Mothing 30.04.20

Garden mothing VC12 ~ 29-30/04/20 ~

The forecast for last night was rather wet and windy conditions, but something about the promise of spring made me risk it and set the trap up. Upon checking the trap at around 21.30, I was disheartened to see that the rain had started early, but a Great Prominent Peridea anceps hiding away on the back of the sheet was some consolation. Given that the rain was due to remain steady for an hour or so rather than getting any heavier, I decided to brave it and leave the trap out until the morning.

Despite getting to sleep around 2am, I somehow woke up before my 06.30 alarm and was out to check the trap at 06.00. The sheet next to the trap was soaking and the Great Prominent was nowhere to be seen, but a Poplar Grey Subacronicta megacephala was a nice surprise. Inside the trap was - as expected - pretty quiet, with two Red-green Carpets Chloroclysta siterata, a battered Oak-tree Pug Eupithecia dodoneata and a single Triple-barred Argent Argyresthia trifasciata. Right at the bottom, under the very last egg box was the highlight of my mothing year so far, and possibly the best moth to grace my garden since I began trapping in 2015... a beautiful Lime Hawk-moth Mimas tiliae! It's my first one in Hampshire, and only my second one ever (the other being at Upton Fen, Norfolk last year). A real treat and a very unexpected one too!

Species
Count
Great Prominent
Peridea anceps
1
Lime Hawk-moth
Mimas tiliae
1
Oak-tree Pug
Eupithecia dodoneata
1
Poplar Grey
Subacronicta megacephala
1
Red-green Carpet
Chloroclysta siterata
2
Triple-barred Argent
Argyresthia trifasciata
1

Lime Hawk-moth Mimas tiliae
Great Prominent Peridea anceps
Poplar Grey Subacronicta megacephala

Mothing 24.04.20

Garden mothing VC12 ~ 23-24/04/20 ~

A last minute decision at ~21.00 last night saw me putting the moth trap out once again. The weather was warm (~9°C) and fairly overcast... pretty much as good as it's going to get for this time of year! By the time I went to check the trap at ~23.30, there were already a number of moths around, including a Waved Umber, Seraphim, two Brimstones and a handful of pugs.

Upon checking the trap at ~07.00 this morning it was encouraging to see a number of moths still on the vertical sheet that I hang next to the trap, as well as the perspex lid of the trap itself... always a good sign! It didn't take too long to go through the traps' contents as it was all fairly straightforward.  The total catch came to 61 moths of 29 species - not bad for April. A number of species were quite surprising to see, especially Nutmeg, Sharp-angled Carpet, Yellow-barred Brindle and a superb Poplar Hawk-moth.

Hopefully the weather stays favourable over the next few things as things really start to pick up!

Species
Count
Brimstone Moth
Opisthograptis luteolata
6
Brindled Beauty
Lycia hirtaria
2
Brindled Pug
Eupithecia abbreviata
13
Brown Pine Ermine
Cedestis subfasciella
1
Chocolate-tip
Clostera curtula
3
Clouded Drab
Orthosia incerta
2
Common Oak Purple
Dyseriocrania subpurpurella
1
Common Quaker
Orthosia cerasi
1
Fern Smut
Psychoides filicivora
1
Least Black Arches
Nola confusalis
1
Light Brown Apple-moth
Epiphyas postvittana
1
Many-plume Moth
Alucita hexadactyla
1
Muslin Moth
Diaphora mendica
1
Narrow-winged Grey
Eudonia angustea
1
Nut-tree Tussock
Colocasia coryli
1
Nutmeg
Anarta trifolii
1
Oak Nycteoline
Nycteola revayana
1
Oak-tree Pug
Eupithecia dodoneata
8
Poplar Hawk-moth
Laothoe populi
1
Red-green Carpet
Chloroclysta siterata
1
Ruddy Streak
Tachystola acroxantha
1
Seraphim
Lobophora halterata
1
Sharp-angled Carpet
Euphyia unangulata
1
Shuttle-shaped Dart
Agrotis puta
2
Spruce Carpet
Thera britannica
1
Triple-barred Argent
Argyresthia trifasciata
2
Waved Umber
Menophra abruptaria
1
White-shouldered House Moth
Endrosis sarcitrella
3
Yellow-barred Brindle
Acasis viretata
1

Poplar Hawk-moth Laothoe populi
Close up of Poplar Hawk-moth antennae
Chocolate-tip Clostera curtula
Muslin Moth Diaphora mendica
Yellow-barred Brindle Acasis viretata
Nutmeg Anarta trifolii
Sharp-angled Carpet Euphyia unangulata

Garden moths 22.04.20

Garden moths VC12 ~ 21-22/04/20 ~

I put the moth trap out again last night as the forecast was for it to be ~9°C and cloudy. This was not the case however, and the cloud didn't materialise, causing it to be a rather chilly night instead! The moths weren't completely deterred though, and when I checked the trap at about 7am, I found 13 moths of 10 species. 

Three of these species were new for the year: Early Grey Xylocampa areola, Frosted Green Polyploca ridens and the delightful Pine Beauty Panolis flammea. The highlight of the catch came in the form of a melanistic (all black) Brindled Beauty Lycia hirtaria. It was a real stunner and not a form I'd heard of before, so it was pretty cool to see.


Species
Count
Brindled Beauty
Lycia hirtaria
3
Common Slender
Gracillaria syringella
1
Early Grey
Xylocampa areola
1
Frosted Green
Polyploca ridens
1
Grey Pine Carpet
Thera obeliscata
1
Hebrew Character
Orthosia gothica
1
Pale Mottled Willow
Caradrina clavipalpis
1
Pine Beauty
Panolis flammea
1
Shuttle-shaped Dart
Agrotis puta
2
Sulphur Tubic
Esperia sulphurella
1

2x Brindled Beauty Lycia hirtaria, including the melanistic form
Melanistic Brindled Beauty Lycia hirtaria
Pine Beauty Panolis flammea
Frosted Green Polyploca ridens

First trap of the year

Moth Trapping - NE Hants ~ 16-17/04/20 ~

Last night I put the moth trap out for the first time since I left for Australia back in June 2019. The weather was reasonably calm and overcast for most of the night, dropping to around 4℃, and with a bit of light rain in the early hours.

The catch consisted of 27 moths of 17 species; highlights were 2 Grey Birch, 1 Great Prominent & 1 Purple Thorn. Prior to this morning, I had only seen one Grey Birch before, so they were a particular surprise! See the table below for a full species breakdown:

Species
Count
Brimstone Moth
Opisthograptis luteolata
1
Light Brown Apple-moth
Epiphyas postvittana
1
Satellite
Eupsilia transversa
1
Brown-spot Flat-body
Agonopterix alstromeriana
1
Purple Thorn
Selenia tetralunaria
1
Ruddy Streak
Tachystola acroxantha
1
Common Quaker
Orthosia cerasi
2
Hebrew Character
Orthosia gothica
2
Nut-tree Tussock
Colocasia coryli
1
Brindled Beauty
Lycia hirtaria
4
Oak-tree Pug
Eupithecia dodoneata
5
Brindled Pug
Eupithecia abbreviata
1
Great Prominent
Peridea anceps
1
Clouded Drab
Orthosia incerta
1
Grey Birch
Aethalura punctulata
2
Iron Prominent
Notodonta dromedarius
1
Pale Mottled Willow
Caradrina clavipalpis
1

Grey Birch Aethalura punctulata
Iron Prominent Notodonta dromedarius
Brindled Beauty Lycia hirtaria
Great Prominent Peridea anceps

Munghorn Gap

Munghorn Gap Bird Banding ~ 23rd & 24th August 2019 ~

Last weekend I was invited to join a bird ringing trip at Munghorn Gap, a nature reserve located about 2.5hrs inland from Newcastle, in the NSW Central Tablelands. Bird ringing (or banding as it is known here) has taken place at Munghorn for over 50 years, meaning that a vast amount of data has been collected on the size, health, site fidelity and longevity of birds within this population. 

For those who don't know, bird banding (ringing) consists of catching wild birds and fitting a uniquely numbered lightweight metal ring to their leg. Bird ringing generates information on the survival, productivity and movements of birds which allows us to understand how and why populations are changing so that the most effective conservation measures can be put in place to protect them. The Australian Bird and Bat Banding Scheme and British Trust for Ornithology websites both provide excellent information regarding the value of bird ringing/banding, including examples of some incredible migration events and longevity records, none of which would be known otherwise.

Anyway, I arrived at the campsite at Honeyeater Flat on Thursday evening, set up my tent and had some dinner before meeting the other banders once they returned from setting up nets for the follow day's session. On Friday (23rd) morning we banded at the Moolarben Picnic Area, a lovely woodland site with a spring situated in a gulley adjacent to the main walking track, which proved to be a real magnet for many species, including Honeyeaters, Thornbills and Fairy-wrens.

Over the course of the morning we caught a wide variety of species, from small Superb Fairy-wrens Malurus cyaneus and Striated Thornbills Acanthiza lineata, to medium-sized White-naped Honeyeaters Melithreptus lunatus and White-throated Treecreepers Cormobates leucophaea and we even got some larger species: Laughing Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae, Noisy Friarbird Philemon corniculatus and Australian King-parrot Alisterus scapularis! We also caught some of my favourite Australian birds so far: Varied Sittella Daphoenositta chrysoptera and Eastern Spinebill Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris, which were both amazing to see up close!

Superb Fairy-wren Malurus cyaneus
Laughing Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae
Varied Sittella Daphoenositta chrysoptera
Eastern Spinebill Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris

We banded until about 13:00 before taking down the nets and having some lunch. Once we were refuelled, we headed to our banding site for Saturday morning, which was only down the road from the campsite and set up the nets ready for the following morning. After a bit of down time back at the campsite, we went to a nearby pub for dinner and some warmth.

On Saturday morning we were up at the crack of dawn and soon had the nets open again - there was an initial rush of birds (mostly White-naped Honeyeaters) which steadily declined until we packed up around lunchtime. Over the course of the morning we caught a variety of species, including honeyeaters, treecreepers, finches, fairy-wrens and thornbills. My personal favourites were: White-plumed Honeyeater Ptilotula penicillata and Diamond Firetail Stagonopleura guttata. 

Diamond Firetail Stagonopleura guttata
White-plumed Honeyeater Ptilotula penicillata
Once we had packed up and had some lunch, we headed back to the campsite where I packed up my tent and all my gear into the car. Unfortunately I had an assignment due in that week which meant I couldn't stay for an extra day of banding. Over the course of the two sessions, a number of the birds we caught were re-captures (banded on previous trips), and a fair few were quite old: one of the White-plumed Honeyeaters (weighs ~20g) was banded at the site over 10 years ago and a Striated Thornbill (weighs ~7g) was banded nearly 14 years ago!! This goes to show the importance of banding in furthering our understanding of these birds in terms of how long they live and where they spend their time. 
Double-barred Finch Taeniopygia bichenovii
Yellow-tufted Honeyeater Lichenostomus melanops