Saturday, 7 July 2012

More back yard moths

On returning from our trip to the caravan last week we found an unexpected guest in the back yard. One of the two young herring gulls in the nest on our chimney stack had decided to make a leap off the roof and had ended up unhurt in the courtyard. Unfortunately it was very noisey and very messy and was being protected by 2 very aggressive adults so with the help of a towel we assisted it in to the court yard next door. The house next door has been empty for many years and the court yard like ours is totally enclosed and with no access to it except through the house so it is very safe and secure and with cover for the young bird to hide away. A week after we moved it a lot of the fluffy feathers have now gone and it is busily flapping its wings so hopefully it will soon be able to fly away. The adults continue to feed it and can still be a bit aggressive when we go out to our courtyard but at least the young bird is doing well.

The weather continues to be appalling but I managed to get the moth box out in the back yard overnight on the 5th July and ended up with not a bad haul of moths including a new one for the garden, a double square spot.

Double Square Spot

Before going to bed I had a quick check on the trap to find nothing in it but I did briefly see what I thought was a magpie moth flitting about in the gloom which would have been a new moth for the garden but in the morning I had a small magpie in the trap so maybe I was mistaken.

Small Magpie

A nice find in the trap was a dark sword grass, a migrant moth than can be quite common in the UK in some years and the 2nd time I have caught one in the garden.

Dark Sword Grass

Dark Sword Grass - close up of the distinctive dart marks

Other moths included a very nice buff tip, a faded heart and club, a faded yellow barred brindle and 3 riband wave.

There were a few micro moths in the trap too but many escaped before I could catch them and despite my new micro-moth field guide I have failed to ID the ones I did manage to get in to pots. I do struggle with the micros, I rarely get a good macro-photo of the ones I catch as they are so small and they are always so active and difficult to observe well. Most do not have English names but instead have only unpronounceable Latin names and as a result I usually give up on them very quickly.

In comparison the macro moths are generally much more placid - except the carpets, waves and pugs. The darts can be a bit jumpy and are a bit spooky, behaving like cockroaches which freaks me out a bit. Large yellow underwings are the worst - they seem to go completely mental if you so much as look at them! I have found the easiest moth to handle is the large ranunculus which I catch in the garden in the Autumn, a very attractive moth and very docile, but buff tips and the hawk moths are relatively easy to handle too as the nice buff tip I caught in the trap proved.

Buff Tip

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