Thursday, 9 June 2011


There's been a big influx over the previous week into southern Britain of lots of small and delicate Rannoch looper moths from the continent. This one pictured above was found in a rather sodden moth trap at the country park on the morning of Monday 6th. Lots of moth trappers ranging from Cornwall along the south coast to Kent, into Essex and Suffolk have been reporting Rannoch loopers over the last seven days or so. The biggest catches have been reported from Kent where over fifty were noted at one site.
The park's first Rannoch Looper was last summer when it was trapped on the 24th June.

Here's the Skinner moth trap at the park at 4.30am on Thursday 9th where about 75 moths of 25 species were noted. After 3 nights of trapping this week there were 40 species in total of macro moths noted. The greatest number dropped in during Sunday night when it also rained for about an hour in the middle of the night. However Tuesday and Wednesday nights weren't ideal as the night skies stayed clear and with a cold breeze. Wednesday's trapping was the thirtieth night session at the park since early March, a reasonable total so far helped by the dry spring.

The scarcest moth was this plain looking dotted fanfoot which also dropped into the trap on the wet Sunday night. This is listed as nationally scarce and mainly found in eastern England, and usually in wetland habitats, but it seems to be expanding its range both geographically and into other habitats in recent years.

It's always nice finding a privet hawkmoth, pictured above, in the trap and this very large moth was noted on each of the three nights. The moth is the largest resident hawkmoth in the UK with an impressive wingspan of 12 cms. Normally at rest the wings are folded along the length of the body concealing the pink banded abdomen.

The blood-vein moth is suitably named and this individual above seemed very fresh and brightly marked.

The first buff arches of the summer was in the trap on the Sunday night. It will be a regular visitor to the trap over the next month or so. Buff arches always look as if a chunk is missing from their backs!

Small numbers of the widespread magpie moths with their pied markings are noted each summer at the park.

Like many other moths, numbers of burnished brass have dropped in recent years and I'm not sure if any were even noted during June last summer. At certain angles the brass colouring really glints in the sunshine.

Some of the other moths noted this week have included eyed hawkmoth, poplar hawkmoth, peppered moth, marbled bown, light arches, dark arches, flame, flame shoulder, large yellow underwing, vines rustic, mottled rustic, heart and dart, heart and club, shears, white point, shoulder-striped wainscot, marbled minor, snout, setaceaous hebrew character, buff ermine, cinnabar, brimstone, marbled beauty, sandy carpet, barred straw and barred yellow.

Butterflies noted during the days have included lots of meadow browns, about 6 small tortoiseshells around the cotoneaster and also a red admiral here too. There were a few small / Essex skippers amongst the grass, while several large skippers and speckled woods have been noted. One adder was enjoying the periods of sunshine on Thursday whilst partially concealed under some brash.

A pair of Mediterranean gulls circled high over the park calling on Thursday, while on the park itself a nightingale sang as did a lesser whitethroat. On Wednesday 2 little egrets were seen on the mudflats as the tide went out and 25 sand martins were flying near the cliff. At the pond the eight swan cygnets continue to grow and a pair of gadwall were also present. On the fields a pair of shoveler fed on the pools and a male teal was seen on Monday. Offshore 3 eider and 20 curlew were seen from the park on Monday too, while in nearby Bromans Lane a little owl was seen at dusk.

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