Sunday 30 March 2014

Speckled Wood, and other butterflies

A pristine Speckled Wood was in my garden this afternoon (30 March) - it looked strikingly handsome and large compared to the smaller, oranger specimens of the southern European form, which I saw on Mallorca on a recent holiday. This is my second earliest garden record, not quite beating 2012 (25 March) but much earlier than 2013 (8 May).

On a walk around Llandaff North this afternoon (mostly Hailey Park) I recorded a total of 18 Small Tortoiseshell, 9 Peacock, 2 Comma, 2 Brimstone (males) and 1 Red Admiral. This is far more butterflies than I've ever seen previously on a single day in Cardiff in early spring.


Coming soon...

Ok, I know you've heard this one before, once or twice, over the past five (six?, seven?, eight?) years... but the Moths of Glamorgan (by Gilmore, Slade & Stewart) might actually get published very soon. It (should be) going to the printers tomorrow, and will (or at least should) be out by the end of April. I'll keep you posted of course, and there is still an element of 'I'll believe it when I see it', but we really might be getting there now!

Touch and Go

Yesterday evening I went out with the Skinner trap, for the first time this year and although the generator gave me cause for concern and threatened to cut the session short (it was behaving just like yours, George) it all managed to keep working and a successful evening had. I really should have trapped in one of the under recorded squares, but for the first of the season I chose a familiar site instead, so went to my beloved Werfa colliery.
The weather was pretty good, with thin cloud, a starting temperature of 10.60 C at 19:10, when the trap was lit, dropping to 5.00 C by 00:15, when I switched off. Although breezy, that didn't cause any problems and the moths kept coming despite it.

In all I had 21 identified species and good numbers of individuals, including an amazing 147 Common Quaker. The full list is as follows.

Ypsolopha ustella x 1
Diurnea fagella x 13
Yellow Horned x 6
March Moth x 18
Shoulder Stripe x 2
Mottled Grey x 6
Early Tooth-striped x 5
Early Thorn x 1
Pale Brindled Beauty x 1
Brindled Beauty x 2
Oak Beauty x 16
The Engrailed x 5
Small Quaker x 16
Powdered Quaker x 1
Common Quaker x 147
Clouded Drab x 41
Twin-spotted Quaker x 12
Hebrew Character x 7
Grey Shoulder-knot x 1
Early Grey x 3
The Chestnut x 1

I think I know what is wrong with the generator, George. I'll get to work on the problem today and if I'm correct and the fix works, I'll be in touch with you directly, to let you know.

Friday 28 March 2014

Kenfig saltmarsh yesterday.

                            Female Emperor moth.

Friday 21 March 2014

Late News

Peter Douglas-Jones reported to me on 10th March "Hummingbird Hawk-moth in my garden [Langland] quarter of an hour ago: the second I have seen in the garden in 39 years here."
Unfortunately it was sent to my old email address; an issue now resolved.

Thursday 20 March 2014

Bridgend garden - trapping 16th March 2014

Our second trapping of the year was a good one with two new species for the garden in Oak Beauty and Pine Beauty. This followed another first in the form of Pale Pinion in our first trapping of the year on 08 Mar14. Over the years we've either been busy with kids or the weather has been poor. So we are exploring March mothing properly for the first time in real terms.

MV trapping produced:- 1 Brindled Beauty, 1 Oak Beauty, 1 Pine Beauty, 3 Common Quaker, 2 Clouded Drab, 4 Hebrew Character, 1 Pale Pinion and 6 Early Grey.

The three new species take our garden list to 349 (254 macro) since we moved here in 2004.

Mike & Emma Cram

Friday 14 March 2014

Rudry woodland

Checking my Rudry dormouse boxes today in preparation for the coming season this micro,Semioscopis avellanella resting on a box .

Abercregan last night.

                                  Pine beauty (x2)
                                 Oak beauty (x2).
                                 Also Common quaker 4, Hebrew character 2 and
                                 a single Red chestnut. Trapped 8PM (7 degrees) to
                                 11PM ( 4 degrees).

Tuesday 11 March 2014

Parc Slip

Set the trap last night despite it being forecast to get pretty cold. Thermometer recorded a low of 2.2 but still managed the best haul so far this year. 12 species in all and a number of firsts for the year.

Clouded drab 13
Common quaker 10
Hebrew character 5
Oak beauty 5
Early grey 2
Small quaker 2
Dotted border 1
Brindled beauty 1
Chestnut 1
Red chestnut 1
Pale pinion 1
Diurnea fagella 1

Monday 10 March 2014

Oranges are in season

I saw my first Orange Underwing of the year this afternoon. On my way back into Cardiff I stopped to look on the bracken slope to the north of Coryton Interchange, where there are a number of birches, and saw a single Orange Underwing flying around the top of one of them at 4:15pm. This appears to be the earliest record for VC41, the previous earliest being 15 March 1999 when Richard Pryce saw one at Bedlinog.

I also checked the pylon ride through Greenmeadow Wood, just to the north of the bracken slope, but didn't see any there. I saw good numbers in this area on 23rd March 2012, so they are probably only just starting to emerge.


Gorseinon trap boots up for the start of another year

Our garden is never particularly productive in March, so 7 spp for our first session of the year was not too bad, the only thing of any note being a Dark Sword-grass. Do we know if this species overwinters or is this likely to be a migrant?

Yesterday I disturbed a 20-plume moth in the garden and among the usual crop of early butterflies we counted a minimum of 22 Brimstones in Penllergaer Woods with a male-to-female a ratio of 21:1 - lucky girl! No sign of Orange Underwings in what looks like could be an excellent area for them.

Sunday 9 March 2014

Coed y bedw last night

I left two 6W actinics overnight at Coed-y-bedw...I'd have preferred to do this on Friday night when the weather was better, but had other commitments. The car themometer was showing 3 degrees C when I arrived on site this morning, but it was still a healthy 10C at dusk and the catch was pretty decent, with 12 species in all.

Tortricodes alternella 1
Diurnea fagella 1
Yellow Horned 2
Pale Brindled Beauty 4 (1 f. monacharia)
Dotted Border 7 (1 ab. fuscata)
Oak Beauty 1
March Moth 6
Engrailed 3
Chestnut 3
Clouded Drab 1
Common Quaker 1
Satellite 1

Always nice to see Yellow Horned.

One of the two trap sites
Pale Brindled Beauty f. monacharia
Yellow Horned

Saturday 8 March 2014

GMS Week 2

Last night in Llandaff North:

March Moth 2
Small Quaker 1
Common Quaker 1
Hebrew Character 1
Early Grey 1

By my garden's standards, this is an excellent catch for early March, and more moths than I caught in the whole of March last year.

It is encouraging that the mild, wet winter doesn't seem to have had too much impact on the spring-flying moths.

Friday 7 March 2014

National Butterfly Recorders’ Meeting 22nd March

A plug on behalf of BC:

This is a reminder about the National Butterfly Recorders’ Meeting to be held in Birmingham on 22nd March. Further details and a full programme can be found here:

Anyone interested in butterflies is welcome, however we do require advanced booking and there is a (heavily subsidised) fee of £5 per person (pay on the day) to help cover the costs of venue hire, tea/coffee and buffet lunch.

If you would like to attend please book a place in advance via or 01929 400209 providing your name, address, contact details and any specific dietary requirements.

Best wishes,


Ian Middlebrook

Thursday 6 March 2014

Agonopterix ciliella

Hopefully, you can just make out the very feint lines in the terminal cilia - these are the hairs that stick out from the edge of the wings, in this case the hind wings. It's not terribly clear as the photo was taken with the cheap office camera, down the new office microscopes, with the moth in a tube. Agonopterix ciliella has five bands in the terminal cilia, whilst heracliana only has one. So I can make out two at the edge of the wing in this photo, and could see a third on the live moth 'in the hand', so it couldn't be heracliana.

I couldn't get the heracliana to pose properly, but I couldn't see any lines at all on that one.

Parc Slip

After weeks of 1,2 or, more usually, 0 moths in the trap, last night finally provided a decent haul with a minimum temperature of 8 degrees.

Pale Brindled Beauty 1
Dotted Border 1
March Moth 1
Clouded Drab 5
Hebrew Character 5
Common Quaker 6
Chestnut 3
Shoulder-stripe 1
And these 2 micros...
Is this Acleris hastiana (apologies for qualities of photos...)
And the closest I could get with this one was Agonopterix heracliana?

Wednesday 5 March 2014

Diurnea fagella

Just retrieved a single Diurnea fagella from the trap.  It's not only the first moth of 2014 for me, but new for the garden record, and looks like a very early record for the species: the phenology query in Mapmate shows the earliest as 3rd March. 


Before last night's BC committee I potted up three of the many Agonopterix/Depresssaria that had been attracted to the lights at the reserve building at Kenfig, fully expecting them all to be Agonopterix heracliana. I was delighted this morning to find that I had Depressaria daucella, Agonpterix heracliana and Agonopterix ciliella. It's a shame I couldn't catch some more in the end!

Saturday 1 March 2014

Small tortoiseshell

First butterfly of the year today, a small Tortoiseshell in the garden.