skimmer, it looks too hefty-bodied for Keeled.

Alan Pavey said...

Hi Phil, Checking the moths out in the morning is what we usually do but unfortunately we couldn't leave the generators out in the wood overnight, just in case!
I'll checkout the blog, Thanks.

Hi Marianne, I really enjoy the moth nights, not that we do many. Thanks for the ID, I've never seen Keeled and it flew before I got a closer look, appreciate the help :-)

Warren Baker said...

I'm just sitting here in the gloomy evening Alan, but reading your post cheered me up :-)

Greenie said...

Alan ,
I would agree with Marianne re. the dragonfly being a Black-tailed Skimmer , and an over mature one too .
Keeled Skimmers are found in acidic bog/heathland habitat . I know they are at Hothfield Common , which might be their only site in Kent .

Alan Pavey said...

Hi Warren, Great stuff, hopefully the gloomy evenings won't last long :-)

Hi Greenie, Thanks, I think it was the lack of a really obvious black tail that fooled me.

Ken. said...

Hi Alan.
It is always good to see moths. Some people don't see that many, myself included, but when I do, I find them Fascinating.

Alan Pavey said...

Hi Ken, if you ever fancy an early start to come and have a look at what we get let me know :-)