Thursday, 30 August 2018

18th August

Ninewells Wood, Cleddon

Eventually got to trap in Ninewells Wood once again after been thwarted by the rain last time out.
I never get huge numbers of anything here at this site but there is always something of interest that turns up.
I also have not really trapped a great deal in August overall so there could be great potential to add something extra.

A better quieter evening here saw over thirty species arrive with a few 'localised' species.
Black Arches was again present here (seen in 2017) and I believe if my maths are correct that I have seen 126 of this species this year in what seems a very long extended season for this moth.

The best macro for me by far was Sharp-angled Carpet. I not seen one since my early embryonic stages of looking for butterflies and moths in the county way back in 2011 when I disturbed one alongside a track just under Grey Hill in Wentwood. I managed to get a small opportunity to get a photograph whilst it settled on bracken -enough for Martin Anthoney to confirm. It's a long time to not see something and gives you an air of excitement when you see one again, not unlike a new discovery, a new species to add to your list.

For the micro side of things, I quite enjoyed seeing Ypsolopha dentella (Honeysuckle Moth) for the second time this year, now at two different sites. It should be more common given the foodplant but I'm not sure if it's selective at light traps or just watches at a distance where possibly I have just not picked it up. I'm certainly in the right habitat if nothing else.

The other interesting micro was Caloptilia falsella (Chequered Grass-veneer).
Quite eye-catching for a Crambinae moth within the group. It was supposedly localised/uncommon on the moth list. It must have spread quite rapidly, colonising throughout the southern half of Britain (apart from Cornwall) through the Midlands and even further towards the north quite recently because its status has changed to 'common'. Some vice counties are still reporting it uncommon so I wonder it really is that widespread.


Monday, 27 August 2018

Heath Rustic at Dingestow - Macro #400

When I arrived at my MV at 05:30 (trapping at Dingestow 26th August) I found more than 150 wasps buzzing around the lamp and inside the trap. Although I get 10+ wasps most nights in autumn, I have never had such numbers, and briefly considered switching off the light and retreating to bed.  I'm glad I didn't!
Star among ca. 30 species was Dingestow's first Heath Rustic, which was presumably blown here from the Blorenge/Garnclochdy ridge on strong westerlies.  This was my 400th Dingestow Macro, and the 930th moth species here.  Supporting cast came in the form of a very late (2nd generation?) Green Silver-lines, a Lilac Beauty, a Pale Eggar and a Vine's Rustic.  Dingestow's first big dung beetle - Geotrupes spiniger - was also in the trap.  What a night! 



Friday, 24 August 2018

12th August

Quietly surprised in the drizzle near Itton

My intended destination this evening was Ninewells Wood but this was scuppered by a spell of moderate rainfall not long after I turned up. I had checked the rainfall radar prior to leaving and it was not tracking to this area, so I was a little miffed. I gave it a chance to clear but it seemed to be persistent and darkness was falling. I had not 'set up' so I started the engine and headed back towards Chepstow hoping the rain would abate as I got closer. Thankfully it did to a light drizzly format and this helped me make a decision to try a new wood. I had been here in the day, however had not placed a light-trap in here despite making a mental note of it. The wood lies between Devauden and Itton and is predominately larch-based so I was not hoping for much at Cefngarw.
A light drizzle intermittently came and went through the evening here and to my surprise a few of the more notable moths turned up alongside the common ones.
A single Mocha (rarely see them turn in 2's), Buff Footman, Rosy Footman and a Devon Carpet were the notables but I did wonder about a strange looking black, grey and white moth.
I stood there and worked it out under a now clearing sky, flicking the pages of the book through to return back to Black Arches. It had to be Black Arches however, this was the 122nd Black Arches I had seen this year but never had I seen one like this with the greyish markings above the main zig-zagging white cross-band.
It's good to come across variation's to keep you on your toes to make sure you are seeing the right species.

Black Arches- a less common variation perhaps

A few micro's braved the spots of rain of which I quite liked seeing Catoptria pinella, and what I think are Epinotia trigonella and the now corrected Lathronympha strigana (thanks George) amongst the generally expected woodland dwellers. I'm sure somebody out there will correct me if they are anything different.

 Epinotia trigonella

Lathronympha strigana

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Drizzly August nights

Warm, drizzly conditions meant a return to large numbers of moths to MV at Dingestow following a couple of quieter weeks. Sorting through hoards of late summer's boring brown Noctuids (eg 180 Large YU, 80 Setaceous HC, 75 Heart & Dart & 35 Flame Shoulder on 20/8) produced several nice moths.  Highlights were Ash Pug (new for Dingestow), 2 Antler Moth (2nd Dingestow record) and 1 Treble-bar (6th Dingestow record) on 20th August, and 1 Chevron (3rd Dingestow record) on 22nd.

I made the mistake of bringing 1 Antler Moth back from Carmarthenshire to photograph on 19th August, and then released it in the garden on 20th.  The first Antler Moth I found in the trap the following morning was of identical size and (near) identical patterning, and I had to assume this was a re-trap of the imported moth; disappointing as I had only ever seen one Antler Moth at Dingestow before, in 2003.  I was therefore overjoyed to turn over another egg box to find a big female Antler Moth, which was definitely a wanderer rather than an import!

Thursday, 16 August 2018

4th August

Rogiet Moor

A late decision to set a trap up at Rogiet Moor this evening was well worth it.
The evening was fairly quiet weather-wise but it did become damp after midnight.
There were no wading birds on the estuary for the tide was approaching its high point although I did see a flock fly across the waters late evening.
With the moths, a total of 36 species put in an appearance during the time I was there.
Lime-speck Pug, Small Clouded Brindle, Smoky Wainscot and a Small Seraphim were unexpected on the macro side but the micro's drew more interest from my perspective. Some I had only seen once or twice before whilst some were completely new encounters.
Small Seraphim

'Knot-horns' seemed to be flavour of the last 10 days with several turning up at two different sites.
Here three species of Knot-horn were seen including Acrobasis advenella (Grey Knot-horn), a very nice Homoesoma sinuella (Twin-barred Knot-horn), (new to me) and my second encounter with the localised Nephopterix angustella (Spindle Knot-horn). This was really unexpected but there most be spindle in and around the hedges here somewhere.
Homoesoma sinuella (Twin-barred Knot-horn)

A second encounter within 3 weeks of the Scarce B categorised micro Gynnidomorpha alismana (Water-plantain Conch) was great as it backs-up its presence here at this site. This individual was much better marked than the first.
Gynnidomorpha alismana (Water-plantain Conch)

The best of the lot was a micro that nearly got thrown into the re-cycle bin on my computer as I had not much idea. I had a think about it and ultimately decided to have a play with light levels on the photograph to reveal better detail, Thankfully enough detail came through for me to put forward a suggestion. Suffice to say my suggestion wasn't correct but in a way I'm glad it wasn't, for Sam got in touch to inform me that it was Phalonidia affinitana (Large Saltmarsh Conch).
The second line of the mail was rather interesting...Only one other sighting at Peterstone in 1998 by Sam himself, so nearly a generation has come and gone before anybody has seen it again.
A very productive and rewarding night all in all with a rarely seen micro in Gwent the icing on the cake.  
Phalonidia affinitana (Large Saltmarsh Conch) 
2nd ever sighting in Vice county 35 with a 20 year gap in the records database. 

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Two gen dets

I have never dissected a Common Rustic agg. from Dingestow before, but the appearance of a tiny black individual with strongly white stigmas at MV last night (8/8) tempted me to try for Lesser Common Rustic.  Sure enough, its Clavus was weakly sclerotized, with no sign of teeth at all.  There appear to be just 1 or 2 previous gen. det. records of this species from VC35, although I don't think that anyone else is checking Common Rustics.


More genuinely notable was a Caryocolum that came to actinic at Dingestow Court on 26/7.  I wasn't sure which member of this tricky genus it would be, but dissection revealed the very distinctive male genitalia of C. fraternella.  Although this is a common species in much of England, it has very few Welsh records and was new for VC35.

Pretty than either was my first Orange Swift of the year.

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Jersey Tiger at Dingestow

I ran the MV at Dingestow Court on 3rd August, which produced a reasonable range of 65 late summer moth species including my first Olive here since 2007 (no Double Kidney since 1999) and first Wax Moth (also) since 2007, plus Slender Pug, White-spotted Pug, Figure-of-80, 2 Poplar Hawkmoth, Dark Sword-grass Caloptilia robustella and Dichrorampha petiverella
This was good, but things got much better when I noticed a black and white striped shape inside the greenhouse (the other side of the house from the MV, so nothing to do with my trapping) mid-morning.  I have been hoping for a Jersey Tiger at Dingestow since the species started appearing in south Wales, but I really wasn't expecting one so soon.  Just like the Hornet Clearwing that was my last new Macro for Dingestow, this was a life first as well as a home patch first!  The Dingestow list moves on to 397 Macro; 926 Moths.


Thursday, 2 August 2018

Marsh Mallows at Goldcliff

Recent discoveries of larvae of the Gelechid Pexicopia malvella in seedheads of Marsh Mallow on Gower and near Llanelli led me to check the strong colony of Marsh Mallows at Goldcliff Pill.  Finding the larvae was remarkably easy: many unripe seedheads had a brown spot on them (on the seedhead in the photo it's at 10 o'clock from the middle), and opening them with my fingernails revealed a plump, pink-dotted larva.  Job done, I thought, but Steve Palmer from the Gelechid Recording Scheme pointed out that things are not so straightforward.  Another Gelechid, Platyedra subcinerea, feeds in the seedheads of other Mallows, and its larvae should be mature now, whereas those of Pexicopia should not begin feeding until late August.  Either species would be new for Gwent, but which one is present at Goldcliff?  Solutions include collecting some affected Marsh Mallow shoots and breeding on some larvae to adulthood, or attempting to catch adult moths with a Heath Trap among the Mallows, neither of which is entirely easy.

My visit to Goldcliff produced a few other Micros: 3 Phyllocnistis saligna from a Crack Willow, mines of Stigmella speciosa on Sycamore, Argyresthia pruniella from Cherry and Yponomeuta rorella from Willow.  Sweeping the saltmarsh was extraordinarily unproductive, but I eventually caught a Bucculatrix maritima.


Finally, this is presumably a dark Cydia splendana beaten from Willow, but given the paucity of Oaks at Goldcliff I am slightly confused.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Squash stops

Quick stops in the late afternoon after squash lessons in Coleford produced a couple of good VC35 Micros.  First, at Dixton Embankment on 23/7 I netted a male Dichrorampha flavidorsana (gen det, but note the short costal fold compared with D. alpinana), then at the Kymin on 30/7 I beat an Argyresthia semitestacella from a Beech tree.  Both have 4 previous Gwent records.