Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Moths Already?

Long-time readers of this blog will remember that I got into moths last year as an antidote to the summer doldrums and that I then discovered that actually I really enjoyed mothing. Not that my garden is particularly good for moths, in fact its rather a moth desert, certainly compared to other gardens. Steve Goddard in Wolvercote also traps and regularly catches two or three times the numbers that I do and also gets a much wider variety of species. Nevertheless, mothing has certain advantages: it can be done from the comfort of ones own home, it involves the same tricky getting to grips with ID issues as birding, it involves listing and it can be done in the summer months when the birding is quiet. Not that it will ever replace my birding which will always be my first love but it's nice to have some diversification. Anyway, it rather seems that summer has come early: now that we're finally getting some decent weather all the bird action has dried up. I've not been on an out-of-county twitch for quite some time now and I'm starting to get itchy feet - I really could do with a nice juicy twitch. Talking of drying up, the flood waters on my beloved Port Meadow patch are going the same way. It's been such a dry spring that they're almost gone now, just at the crucial start of May period when one can expect the best birds. No wonder I've turned to the moths already. Actually, I've got involved with the Garden Moth Challenge, one of these multi-contributor blog/competitions that seem to be all the rage this year thanks to Twitter. I was rather reluctant to start with as my garden is so poor for moths but I decided in the end that at least it will give me an incentive to get mothing more regularly and indeed so it has. The rules are simple: it's a year list tally of all moths and butterflies within one's garden so I've dusted down the trap and have been running it most evenings when the weather has warranted it. It's also been interesting to read what other people are catching and to discuss our catches on Twitter each morning.

Last year I didn't start mothing until the second half of the year and so I missed a lot of the early moths so there's been plenty to catch up on. For much of April all I caught was various combinations of a few spring moths.

Spring Moths: Early Grey, Hebrew Character, Common Quaker

When the warm weather really kicked in, it was noticeable how suddenly the spring moths disappeared and were replaced by Carpets, Pugs and micros. Well for me at least, other moth'ers were reporting all sorts of lovely exotic specimens but I seem to get stuck with the interesting small stuff!

Various micros: Diurnea Fagella, Caloptilia rufipennella, Bee Moth

Various Small Macros & One Micro
Top Row: The Streamer, Common Carpet, V-Pug,
Bottom Row: Least Black Arches, Many-plumed Moth, Yellow-barred Brindle

The best that I can hope for in my garden is to find something that adds to the Upper Thames Valley moth recording area year list. So far I've managed to add Caloptilia rufipennella. In addition the V-Pug and a Cnephasia sp. may well both be as well though I'll have to wait for their next update to find out if anyone has reported one before me. In the mean time I'm having lots of mothy fun in my garden whilst waiting for the birding to kick off again. Now that we've got some rain and wind forecast for the next few days perhaps that will be enough to get things started on the bird front but in the mean time at least I've got my moths.


Camboy said...

Hi Gnome really good pics of the moths from your garden. Moths kinda give me the creeps but i'm fascinated by them and their beauty has surprised me, so although I do not intend to trap them I will be looking out for anything different and hope you don't mind if I call on your identification skills.

Adam Hartley (Gnome) said...

Happy to help where I can Barry