Sunday, 18 May 2014

Slow Worms, Newts and Moths

The temperature rocketed here on Saturday to around 23, which is Quite Hot for the UK. I was down by the fishing lake at college helping with the Open Day. I got there at ten thirty and didn't leave till 5.30 and we were busy throughout. The fields were heaving with cars and there were people everywhere, enjoying all the hundreds of things that there were to do. We had masses of little children wanting to hold the slow worm and look at the newts that we had on the stand, and quite a few who also wanted to hold the cockroaches...

Cockroach

Our tent

Male Holly Blue fluttering in the bushes near the tent

Marbled Newt (from central Europe)

Gorgeous male slow-worm, with whom I have fallen in love

He was a star all day, allowing so many people to hold him and never losing his temper once.

We started the day with three, but someone took one- can you believe it?

Smooth Newt

Smooth Newt

Toad-pole

We had a Cleo crisis last night when I got back. I went in to check her and she'd got confused about where she was and had crawled among the bags of dog and bird food and was clinging on to them for dear life. Three nights ago she crawled into a cupboard at the back of her room and got herself wedged among the pipes that supply the washing machine. M had to extricate her because I took one look and suddenly felt sick and faint. Cleo is the only person who brings this out in me- I can deal with blood, wounds, injuries, unwell people and animals, but when Cleo is hurt, or looks to be, I go to pieces. Luckily, M was able to get her out safely and in one piece but even he said he thought we might have to saw through the pipes to free her. She was very wobbly afterwards and couldn't stand up for a while, but she started purring while I stroked her and did get up and was moving OK.

I thought after that that we'd made the room safe for her, but obviously not. So, L and I spent an hour blocking every single hole we could find in her room, taped up the cat flap and generally tried to ensure there was no where she could crawl into and become disorientated or get stuck in. I am finding this aspect of her blindness the most upsetting- I hate seeing her so vulnerable and ending up in the wrong place because she can't see where she is. It is very distressing.

Once we had settled Cleo and made her comfortable, I put the moth box out in the garden. There were masses of mothy folk flitting about because it was so warm, and this morning when I checked we had ninety-five moths in the box along with several outside. Some of them were only there in the form of wings, meaning the birds had got there before me :-(. There were over 20 new species, some new for the garden as well as the year. This takes the total of new species for 2014 up to seventy seven.



Alder moth (a reasonable rarity round here and the first time I've seen one)

Blood Vein

The Darkly Handsome Cinnabar

Green Carpet

Light Brocade

Light Brocade

Marbled Minor

May Highflyer

Peacock

Pebble Hook-Tip

Peppered Moth

Poplar Hawk pretending to be a Buffalo

Poplar Hawk helping me write

Poplar Hawk showing off how big he is

Sallow Kitten

Scalloped Hazel

Silver Ground Carpet

Small Magpie

Small Phoenix

A Wasp, who was upsetting all the moths in the box...

The Very Beautiful White Ermine

White Ermine

White Ermine

White-Pinion Spotted
I've taken loads of pics of insects and various damsels this weekend too. We now have Azures and Large Reds for definite laying in the pond, which is exciting. Once my exam is done and dusted (weds) I will be putting together a post about them all. Also about the Water Vole course I went on on Friday, which was both interesting and useful. I also have another Butterfly Transect to do this week so will hope for good weather and take the camera and see if I can get some shots to show you. Dave saw a Green Hairstreak there last week, so I am hopeful, having never seen one of those before...

I hope you've all had a relaxing weekend,

CT :-)




21 comments:

  1. I have to say the proper Haw and the White Ermine are very fascinatingly beautiful ! We use to do educational programs with creatures of nature for many a year as well ! We had Madagascar hissing cock roaches in our program along with many a creature. People are fascinated to learn about them all . That is just terrible to think someone took one , shame on them Could he have somehow gotten out ?

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    1. It was so good to be able to show so many small people all the wild things, and by far the majority of the kids were brilliant with them- some as young as two years old holding the slow worm so carefully. It did my heart good.
      It is possible one of the slow worms escaped, but unlikely. We all felt she'd been snatched. Apparently, the same thing happened last year as well :-( I Stood Guard as soon as we realised- I felt very protective of them; such lovely, peaceful creatures.

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  2. The weather has been glorious this weekend hasn't it, we reached 23 C here as well today :-) Fantastic to see all those Newts, especially that Marbled Newt, and as ever a simply stunning collection of moths from your trap, you are very lucky indeed to have such a wide variety of species in your garden :-)

    My sister had a cat which became blind (something to do with a kidney problem) and in the end had to have one eye removed, but it was amazing how quickly he adapted. It went on to live to a grand old age (nearly 20!!) so hopefully Cleo will likewise adapt given time :-)

    All the best and kindest regards :-)

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    1. Thank you David, and thank you for the reassuring words about cats and blindness. I know you will understand this: it has hit me hard, Cleo losing her sight. I am desperate for her to be OK.

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  3. I have looked at your photos of the moths caught in the moth box for about half an hour. Totally transfixed by their beauty. How did your interest in them start? Is is easy to get hold of and use a moth box? I'd love to do it with my little boy (but really do it for myself..).
    Leanne xx

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    1. Moths are truly wonderful, amazing and varied creatures. I got hooked last summer when I saw them on Ragged Robin's blog (see my side bar for her excellent blog). You can get an entry level moth box which I started with for about £100. I eventually upgraded to a Robinson, not cheap at around £300 but it has been worth every penny as the moths don't escape so easily in the morning before you get to them. You can catch hundreds in the Robinson, so best to go for that when you're confident of Iding them or you'll spend hours (as I did) trying to work out what they all are! Google ALS who supplied me my boxes, they are great- really helpful and knowledgeable.
      Alternatively, you can try the old-fashioned way of laying a white sheet on the grass and shining a torch on it at night. Mid June- Min Aug best time for that on a warm muggy night. Last summer a privet hawkmoth followed the torch light and landed on the sheet! Magical. If you want any more info just shout- very happy to help x

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    2. thank you xx I shall have a go at the sheet next month and see where I go from there.
      Leanne xx

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  4. Hi CT, never seen a slow worm, and I can't believe some one took a Newt ! Favourite moth is small magpie from your set of photos. Hope Cleo has a good night.
    Amanda x

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    1. I haven't seen slow worms since I was a kid so it was a real treat to spend all day handling them yesterday. I felt very protective of them! The small magpie is very pretty- should get lots of them coming to the box from now on. Thanks re Cleo, it's been a hard few days but I am positive x

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  5. Your moths are SO beautiful! Good to see a peppered moth after once reading about their adaptation to sooty, industrial environments - your environment must be very clean as the moth is so white.

    There are green hairstreaks in clearings in the enclosure near Wootton Bridge in the New Forest ( there were a couple of years ago).

    I hope the slow worm is being well cared for or has been set free. I can`t believe someone would steal one!

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    1. I've yet to see a Melanistic Peppered moth, which, as you say, is probably testament to the air quality here. We have lots of lichen on our apple tree which suggests the same.
      Good to hear about the Hairstreaks in the forest, finger's crossed for seeing one this week :-)
      Extraordinary re the slow worm - we were all surprised (and I was cross). Hope whoever it was let the poor thing go :-(

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  6. Great set of pictures - we used to have slow worms at the bottom of the garden in Somerset, many, many years ago!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. Hi Stewart and thank you for the follow :-)

      I am really hoping we get some slow worms in our garden this year- we had grass snakes last year but no slowies.

      I'll bet Melbourne feels a little bit different to Somerset!

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  7. A great selection of moths CT :) You are fortunate to get such a great variety.

    I love the slow worm (haven't seen one for a few years) but sad news that someone actually took one. I just hope they released it in a safe environment.

    Hope Cleo adapts soon - it must be very upsetting for you and good luck with the exam.

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    1. I'd really like to know how we compare moth-wise to a few miles distant, whether it is particularly good here, or the norm for Hants. Be interesting to find out.

      I loved that little slow worm. So many people were going gooey over him. Still feeling shocked that someone took one :-(

      Thanks re Clee. Just takes time I guess. And thanks too re exam. I have just about reached my limit for revision and am looking forward to not having to do any more for a while!

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  8. I was so sad to hear about Cleo's latest difficulties. I can empathise with you as I would find this so upsetting too. I hate to see anyone or animal in difficulty, but when it is your own family or pet it is so much harder. I really do hope that she will be OK now and not get into any more difficulties. The scary news is that I am starting to recognise those moths! I saw the cinnabar and thought, oh, a cinnabar! Scary huh!! Glad that you had a good weekend at your event, and I look forward to your water vole post! xx

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    1. I think perhaps our lovely vet was a little unrealistic advising a fortnight for adjustment. She went blind over night and I've just been reading up on it- it can take weeks for them to adjust in those circumstances, and she's not a young cat. More problems tonight with getting into places she couldn't get out of. We will have to see. Ho hum.

      Well done for recognising the moths- I'm proud of you :-) Now you can impress all your friends by showing off your new-found knowledge x

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  9. Excellent variety of Moths - some we get here, and others totally new to me. LOVE the close-ups! Sorry about Cleo and her difficulty in adjusting. We have two one-eyed cats, who hunt and manage well, but total blindness is something else. I hope that she manages to cope soon.

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    1. I think the suddenness of the blindness is the problem- she just hasn't had time to acclimatise as she would have done had her sight gone gradually. I am not feeling too hopeful right now as her quality of life has completely diminished over this week.

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  10. Aha I know where to come for moth ID now! :-) Everyone's got moth traps, I have got to do this! I see you are as bug crazy as I am......
    Sorry about your poor puss. I'm a cat lover too so that must have been a shock. I hope things will get better in time as she adapts.
    I added your blog to my feedly list as I can't follow using the Google Friend Connect thingy as for a long time it just refuses to let me!

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    1. You'll love a moth trap, judging from your blog- they are endlessly fascinating, beautiful and mysterious things (moths, not the traps!) :-)

      Thank you for the follow and for your kind words about Cleo. It is tough at the moment...

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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