The last time the box went out (9th Dec), the temperature dropped to -1.8 and, although a Winter Moth bravely sat on the outside of the front door, in the morning there were no moths waiting for me in the box itself :-(
I thought perhaps the season had ended, because although there are moths flying every month of the year here in the UK, they are very thin on the ground (or in the air I suppose) in terms of numbers, and you don't always get them visiting light boxes. I was disappointed, because I hadn't yet seen a December Moth and they are one of my favourites. Chocolate coloured and very fluffy. We had them here last year on Dec 5th but I figured I'd just managed to miss them this year.
Anyhoo, my week quietened down as of last night so I decided to try again. Poppy and I carefully put the box out (she is very helpful in these matters but does tend towards over-enthusiasm and an insistence on being very involved in everything, which can translate into me tripping over her) and lit the lamp just before nightfall. Within minutes it began to rain heavily. Oh well, I thought rather glumly, that's probably that. The temperature, however, remained high. My weather station cheerfully informed me when I checked this morning that far from dropping as the night wore on, the temperature actually increased from a low of 11.5 to a whopping 12.6 degrees :o)
And guess what I found when I went out at 6.30 with a head torch......? Only thirty of these.......
I couldn't believe it: they were everywhere. 25 were asleep on the gate/ fence/ plants/ wall, and the other 5 were in the box fluttering about banging into each other and waking up the other moths.
Other moths? I hear you cry. Surely not?!
Yes indeed. Not many it has to be said but there were four other species in the box which is a lot more than I was expecting.
There was a beautiful Mottled Umber whom we have all seen before because I posted his pic a couple of months back....
A gorgeous Red-Green Carpet....
And a Dark Chestnut and a small something (some kind of micro) who escaped before I got an ID.
Two of today's batch are new for the year, taking my 2014 moth species total up to 307, which is about 70 more than last year.
I also found a caterpillar wiggling about. Not sure who he is (a moth, obviously, but which one?). I'm waiting an ID confirmation....
So I'm a Happy Moth Bunny and it just goes to show that you shouldn't give up on things :o)
The other thing I wanted to tell you all about is the Hedge Laying practical we engaged ourselves with yesterday. I did it last year too and it has to be said we were a lot better at it second time round. It's an old countryside skill, making a living hedge out of pleaching and bending a line of trees and it really looks lovely when it's done well. The methods vary from county to county and we were following The National Hedgelaying Society's way of doing it (essentially this is to do with the way you fold the binders in at the top).
|Initially, trees are planted in a line ready to be cut at a later date to create the hedge. The tree is cut almost but not quite right through with just enough connection left for it to remain alive.|
|The branches are then laid almost flat to the ground, one over the other as you can see in the right of the pic|
|6 foot Stakes are driven into the centre of the laid branches in a straight line at approx 18" apart, and banged into the ground with a mallet until they are secure|
|Binders (long whippy sections of hazel or ash) are sliced diagonally at one end using an axe to create point|
|Each binder is threaded into the hedge under the two previous binders and woven around each stake alternately (boy did we have fun trying to work that one out and make sure each binder had gone in correctly).|
|The external (and visible) sections of the hedge are then trimmed to neaten the appearance of it and any stray branches are woven in more securely.|
|When all the binders are in they are banged down to waist height and the tops of the stakes are trimmed|
|Finally, the tops of the stakes are cut to create a point|
After all our hard work we celebrated the end of term with a bbq in the woods and ate sausages, cake and mincepies (I made the cakes and pies).
|Uncle Dave manning the sausages :o)|
|You can't beat a Victoria Sponge|
|The mincepies are tasting reassuringly alcoholic now they've been around for a few days|
|Cal kept a close eye on the cake....|
George had bought marshmallows which were toasted over the fire and Fi won the competition for the best marshmallow toaster.
It was a cracking day and a lovely end to the term. I am now on Christmas Mode gearing up for the festive season and looking forward to some time off. How about you?
I'll leave you with a pic of the Doggy Folk, who are getting very excited indeed about opening their presents (really? says M sceptically). I have got them each a squeaky toy and Pop also has a ball because they are her favorite things in the whole wide world and L won't let her play with the one she really likes because it's a cricket ball granny bought him and he's worried it'll get ruined. She is in need of a bath as she managed to roll in Fox Poo while out on our walk this morning and is now very stinky indeed (revolting child), and equally determined to go to sleep on my lap, so her bath is my next job. Then I am going to sit down with a bowl of chicken soup and catch up with what you've all been up to.
Hope all are well?