Friday, 14 June 2013

HUGE excitement here- the Moth Box Has Arrived!!!!

As some of you may know, I have been getting very interested in moths over recent days, spurred on by some really wonderful posts and pictures by blogging friends Ragged Robin  and David Turner in particular (click the highlighted names to see their fantastic pictures of moths). As a result I decided I would buy a Moth Trap which I duly did from here and it arrived yesterday. (BTW- Jon at
Anglian Lepidopterist Supplies has been brilliant at patiently answering all my (probably in some cases stupid) questions, and there is a good "beginners section" on their website too, so I thoroughly recommend him if your interest gets piqued in moths).

It would be difficult to imagine my excitement at the prospect of the box arriving unless you are already involved in moth trapping (actually, I've decided it doesn't feel right calling it "trapping" so I will call it "Looking At Moths" instead). The only thing I was concerned about was putting the box together: I am a girl who has been known once or twice to paint over dead flies that have stuck to the walls when decorating instead of removing them (I know, a terrible and disgusting admission) so DIY isn't my strong point.

Anyway, the folks who make these boxes must be used to girls because it was surprisingly easy to do and even looked right once I'd finished.

At first I thought it only contained egg boxes....



Then panicked when I realised it was a self-assembly job with bits of wood and wire and plugs. Eek!


Oh my goodness where to start?


Actually, it's pretty easy this assembling lark...


 Look: I've even got all four sides on without dropping it, smashing it, bending it, breaking it or putting it on backwards





Actually, it seems way too easy....


    

What do you think Cleo?
Too easy Mum, you're certain to have put something on in the wrong place somewhere.
Cats. 
Always with the critical and unsparing honesty.
(If I'd asked Ted he'd have just wagged his tail and said "Yes! Yes! Yes! Mum! you've done it!")




 As it turns out I hadn't made any mistakes and now it was just a case of waiting impatiently for dusk so we could put the box out.

I busied myself with other things to make night-time hurry up. First I went to have a chat with Mavis who has been brooding her non-existent eggs pretty much since the first hint of Spring arrived several weeks ago. She wasn't in good humour because she hasn't forgiven me for trying to flush her out of her broodiness earlier in the week (silly bird- she knows she doesn't have a husband so how could she possibly think she was going to hatch out little chicklets?).
It was while I was in the hen house making one-sided and frankly awkward and stilted conversation with Mavis (who was sitting stiff and silent and disapproving on her non-eggs) that I happened to glance up (something I usually try and avoid doing in there because of all the cobwebs that dangle threateningly from the ceiling containing hints and threats of spidery people) and I saw this....



Mave! I exclaimed, Did you know there was a wasps' nest right above your nest? I should get off it if I were you. Wasps are Not Nice To Have Around, especially when you're sitting on non-eggs.




 Go Away, said Mavis. I know what you are trying to do. And that isn't a wasps' nest. It's the Moon.

I told you she was a silly bird. I gave up and went off to find something else to do.

I had a chat with Ted who can currently only see out of one eye due to fur over-growth. I suggested that I trim the offending bit of coat with scissors but he wasn't having any of it. Instead, he looked at me as if I had gone mad and was trying to gouge his eye out. I gave up and went to find something else to do in the garden.


I found a lovely bee on the Scabious.


Then I found this Greater Spotted Woodpecker feather in the garden


 And finally took a photo of our River Horse (as we call him) looking majestic and noble in the evening sunlight.


After that night time arrived and (after watching Game of Thrones, which I am finding rather gripping and thrilling and escapey at the moment) we put the box outside, switched on the light and went to bed. 

Only I was so excited that I couldn't sleep. It didn't help that the light from the Moth Box on the patio outside illuminated the twisted willow so much so that it looked like the reflection from a Chinese Takeaway. I felt bad for anyone trying to sleep in it's branches and we have resolved to move it further up the garden next time. Once I'd finally got to sleep I kept waking up to check the clock and see whether it was time to get up yet. 

Honestly.

You'd never know I was forty would you?

Anyway, I was downstairs bright and breezy first thing this morning, pulling M along with me so we could both see what was in the box.

It did not disappoint. 

14 moths in total and 10 different species. For the more seasoned moth people among you that may not be much perhaps? As it was my first experience I was completely over the moon. There were people in there I have never seen in all my forty years. That, I think, is what I love most about nature- its capacity to surprise you and demonstrate that it has its own secrets, that there are things living in this world with me that I have never seen despite the fact I've been wandering around with my eyes open looking at everything for the last forty years.

I need to apologise in advance for the quality of the photos. I really wanted to share them with you (and am hoping the more experienced moth people among you will be able to help with IDs!), but my camera, while excellent for birds etc, has turned out to be crap for close ups of insects etc. If anyone can recommend a good one with a decent macro button for taking pics of moths please let me know because I need one!

Also, as my ID skills are very much in their absolute infancy, and my new moth book hasn't arrived yet, any help with ID's would also be extremely gratefully received.

* Update- thanks to David pointing me in the direction of our local county moth group I have been able (I think) to ID all of the moths that I took pictures of this morning. If anyone spots any errors please let me know. I really welcome guidance from those more experienced :-)

Here they are...


Above is a Flame Shoulder (what a great name!)


I think the moth above is a Scalloped Hazel (great name again!)


Above is a Treble Lines


This one (above) could possibly be an Agapeta Hamana (hook-marked straw moth). It does look like the ones I've been checking for "what's flying this week" in Hampshire on the hantsmoth.org.uk website but I'm not certain.


The one above is a Buff Tip (hooray! I know one!), and looks exactly like a bit of silver birch twig. There were three of these amazing, beautiful, unbelievable creatures in the box and I have never seen them before. Their camouflage is so good L was convinced the biggest of the three really was a twig and was having none of the moth theory until he saw it move and open its wings!


And this one (above) is a Poplar Hawkmoth. Far bigger than any of the others in the box. I was astonished at him and nearly cried when I saw him (do I need to get out more or is that OK?)

I don't know who this little fellow is, but he also looked like the bark of a tree. Aren't they clever? Nature is amazing (updated- I think he is a Spectacle Moth).


So, all in all a terrific first experience of Looking At Moths. I think I need to get some glass or plastic jars or pots to look at them properly. A couple flew off before we could photograph them. If anyone knows any good pots, again, advice gratefully received.

Friday again already- where does the time go? My neck is now working properly again (thanks to the lovely Mandy) so I can have a good catch up with everyone in the pond this weekend without being in danger of falling in :-)

Have a lovely weekend all,

CT x


18 comments:

  1. How exciting - I completely understand! Sounds like an extremely expensive encyclopedic moth book might be needed....oh well. Love the GSW feather by the way.

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    1. It's like Christmas, as Ragged Robin warned me it would be! I can see you taking it up Em- would be v interesting in fact to compare types between Hampshire and Dartmoor, and I imagine OB would love it too. L was amazed at them this morning and of course we don't usually see them which makes them all the more magical, like a secret world existing right beneath our noses.

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  2. Discovering these moths does sound very exciting and addictive. They are beautiful creatures when seen close up. The wasps' nest looks huge - and poor Mavis, I hope she stops feeling broody soon.

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    1. It really is Wendy. I still get excited collecting eggs from the girls and I've had hens all my life so I suspect looking at moths will be the same. The wasps' nest wasn't as big as it looked in the pic, about 6-7cm. Mave is daft as a brush- I can see her remaining broody till winter! Sadly, while she is we don't get any of her lovely blue eggs :-( Have you had goslings yet or are your geese also without a hubby?

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    2. We let the geese raise goslings a couple of years ago, but after that decided no more and since then we've taken the eggs early before they develop. This doesn't stop the geese from going broody though and they can sit on the nest (or nests) for weeks.

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  3. A fabulous and entertaining post CT and I certainly look forward to reading about your future moth-ing, your enthusiasm really comes across in this post :-)

    Anglian Lepidopterists are great guys and my trap is nearly identical except mine is the 125W MV version (luckily I have few neighbours to worry about) and your first 'catch' is an impressive one, especially as regards the variety of species. Indeed I am envious of your Poplar Hawkmoth and Buff Tip !

    As regards ID you could do no better than checking out your counties moth website, most of which have a 'What's Flying Tonight or Common Species' page which are extremely useful for beginners like myself :-)

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    1. That's a brilliant idea David thank you :-) I've just had a look and it has loads of useful info. The only problem I foresee is controlling the urge to put the box out every night! D'you mind me asking which camera you use? Your moth photos were so clear. I'm wondering if mine (Lumix FZ45) will actually do the job if I learn how to use it properly! CT :-)

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    2. At the moment most of my moths are photographed with a Nikon D90 & 18-105 mm lens but I also used to have a Lumix FZ45 in the past and got some decent enough pics for ID purposes (use the macro mode for best results).

      By the way all of your moth ID's look spot on :-)

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  4. Oh something new and exciting. I like you would not have been able to sleep! I think your images are great and the moths are fantastic. Isn't it amazing to think that this world of moths (and other wildlife of course) goes on whilst we are sleeping?

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    1. It does feel like a secret and magical world, one we normally wouldn't see. I think that's part of the appeal for me. And they look so amazing and wonderful too :-)

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  5. So glad you've gone ahead and invested in a moth trap :) I got mine from the same people and it looks identical :) It is easy to put together isn't it? :)

    You caught some super moths for your first night - like David I am envious of your Poplar Hawkmoth and Buff Tip - both would be new species for me!

    ALS should sell plastic moth pots if you check their website (they are under Specimen Tubes and Pooters). Just realised you live in Hampshire Hants Moths Flying Tonight Website is brilliant. I use it a lot even though I'm not in Hampshire :)

    Have fun - its a wonderful interest :)I look forward to seeing what you catch :)

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    1. I largely have you to thank for introducing me to it... so thank you :-) It's lovely to have something new to learn about and they are such beautiful creatures too. I simply had no idea there were so many until I started finding out about them. Will have a look on ALS tomorrow for pots. Hope all's well, CT x

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  6. Too cool! I want a moth box too. :)

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    1. I bet you'd get some amazing specimens over there Mark.... :-)

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  7. It must have been so exciting looking in the moth box and finding so many species. Daisy understands Teddy's dilemma with the hair over the eyes, it's a bad design fault!
    Sarah x

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    1. I was like a child on Christmas morning Sarah. SO excited! Ted is still grumbling about the scissors so I think it's time for the clippers....

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  8. What an entertaining and enthusiastic post! I reallly want a moth box! I always see so many moths flying in the garden at night (when we let the dog into the garden) and wonder what they are! Think I'll have to save up!

    I look forward to seeing what you observe in the future!

    Lou :)

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    1. Hi Lou :-) Yes it's been great, thoroughly recommended if you have an interest in them.

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x