Monday, 20 May 2019

Calm on the Mountain

I have stopped at Keeper's Pond on the Blorenge several times over the last few years to look for moorland moths, but each time it has been too windy to be productive. At long last I experienced perfect warm, calm conditions there on Sunday. The kids and I stopped on our way back from Ebbw Vale swimming pool, so I spent 15 minutes sweeping moths within sight of Johnny (fossicking for stones on the spoil tips) and Bea (listening to an audiobook in the car). Highlights were two strikingly patterned Micros: 3 of the Tortricid Argyrotaenia ljungiana are the first county record, although this is a common species known from 9 of the other Welsh counties, whilst 2 of the Gelechid Prolita sexpunctella, which is also known from 9 other Welsh counties, would have been new if a 1928 Llanthony specimen in the Hope collection hadn't been located last year by Stephen Palmer. A Beautiful Yellow Underwing flew past too.


Sunday, 19 May 2019

11th May

In and around Dewstow

A wander around the Dewstow area for a couple of hours produced some interesting results on the lepidoptera front.
Firstly I saw 14 butterflies covering 6 species. Having been to this particular site consistently for a few years now it's what I would expect to find but it's pleasing that both Grizzled Skipper and Brown Argus appear to be stable in this environment at the moment.  

Next I decided to tap around some hedges and to my surprise out came not one, but 2 Mocha moths within close proximity of each other. I already had one in a pot before the second one flew out, so a second was very welcome.
After checking my records through I have not encountered it at this site before.
Quite a few Treble-bar moths were ever present as well.
Wandering further a field and concentrating on Birch trees mainly, further discoveries were made, such as this Orange Footman partially clinging to a birch twig and leaf in the shade. Unusual to find one during the daylight hours I thought?
I took me quite some time to come up with anything operating within birch leaves but it was well worth it. A single larvae of Eriocrania semipurpurella (Early Purple) was found first. This before 4 mines of Eriocrania cicatricella (Washed Purple) turned up all together on the same small tree further down the track. This is highly likely to be a new site for this micro.
Ericrania cicatricella leaf mine

 You can see the two pale, curved larvae lying within the blotch mine on this birch leaf near the bottom edge. Often 2-4 larvae occupy the same leaf.
Finally further minutes looking around Birch trees brought about this caterpillar. Taking several photographs and looking it up, I've discovered the colourful 'Inchworm' caterpillar belongs to the Macro moth, Mottled Umber.
Mottled Umber 'inchworm'

A total of two of these were found fairly close by to each other, both on Birch. 

Sunday, 5 May 2019

23rd April

Busy at Cleddon Bog

A good productive evening at Cleddon Bog and the earliest I have visited here to moth trap.
One of the surprise visits to the light-trap tonight was Scarce Prominent (2nd encounter this year), which numbered 2 in total. I think and unbeknown to me, looking at the distribution maps it may have been recorded in this small square but when and where exactly I don't know.
Over 103 moths of 37 species turned up which kept me busy. Many were new to me here at Cleddon Bog simply because of the time of year of my visit.
There were Frosted Green once more at the trap which is starting to suggest that they are well scattered in the county and require just a few surrounding Oak trees to occupy a location because, Oaks are not exactly growing in abundance in this habitat.

 Second site this year for me for Scarce Prominent 
Least Black Arches
 Neofaculta ericetella (Heather Sober)
 Incurvaria pectinea (Pale Feathered Bright)
Semioscopis steinkellneriana (Dawn Flat-body)

Nice to find a few micro's turning up around trap now including these three above:
Neofaculta ericetella was very fresh along with a 'bright' Incurvaria pectinea of which I'm finding quite a few at different locations.
On the other scale this Semiocopis steinkellneriana looked to have been out flying for several weeks viewing it's condition, suggesting a flight season of possibly the end of March beginning of April. Perhaps the mild weather we had earlier had encouraged it out?

Friday, 3 May 2019

Hysterophora new for Dingestow

Two Hysterophora maculosana (Bluebell Conch) were flying actively in mid afternoon sunshine in the polytunnel at Dingestow Court on 29th April. I assume they wandered in from nearby bluebells, although these are the first I have seen here in 25 years mothing. Another one was in the polytunnel on 3/5. This is the 7th county record, following two last year (found by Nick Felstead and George Tordoff) and 4 pre-2000 records.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

18th April

Windy Wentwood

Fairly calm to start the evening here but winds did develop as the evening wore on.
The site I chose was quite protected by trees thankfully otherwise I might have had to pack up such was the winds strength over the hillside.
The night was productive however with potentially 53 moths of 24 species* (micro's tbc).
Six localised species and one Scarce B moth were included in the observations.
One of the best was this pristine Broom-tip (photo below), although I was surprised to encounter Scarce Prominent earlier in the year than my previous visit I made to this site in 2018. Numbers of Scarce Prominent were up to 5, two more than last year.

 Square Spot
 Scarce Prominent 

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Great Prominent (Peridea anceps) aberration

This spectacular aberration of Great Prominent was taken by my mother (Hazel Mitchell) in Tintern, on the night of 30th April.

From the lateral view in the image, you could be fooled (it certainly fooled me!) into thinking the moth was an Iron Prominent, only twice the size and with creamy-white hindwings.

Martin Honey kindly sent me a link the Aberrational and Subspecific Forms of British Lepidoptera mss by Goodson & Read, which is now on Biodiversity Heritage library website. From the description, this melanic form seems to be a good match for ab. nigrescens.

Sunday, 28 April 2019

March- April

New sites for Frosted Green

Since my first sightings of Frosted Green back in 2016 I've continued to look for the species presence at new additional sites.
Three more new locations have been discovered this term so far in 2019 bringing my total to 11.
Great Barnet's Wood (No.9) and now recently Cefngarw Wood (No.10) and Woolpitch Wood (No.11) All were a surprise as both contained very few Oaks.

These were low numbers at these locations but confirms their presence. Generally many sites do not have to my experience so far return large numbers, with totals ranging from 1-7.
The exception to this, to my knowledge, is around the Angiddy Valley. This area regularly turns up double figures if your timing is right. This year I had 25 at Ravensnest Wood which confirms its high density here following on from last year when I turned up an record 36.
It is doing exceptionally well here which is great news. Conditions and maintenance of woodland must be a factor along with the number of Oaks that are thriving on the slopes.