Thursday, 19 July 2012


Members of the Essex Moth Group visited the country park on Tuesday 17th for the annual moth recording evening. For once the conditions were perfect, with a dry night, cloudy skies and no moon either. Five traps were set up at dusk with two staying on until 4am, when they were checked and emptied just before day-break.

It turned out to be the best and most rewarding moth evening of the year so far. There was a good showing of all sorts of macro and micro moths with a final tally still to be confirmed but at least 72 macros were identified and with a possible 20+ micros, the total could be close to 100 species. This annual meeting has always been lucky with the weather conditions and the resulting long list of moths.

Five species of hawkmoth were the main stars of the session with this shocking pink coloured elephant hawkmoth being pictured above beating its wings ready for take-off. Surprisingly this is the first one of the season here.

The first hawkmoth of the evening was the small elephant hawkmoth, pictured above beside its bigger cousin. This is the first small elephant noted at the park since 2006, which seems a long period without being noted here. There seems to have been more reports of it this summer from other moth trappers.

The pine hawkmoth has become a regular visitor to this moth-meeting in recent years. This one was seen fluttering along the grass towards the trap. The first one noted at the park this summer.
Beside one of the other traps, a poplar hawkmoth was discovered resting amongst the long grass. In the small hours of the morning four privet hawkmoths made their way into the two traps and were discovered at dawn.

Two leopard moths were seen, one pictured above, showing the near translucent spotted wings. They have a very determined grip and don't like being moved around. One or two are noted here each year.

The common but colourful ruby tiger always makes a bright appearance to the collection of moths in the trap. The three noted were the first ones seen this summer with the prospect of a few more over the next couple of weeks.

Some of the other moths seen included oak hook-tip, drinker, buff arches, common emerald, least carpet, small scallop, shaded broad-bar, latticed heath, early thorn, bird's-wing, willow beauty, maple prominent, buff-tip, white satin, buff ermine, dingy footman, dot moth, white-point, clay, lunar-spotted pinion, dun-bar, silver-Y, spectacle, herald, double square-spot, nutmeg and fanfoot.

Several summer chafers were flying around the tree-tops at dusk with lots of black-headed gulls feeding on them. A handful of these chafers dropped down to the traps. A common sandpiper was heard calling as it flew over the park in the dark.


kateNsteve said...

Dear Mr Urquhart,

I am fascinated with your blog and read it all the time and I really praise your work.
I just wanted to tell you that I found a caterpillar of the Ruby Tiger Moth back in March of this year, at Mersea, along the beach near the country park.
Again I really enjoy your blog. Thank you and keep up the good writing !

Dougal Urquhart said...

Glad to hear you enjoy reading the blog. Although it's quite widespread, the ruby tiger is one of my favourite moths, just because it's such a colourful moth - it brightens up any trapping session!
- Dougal