Friday, 17 July 2020

A wet evening, but productive

27th June 
Ravensnest Wood

Kept watching the forecast for this evening as some rain showers were scattered around. Was keen to go out so took the risk. It appeared that they would avoid Chepstow for sure but it was ever changing  and I wanted to go more to the north to Ravensnest Wood which may place me under more risk.
Decided I'm going and packed the umbrella. A good start regarding no rain, although moths were slow to arrive on site.

Acleris hastiana (Sallow Button)

Northern Spinach

Although slow it was good, as I had already collected Acleris Hastiana which I was pleased about before my first ever sighting of a Northern Spinach.
Soon though a light shower arrived followed by a more prolonged spell lasting about 40 minutes or so. It got a bit heavy at one point so I retired to my vehicle, placing the brolly over the trap.
A let up in the rain eventually prompted me to have a look at what was happening and duly I found a very nice male Gold Swift originally in very good condition, however he had turned over and had gotten stuck slightly with regards to his wing on the wet ground sheet. To my advantage perhaps he was still here, nether the less wing markings were intact despite damp, so I placed him out the rain for now to dry out. It follows up a sighting I made about a year ago in the same wood of a female further down towards the Angiddy river section of this wood.

Phylloporia bistrigella (Striped Leaf-cutter)

Although not a huge amount of moths followed on after, there were two more exciting notables for me tonight.
The rain had stopped but you would not have thought so with the breeze disturbing branches and shedding their drops of rain onto the ground sheet and trap. Eventually all went quite so I peered underneath the umbrella only to spot a nice, tiny, micro. This looked interesting and would have to be investigated further back home. The outcome after photographs and a look-up, was a completely new moth to me in the form of Phylloporia bistrigella (Striped Leaf-cutter) which apparently likes Birch.

Waved Carpet

Several more moths arrived later but it seemed quiet, so was about to pack up when this fabulous Waved Carpet turned up. I have only seen it a few times before and took me by surprise but made up for the effort battling against the weather this evening. 

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Plenty of interest at Barnet's Wood

23rd June- Great Barnet's Wood

A good nights return for moths in this woodland tonight with 105 moths of 48 species after now being allowed to survey after the Covid-19 lockdown.

I specifically targeted Scarce Hook-tip but knew the season was running a least a few weeks advanced at this stage, after some very warm and dry April and May months.
A slow start soon became much busier but not to the point of overwhelming, a controlled steady flow of various moths.
I had not bargained for Spectacle to arrive, or a Beautiful Golden Y although I had seen it nearby before. A Barred Straw made an entrance, something that was not expected in thick woodland, more like open grassland areas, heath, small open woods.

Barred Straw (above) and Oecophora bractella Gold Base Tubic (below)

With all these distractions I had forgotten about why I was here primarily until a Scarce Hook-tip dropped down from a Lime just before midnight BST, and made its way around the light via the white ground sheet. It only stayed for less than two minutes but proved it was using the trees here as a base. It reminded me of a another situation when at around midnight a single Scarce Hook-tip made its way to the trap but only spent a brief time on the ground at another site a few years ago.
It may add a little more evidence that this species likes to remain in the mid to upper tree canopy mainly. Surveys conducted for larvae in upper stories in 2014 and 2016 by George Tordoff and NRW may add credence that it's reluctant to make its way 'downstairs' too often if in low numbers.
In contrast though,  I have had nights where it has been very interested in the light and come in good numbers but maybe this only occurs in the right conditions.

Marasmarcha lunaedactyla (Crescent Plume)

For micro's the surprise was another sighting of a Oecophora bractella (Gold-base Tubic this year at another new site for me and probably the vice county. This joins up more dots in the local vicinity and suggests it's more established in the southeast than I previously thought.

The best was left to last when an unusual looking 'Plume' arrived. This I captured quite easily but then when I wanted a closer look it took off like a rocket into the darkness. Thankfully I spotted it again at the light and this time it was not going to surprise me with it's escapologist antics.
A headtorch browse through my book indicated a Crescent Plume, Marasmarcha lunaedactyla.
A localised micro which feeds on Restharrow which prefers grassland or coastal areas.
It does not fit here, in the woodland but, not too far away there is a 'nose' of grassland area that pushes NNW into the woodland between Bishop's and Great Barnet's woods and this could be the area that this Restharrow flower is established.

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Monmouthshire Dragonfly Update

Like Moth recording, it's exciting times for Dragonfly recording in Monmouthshire. New species are arriving as they spread north and west with global warming. Steve Preddy is the new Monmouthshire, VC35, Odonata Recorder. He has produced an email Recording up-date. Email Steve if you want to be on his mailing list:
Steve Preddy <>

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Read the instructions...

Having been given a macro lens for my birthday, I've been re-photographing everything new in the trap. In today's last batch was a little yellow geometrid that refused to show its good side. An hour after finishing the others, and with the sun dropping in the west, I started flipping through the book to see what it might be: Spinach? Barred Yellow? Small Yellow Wave? "Dingy Shell: always rests with wings closed". WHAT!!!!

At least I worked it out before sunset, and it seems to have filled a space in the Gwent distribution map.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Carpatolechia fugitivella- Brand new micro for Vice County 35. 

Carpatolechia fugitivella (Elm Groundling)

20th June
Traphill Wood, Mounton

After watching the weather radar for some time this early evening I decided I would get a quick trapping session in, at a local wood. Rain was expected to arrive just before 1am BST on the 21st for a couple of days now and this evening there was no change in the forecast whatsoever- it was far out to west of Chepstow and would definitely arrive close to the time predicted.
This would give me maybe a 2 an a half  hour slot to gain some information on Lepidoptera at Traphill Wood.
A quick setup and switch-on initially didn't spark too much interest. Interest in the light appeared slow and was not too forthcoming on the moth front but did pick up slowly to give a final total of 47 moths of 28 species before I had to frenetically pack-up the trap as heavy raindrops started to fall at around 12.40am.
A couple of localised macro's appeared before the rain with a Treble Brown Spot and a very nice Round-winged Muslin of which I've only seen twice before. It's the first I've seen in a woodland habitat though.
Round-winged Muslin

Eudonia delunella and Nemapogon clemeatella were the best of the micro's with another obscurely marked micro in the pot pending photographs for an ID.

Nemapogon clematella (Barred White Clothes Moth)

This micro I photographed and sent off to Sam Bosanquet and hoped it might come to something.
I actually thought it had water damage at the base end towards the termen which had deflected away the possibility of  ID but did find it odd when the two I potted up were identically marked in the same place and they were captured before any rain fell.
Sam put forward a possibility, but wanted another expert opinion in the form of Stephen Palmer to look over this obscurely marked micro for a positive identification.
The final result was positive for an identification with an Carpatolechia fugitivella (Elm Groundling). This immediately made this a new find for me but most importantly added a new micro moth to the Vice County 35 List.

The micro apparently relies on Elm and Wych Elm for it's foodplant which is fairly common I think in the county. Flight season is in June and July mainly for the adult but can be seen in August.
The raised scale tufts is reliable indicator for this species. 

My thanks to Sam Bosanquet and Stephen Palmer for their work in getting this micro identified. 

Sunday, 28 June 2020

A marvellous, tiny, Nemapogon Keonigi

15th June Chepstow Town

Early this evening I decided I would get some fresh air by looking outside in the back garden to see how the flowers were developing.
Spending a few minutes out I came back down the steps only to see a small moth meandering around mid-air in a shaded part of the garden. Racing back in to collect the net I managed to capture this micro. The outcome after a few photographs and a long search online, (for it was not listed in my moth book), was what I thought to be a Nemapogon koenigi.

Nemapogon keonigi (White-speckled Clothes Moth)

A check with Sam Bosanquet confirmed and he revealed Vice County 35 has only 'a handful of records' of this tiny micro. It apparently starts flying late afternoon onwards, and into the night and feeds on Bracket fungi or rotting wood with a National status of Scarce B.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Big game: worth getting up for

Heavy rain woke me at two on Saturday morning, so I was even more drowsy than usual when I went down to close the GMS trap. That changed abruptly when I saw what was on - not yet in - the trap… Careful stalking soon had it safely potted in the fridge. Not only did the trap contain our first ever scarlet tiger, it had the first four elephants of the year, too :)