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.

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