Monday, 12 July 2010

The Little & Large Show

It was another busy Saturday with the moths at Tophill Low Nature Reserve. Once again 5 traps set, and though the lights not attracting the same number of species as last weekend, once again the moths trapped ensured that it was worth the effort.

Understanding records, understanding what you catch, and the history, is something that makes the exercise a pleasure.

So the little... at about 2cms (if they grow that big)

Short-cloaked Moth... the first record I believe since 1992

Then there is the large - at around 10-12cms - and a first for Tophill Low NR...

Privet Hawkmoth

After the two 'megas' the rest of the cast was also impressive - 2 Beautiful Hook-tips - I think less than 10 recorded since 1997 - though neither lingered long enough in warm, and busy conditions. Tawny-barred Angle is also rarely caught, perhaps only trapped on 7 nights since 1996 with only 12 individuals. This one was missed in the trap but fortunately took up residence on my shirt and then posed.

The best of the rest included, in no order: - 16 Poplar Hawkmoth, 2 Cream-borderd Green Pea, 1 Buff Footman, several Dingy Footman, 1 Marbled Beauty, 1 Ruby Tiger, 5 Blackneck (becoming a regular feature of the trapping) and several, expected for the period, Buff Tip and Buff Arches.

The heat ensured the dragonflies stayed on the wing, even if the sun wasn't always shining. Several unexpected surprises along the way in terms of species encountered, and potential latest records set: Common Blue Damselfly, Azure Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly, 2+ Red Eyed Damselfly, 6 Emerald Damselfly, 1 Emperor Dragonfly (first record for us this year on site and no exuvia found), 1 Hairy Hawker (perhaps the latest VC record), 1 Brown Hawker, 4 Southern Hawker (though the ongoing recording shows plenty have emerged), 14 Four-spotted Chaser, 1 ovipositing female Broad-bodied Chaser, 20 Black-tailed Skimmer and 16 Ruddy Darter.

Taking advantage of the habitat, and watching those that don't see, were these Ruddy Darters on one the benches.

And difficult to find in their usual haunts, at last a posing Southern Hawker.

Still no butterflies in number to speak of, just a few Marbled Whites to see.

Birding wise 5 Black-tailed Godwits brightened up the marshes, while in the rough margins, and showing well for the longhorn enthusiasts, Ruptela maculata and Agapanthia villosoviridescens.

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