Saturday, 10 October 2015

Of Moths & Garden Birds

I haven't had time to put the moth box out recently, and having carved out a quiet weekend decided last night would be good. I need to be checking throughout October because this is the month the Merveilles appear. You may remember them from last year...


Quite possibly the most beautiful of moths, they are associated with oak trees of which we have plenty, and are a species many moth'ers devote years to searching for. They've appeared here for the last two years so presumably we have a resident colony. I am keeping my fingers crossed for this year. So far nothing, but it's early doors yet.

What was in the box was a veritable feast, considering last night's clear skies and icy temperatures. The more common colour variety of Sallow showed up in good numbers (five of them) along with one representative of a more unusual variation, ab. flavescens, which a short trip round t'internet revealed seems to be becoming more common, with several being trapped this autumn. The rarer one is the paler of the two in the pic below (right hand side).


We also had a Turnip moth, considered a pest in the common lexicon because of its habit of chewing through root vegetables. I'm always happy to see them - we only ever get one or two a year here.

There were a couple of Beaded Chestnuts and one Brown Spot-Pinion, the first of the year..


Four Large Yellow Underwings and a couple of Lunar Underwings..


The first Red-Line Quaker turned up. These are reasonably common moths, inhabitants of woodlands and heaths. They over-winter as an egg and the pillars feed on sallow catkins and later leaves at night, spinning themselves a silken cocoon in which to hide from predators during the day...


There was one Frosted Orange, a favourite of mine. I love their markings. The caterpillars of these moths feed inside the stalk of plants like thistle and burdock. The adults are on the wing from August to October, so they are nearing the end of their flight season. I've had a good number here this autumn, which is pleasing because I do love to see them :o)



Last but not least is this spectacular Green Brindled Crescent. They look quite plain until the light catches them and the metallic streaks of glittering green hidden among the otherwise dull brown come alive and sparkle all along their wings. The melanistic (dark) form is more common in cities, doubtless due to camouflage requirement differences between rural and urban habitats.These moths are widespread across the UK and are out from Sept to Nov. Their caterpillars can be found on Hawthorn and Blackthorn in the spring....



I am also trying hard NOT to get too hopeful about a Clifden Nonpareil turning up as it did last year. Blue Underwings once bred in the UK but have been absent as a resident population since the 1950s. However, there is much excited whispering going on in Lepidopterist circles at present that there might just be a couple of breeding populations established in and around Hampshire. Lots of them have been sighted recently in Berkshire, which has led to speculation that they may have recolonised due to climate change. Here is my one from last year...



They are HUGE as moths go, and it has to be said somewhat on the plain side until they open their wings and reveal the dusky lavender blue stripe. Considered by many moth'ers the Holy Grail of mothing, it was a bit of a surprise when I went out after dark to check the trap last October and discovered this one sitting quietly inside it. I don't usually bring moths in until the morning, but I couldn't risk this one escaping so it came in then and there. Uncle B was telephoned amid great excitement and hot-footed it over to have a look too :o)

Bird-wise, it's cranked up a gear in the garden. The food only went out yesterday and already the Collar Doves, Sparrows, Great Spotted Woody, Nuthatches, Blue Tits, Dunnocks, Robins and Coal Tit have been seen feeding on the feeders...





Happy Days!

Another busy week here next week so if I'm absent you'll know why!

Wishing you all a lovely weekend,

CT :o)

24 comments:

  1. Just beautiful, your moths. Can tell its getting colder, the light apple browns are about!

    Also I misread burdock as "buttock"

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  2. We had our first little flock of long tailed tits on the fat balls this week. They never come in the summer but once winter approaches they turn up every day with their lovely little chatty sounds.

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    1. Same here. I heard them in the trees then spotted them zooming about.

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  3. That Frosted Orange is so beautiful and the Green Brindled Crescent-which I've never seen before. I've put out bird seed and new feeders and had hardly any birds, maybe it's not cold enough here yet!

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    1. Lots of folk seem to be warmer than we are. I wonder if we've got a particularly chilly micro climate going on :-)

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  4. What an interesting post. I have never seen such a variety of moths - they are beautiful creatures.

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    1. And often over looked in favour of their daytime cousins. But every bit as beautiful.

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  5. Brilliant, just brilliant. I love learning about moths. Thanks.

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    1. I'm so pleased. They do deserve more positive attention. Such important creatures.

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  6. Oh they're gorgeous. Nice to see that Frosted Orange, and the Blue Underwing is beautiful too. I love the idea of caterpillars feeding inside of the stems of things. It must be wonderfully sheltered and cosy in there. The turnip moths are welcome to my turnips, which were mostly eaten by something anyway. Fantastic to see the birds gathering in your garden. It was the biggest boy's birthday today so he went to the Wetlands place for the day, on his own, to birdwatch. A linnet was his new bird for the year. He was hoping to see a little crake which was around a couple of days ago, and a semipalmated sandpiper, but no luck. We saw four cranes fly over as we arrived, they're magnificent. Hope you have a good week, despite it being busy. CJ xx

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    1. I would love to see cranes. You must be so delighted at his interest in birds. I'm sure it'll stand him in good stead all his days xx

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  7. I have one of those wire ball feeders. But any red peanuts I put out go mouldy as they completely get ignored. I buy black sunflower seed by the 25kg sackful!

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    1. Peanuts are flying off the shelf here. Nuthatches and coal tits are especially gobbling them up xx

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  8. The pattern on the moths' wings could be exquisite textile patterns. Nature does everything so brilliantly. I'm really enjoying learning about moths here - thank you. Lovely bird pics too. I do love nuthatches. We have peregrines on the cliffs here and I watched a female's aerobatics for a gobsmacking few minutes a couple of days ago. Couldn't capture it on camera though!

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    1. How brilliant to be able to watch peregrines! We have a pair near here but I've not seen them. Glad you are interested in moths- they need all the help and understanding they can get right now.

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  9. Nice selection of moths CT - trapped a Green Brindled Crescent on Friday night (very worn) and there's an Angle Shades on the bathroom window this morning. Live in hope of a MdJ yet again!

    Our bird feeders are not getting many visits at the moment :( Must be plenty of natural food available - certainly have lots of berries in the garden at the moment!

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    1. Have not seen many angle shades at all this year. Def down on previous. I see Martin over at martins moths had an mdj last night in Oxfordshire so they are appearing. Fingers crossed for us both! X

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  10. The merveilles moth is rather lovely. Looks like he/she is wearing a rather 70's retro outfit that has come back into fashion. Merveilles Vintage I say.
    Have a great week! xx

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    1. They are lovely things in the flesh- so unexpected :o)

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  11. Hey CT,
    I have enjoyed the peek inside your moth box....
    I have been enjoying the birds n the garden, and on my wakjs with Honey. We keep seeing a gorgeous Heron near the fishing lake; he's a real beauty. Still lots of butterflies too. Have a great week.
    Leanne xx

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    1. The late autumn sun has been great for many creatures hasn't it? Have a great week, my lovely xx

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  12. Some beautiful moths there - must put my trap out again in the hope of finding a Merveille as there are tons of oaks around here. Lovely photos of the birdies too. xx

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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