Saturday, 27 January 2018

December 2017-

Deceivingly productive

Many people but not all, have packed away traps by this time of year and resigned themselves to armchairs for the winter months.
There are a select few that continue to search and I have decided to follow suit and keep looking for moths as a experimental project.
I had tried it last year and came up with a few moths and was of the opinion that the mothing season does not grind to a halt completely.
Some moths do overwinter, some emerge even on the much cooler days, and occasionally some moths are found in homes, sheds and outbuildings. All is not entirely dead quiet in the lepidoptera world yet, as one might think.
With December 2017 I continued to trap when possible between adverse weather, albeit with a few missed opportunities and surprisingly came up with figures of 140 moths of 14 species.
I was taken aback by these figures and equally very pleased with the result given the effort I put in plus backing up initial thoughts from 2016.
12 were macro's, some of which fly at this time of year and a few Autumn hanger-on's.
Two of the 14 species seen were overwintering micro's, one of Scarce A category, so it's definitely worth having an eye open even on the milder days.

 The appropriately named Winter Moth, which can be found quite commonly throughout the winter period.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

3rd December 2017


A surprisingly productive trapping session at a little known site early in December produced 63 moths of 9 species.
A bit of a 'off-the-cuff' moment to trap here was quite rewarding and quite possibly a timely visit after several frosts.
I had considered the site way back in April but after completely forgetting about it in the frenetic escalating pace of life and fitting in other projects in between it got put back until today, in early December.
It was not until I drove towards it that I decided to have a quick survey to see if it was possible to trap here in the practical sense. It seemed alright but I did not expect much to turn up.

Arriving late afternoon to set up, a steady stream of  moths soon arrived nearly as soon the light got switched on which was encouraging.
Late Autumn and Early Winter moths turned up as expected with Winter Moth (21) and December Moth (32) making up the majority of the 63 total.

Others included a Brick, Feathered Thorn, Mottled Umber, Spruce Carpet, Chestnut, November Moth agg. and most definitely the highlight of the session as it was a first for me, was a Scarce Umber.

Its another moth that is classified as common according to the National UK status.
From my personal perspective I can't say that it is common at all, even though I have put my myself in the correct habitats and only found one so far. Maybe its just bad luck or poor timing in hindsight.
Overall there are scattered records in the county and I suspect it is more likely 'widespread and scattered' and in 'low frequency' in the county but without records to hand I do not know.

An immediate thought comes to mind over the word common used to describe this moth's status.

I don't know anybody else out there but I expect the word common to be used to describe anything in higher frequency numbers at possibly at least 2-5 in number or even more.
I don't want to get into a great debate about this but I find the definition 'common' to be not a true reflection of status at times. I'm finding difficult to understand as it turns up all to often when looking up a moths status.
It's an odd concept because 'Common' could represent 15-20 individuals or just one single moth that turns up in a single Ordinance survey square. Perhaps 'Widespread and frequent' or 'abundant' and 'Widespread and in Low numbers' might tidy things up, who knows.

I'm sure many other 'moth trappers' or even 'birders' (if the same applies) out there will have come across this situation all to often over the years of surveying I suspect.