Saturday, 29 August 2015

Oblique Carpet in Blackwood

A nice surprise in this morning's trap in Blackwood ST171966 was this, my first Oblique Carpet, which Martin reliably informs me is the 21st record for VC35, along with at least 4 Small Phoenix (a record number in one trap for me). It makes a nice change from the hords of Large Yellow Underwings (I had a record 251 of those in the trap last Saturday morning!!).
In fact, come to think of it,  I haven't been recording as many Carpet species and numbers this year compared to last, is this the case elsewhere in VC35?

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Lighthouse Park

Ran the MV at home last night 27th. 97 moths of 21 macro & 7 micro species. Best by far & a lifer for me was this Jersey Tiger. Also of note was a Cochylis molliculana.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Imperial Park

While out on a coffee break at work tonight Monday 24th. checking under the security lights i noted a few Large Yellow Underwing, Setaceous Hebrew Character a Canary Shouldered Thorn & then this Red Underwing had me reaching for a pot.... a large pot.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Lighthouse Park

Been running the MV trap on the patio at home for last four nights while on the day shifts at work. Averaging around 100 moths per night. All the usual suspects paid a visit but had high counts of Large Yellow Underwing, L.B.B.Y.U

& Brimstone Moth. NFY included Scarce Bordered Straw, Shaded Broad-bar, Six Striped Rustic & 8 Old Lady. Last night also saw the 2nd Toadflax Brocade of the year, looks to be really fresh too maybe breeding in Gwent??

Friday, 21 August 2015

Three Generations and a Generator - or Border Patrol with an Old Lady at the Last Post. 20th August 2015

Sheila, Max and myself (3 generations of Dup├ęs) took a generator, microphone MV, Skinner actinic and some sugar to the western border of Monmouthshire, next to the River Rhymney at Parc Tredelerch fishing lake, off Lamby Way, Cardiff. Yes we were in Cardiff, but still in Monmouthshire! Another odd thing is that we had crossed the border, The River Rhymney, 4 times in the journey there!
We'd decided to go at the last minute as the rain was supposed to stop and it was a muggy night. It was already dark when we arrived at 9pm, but the rain did stop just as we were setting up. The moths started to come in quickly - a Smokey Wainscot, Flame Shoulder, Six-striped Rustic soon being joined by a female Oak Eggar.
Checking the sugar we found nothing until the last post, where there was an Old Lady feeding.

By 11pm, it was getting too windy and the moths had stopped coming in so we packed up. Altogether we had 47 moths of 21 species: 2 Smokey Wainscot, 11 Flame Shoulder, 2 Square Spot Rustic, 4 Six-striped Rustic, 1 Oak Eggar, 3 Common Rustic, 2 Setaceaous Hebrew Character, 3 Lesser Broad Bordered Yellow Underwing, 2 Straw Dot, 3 Large Yellow Underwing, 1 Sallow Kitten, 1  Latticed Heath, 1 Old Lady, 2 Drinker (both female), 2 Spectacle, 1 Elephant Hawk, 1 Common White Wave, 2 Shaded Broad Bar, 1 Dark Brocade, 1 Lesser Yellow Underwing and 1 Mother of Pearl. 
This was a scoping exercise to check out the site - I wasn't sure if the car park would be locked at dusk for example. If you do trap there its probably best to trap close to the car park as a group of 4 men turned up as we packed up and they definitely weren't fishermen. I think its a promising site though, with stands of common reed, rank grassland/ruderal habitat and plenty of trees.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

20th Anniversary at Crymlyn Bog NNR, Swansea

Today, 19th August, its exactly 20 years since myself and Martin J White, first ran my brand new, collapsible, aluminium Skinner trap at Crymlyn Bog NNR, Swansea. This was the 1st time that I had been moth trapping with a Mercury Vapour light. A couple of weeks previously we had camped on the Bonymaen side of Kilvey Hill in Swansea running a battery powered actinic trap. That probably isn't the best introduction to moth trapping (I can't remember a single moth we caught!), but I remember that night at Crymlyn Bog like it was yesterday. I had a key to the Visitor Centre as I was a Voluntary Warden there with good old CCW, so running a trap was easy. We recorded 95 species. The two I remember were a Peppered Moth and an Angle Shades! I'm sure we caught some much 'better' moths than this, but these really excited me because they were 'famous' moths! 
That night was the start of a really great partnership. I had the trap, generator and a car and Martin had the expertise. We trapped frequently for the next 3 years around Swansea, the Neath Valley and Gower, until I moved back to Newport at the end of 1998. 
A few weeks ago I realised that the 20th anniversary of the start of my moth trapping career was approaching and thought it would be great to go back to Crymlyn Bog with Martin to trap again. We went last night, the 18th, as the forecast was better than for the 19th. I  brought along 3 traps: a Skinner actinic, a Skinner MV and an MV on a microphone stand to place on a white sheet. I also brought along some 'sugar' in the hope of attracting an Old Lady or Red Underwing. We set the 3 traps up in a sort of Bermuda Triangle for moths with the microphone stand trap at the Visitor Centre, the actinic on the board-walk and the Skinner MV on the Old Dram Road, just past the Goat Moth Tree. I then remembered the sugar and painted it on gate posts and trees in between the Centre and the Goat Moth Tree.
One of the first moths to arrive at the microphone trap was a White-shouldered House Moth which we had probably disturbed from the Centre. It was soon joined by a Webb's Wainscot, proving that it wasn't just for micro moths! I had just been telling Martin how I had been trying to catch a Webb's Wainscot at Newport Wetlands for the past 15 years without success!

Webb's Wainscot

It was great to be running a trapping session again with Martin 17 years after we had last trapped together. The old team was back again and in top form, with Martin paying particular attention to the micro's. A Black Arches soon arrived and they kept arriving all night until we eventually had an impressive 12 of them dotted over the sheet.
The 'sugar' worked really well and about 20 minutes after dusk there were a Peach Blossom, 3 Copper Underwings, 3 Large Yellow Underwings and a Dark Arches feeding on the various posts and trees I had brushed it on. The only disappointment was that no Old Ladies deemed to turn up to the party.
We shut down the Skinner actinic, which we had placed near the end of the board-walk, at about 11pm as it was colder in this low-spot and we couldn't see any moths flying there then. We had just 5 moths of 4 species! A Brown China-mark, a Water Veneer, a Dingy Footman and 2 Agapeta hamana. With hind-sight it would have been better to have put this trap near the pond and under the shelter of some trees.
The Skinner MV had shut itself down when the generator had run out of petrol at  about 11.15pm, but there were still 16 species in there when we checked it at about 11.30pm. They were: Knot-grass, Small Rufous, Rosy Footman, Dingy Footman (5), Riband Wave, Sallow Kitten (2), Lime-speck Pug, Calamotropha paludella, Drinker (6), Yellow Tail, Common Carpet, Elephant Hawkmoth, Crescent, Six-striped Rustic, Haworth's Minor and a Garden Tiger (which was outside the trap and was lucky that I didn't tread on it). The Haworth's Minor got us quite excited because its not in the index of "The Moths of Glamorgan"! It is in the text however, with just 11 records.

Haworth's Minor

We finally shut down the Microphone Stand Trap at 1 o'clock and we had recorded 49 species, including 4 micro's that Martin took home to confirm their identity. High-lights were: a Rosy Footman, Green Arches, The Crescent (3), Triple-spotted Pug, Buff Footman (4), The Campion, Beautiful China-mark, Rosy Minor, Swallow Prominent, Peacock (2), Gold Spot and, just as we were packing up, a Poplar Hawkmoth. Six or more large bats had been feasting on the moths above the trap for most of the night, so I'm sure they had caught all the really rare ones!
It had been a great night with good company at one of my favourite sites.
Thanks Martin for getting me into moth trapping all those years ago, something which has given me so much pleasure for the past 20 years.
Thanks to Jamie Bevan, Senior Reserve Manager, NRW, for Crymlyn Bog NNR, for permission to trap and for giving me the keys to the Visitor Centre and car park.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Seaview Moths 16th August

Another good moth trapping night with 187 moths from 33 species, mostly common moths. New for us this year were a crescent (yes, us too!) a twin spotted wainscot and a straw underwing. The latter was very active and although we saw the bordered pale underwing the moth was anaesthetised in the fridge for the photo, so it is not visible sadly.
Diana and John

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Redhouse Barns and The Cross 11th Aug

I ran the MV at Redhouse and a Skinner Actinic in a large ditch filled with Reedmace approx 1km to the west. I first checked the Skinner and recorded 18 species, including an Elephant Hawkmoth, 2 Small Wainscots and 2 Crescents. I was disappointed not to catch any Bulrush Wainscots which I had caught here 2 years ago. This was the 2nd time I had tried here in 2 weeks.

The Crescent
Back at Redhouse I recorded 40 species, including one Broad Bordered Yellow Underwing and an Old Lady.

Old Lady

On the night of 12th, I ran the Skinner Actinic again, on a Reedmaced-up ditch approx 0.5km south of Redhouse and recorded one Bulrush Wainscot.

Bulrush Wainscot

August 19th is exactly 20 years since I started moth trapping, when I ran a trap at Crymlyn Bog NNR with my friend Martin J White. I arranged to trap there again on Wednesday, so I'll do a post on what we catch.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Small Ranunculus Larvae 

For the past 3 weeks I have been searching prickly lettuce plants for Small Ranunculus eggs and larvae. I found the first ones 30, on 29th July at Devon Place at the back of Newport Railway Station. The next day I found 95 in  Shaftesbury in the "wild flower" planted areas near and on the Harlequin Round-about.
Four 2nd instar larvae beside the dual-carriageway flyover in Shaftesbury

Fourth instar larva

Prickly Lettuce plants growing on the Harlequin Roundabout
These plants have now been strimmed - KD, 20th August.

 The following day I found 6 larvae on the round-about at Junction 26 of the M4.

Prickly Lettuce growing at Junction 26 of the M4

One 2nd instar larva

On 5th August I found five 1st instar larvae near The Maltings/ Old Town Dock lock next to the SDR. This was the 3rd time I had searched the plants here in 3 weeks, so I obviously missed the eggs on previous visits. I then found 7 at the side of the Cuckoo Bridge over the South Wales Mainline in Duffryn. There were only about 5 plants growing here, whereas last year there were hundreds. It shows how ephemeral some Prickly Lettuce habitat can be. I then found just five 1st instar larvae at the side of the A48 just west of Junction 28 of the M4. There were hundreds of plants growing here, but so few larvae.
Today, 9th August, I cycled to Walnut Tree Farm, St Brides. There were about 10 plants growing next to the car park ,but no eggs or larvae. Last year I found several here. Plants in Nash and Goldcliff I have searched, also had none.
If you see any prickly lettuce, its well looking for Small Ranunculus eggs and larvae. The eggs are a pinky-orange colour which blends in with the young flower buds and also solidified sap that has oozed from the plant. The larvae can be pale brown as well as green. It normally grows in freshly disturbed soil, "waste ground" or at the edge of pavements, car parks where it has escaped the attention of strimmers or spraying with herbicides. There are several other species of wild lettuce, such as Greater Prickly Lettuce and Wall Lettuce, but I have never found Small Ranunculus on these.
Small Ranunculus is a Biodiversity Action Plan Species for the City of Newport.

Redhouse Barns, 6th August 2015

I ran the MV and recorded 182 moths of 44 species, including a female Oak Eggar, a female Drinker, 2 Chocolate-tips, 3 Canary Shouldered Thorns, one Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing,  one Magpie, one Rosy Footman, one Small Wainscot, one Red Twin-spot Carpet, one Herald, 2 Pebble Prominent, 8 Rush Veneer, a Nut-tree Tussock, a Sallow Kitten, one Pale Prominent and one Swallow Prominent.

From left to right: Chocolate-tip, Oak Eggar, Blood Vein, Rush Veneer, Smokey Wainscot, Brimstone and Buff ermine.


Rosy Footman

Friday, 7 August 2015

SDR 6th August 2015

Cycling to work alongside the SDR near Newport Stadium, I noticed something on the cycle-path that could have been a caterpillar. I braked and came back to find it was a hawkmoth caterpillar in quite a mucky state. It was bright green, so I imeadiately thought it must be the green form of elephant hawkmoth caterpillar, but on closer inspection there were no false eye-spots. There were black and white stripes along its flank. It was a Privet Hawkmoth caterpillar. It was obviously looking for somewhere to pupate. I emptied out some grapes from a small tub I had for my lunch and put the caterpillar inside. I've always wanted to see a Privet Hawkmoth, but this one was far from the specimen I had imagined, but a great record never the less and hopefully I'll be able to see the adult when it hatches out next year.