Monday, 10 March 2014
A lesson in looking this morning - and in not getting too distracted by an interesting moth. The latter was the Pale Pinion above, a distinctive and slightly unusual species classified as 'local', which is a step up socially on the all but universal 'common'.
I was so beguiled by it, and by my new practice of trying to make a correct and full audit of the eggbox inhabitants, that I nearly missed another 'first' for my tally in 2014. I was just putting things away when a curious isoceles shape on the simple but effective rainshield - above - caught my eye.
It was a March moth, arriving in reasonably timely fashion though others such as Countryside Tales, one of my mothing pals, have had theirs arrive a little more punctually. I then carried on stashing the trap and saw...March moth number 2, above, on the rim of the bulbholder. Thoroughly awake by now, I gave things a final check and spotted this, below:
It was part of March moth number three. Here it is in its full though upside-down glory in my final picture:
Sunday, 9 March 2014
How many moths came to the lamp? 43 in the trap itself and another ten on the window and a nearby wall - the latter including this beautifully patterned Small Brindled Beauty - I think - below whose camouflage was just a little too dark for its surroundings.
The other newcomer was my first Twin-spotted Quaker of 2014, below, and there were a couple of nice Satellites along with 31 Common Quakers, three Clouded Drabs, five Hebrew Characters, a Dotted Border and the chap at the end of this post. I had taken the precaution of finding a notebook and pen before I went out to look at the catch and I'm glad I did.
I'm also glad that I ordered a spare bulb for the trap more than a year ago when my last one failed. When I turned on the lamp last night, I noticed the absence of the usual quiet hum from the choke which governs the mysteries of mercury vapour bulbs, and sure enough the bulb had gone.
Thursday, 6 March 2014
Also in the eggboxes: two Hebrew Characters, six Common Quakers, three Chestnuts, a Dotted Border and two Clouded Drabs - one shown above. We're on the up!
Wednesday, 5 March 2014
Late in the evening, however, it turned very cold and this morning the garden was white with frost. So I imagine this pair of Common Quakers was out on the early side. The only inhabitants of the eggboxes, they bear out my Moth Bible's note that the markings of this small but agreeable species are 'extremely variable'.
Sunday, 2 March 2014
The first of the year's 'non-trap moths' have arrived: both Dotted Borders but in different circumstances. Penny is the Eagle-eye Junior-spy of our family and she spotted this one - topside above, underwings below - on the handily transparent glass panes of our hew front door which has a slightly wonky but evidently moth-attracting old lamp above it.
Then this morning, after finding only a solitary Common Quaker among the eggboxes, I remembered to check the grass and bushes surrounding the lamp. Lo and behold, a second Dotted Border was lurking among some brambles. Here it is.
Saturday, 1 March 2014
The night before, a pair of Common Quakers rounded off February, the one on the right moist with tiny dewdrops because the weather turned rainy in the early hours. My moth tally after a eight nights of lighting the lamp trapping stands at a modest eight species: Chestnut, Clouded Drab, Common Plume (a micro), Common Quaker, Dotted Border, Hebrew Character, Pale Brindled Beauty and Satellite. The Dotted Border is the only one new to me here.
Wednesday, 26 February 2014
I don't feel too stupid asking for help in identifying this battered old soul, above, which was in the trap this morning along with a Dotted Border and a Clouded Drab. I'd hoped to crack it from books or the web because of what appear to be distinctively raked wings; but I can't see anything which gets me shouting 'Bingo!' My best guess is a Lead-coloured Drab. I'd be much obliged for anyone else's views. Update: Many thanks to Ben and Dave for kindly sorting this out in Comments. It's a Common Quaker and if I'd looked more carefully at the one in the previous post, I'd have seen that nice bit of skirting pattern on the wing edge. I think I get misled and baffled by the colours, and need to look more closely at such things as wing shape and pattern. But will I ever..? Thanks v much again, both.
The trap started the night excitingly, with a revival source of light - and much-needed warmth - from the embers of our bonfire. It had been a good day in many respects; we were able to cross the Cherwell for the first time since December on a walk with friends; on reward was a long and mutually curious encounter with this Roe (I think) Deer.
Here are the other two moths and I must now go and have a shower, breakfast and all the rest.
Tuesday, 25 February 2014
It's not really light enough to take photographs outside at the moment, during my brief opportunity between falling out of bed with a yawn and taking Penny the tea. So I brought a couple of eggboxes indoors and that may account for the straphanging expertise shown by the Common Quaker in the top picture. He or she'd be OK on the London Underground.
The various Quaker moths are named for the simplicity of their garb, a Quaker attribute in the movement's early days when Friends also preferred to 'count themselves among the silent of the world'. This didn't mean that they weren't setting a shining example in the way they conducted their lives, but they thought it better not to join the ranting and evangelism which leads to so many problems involving religion. Maybe we could do with more of that restraint in these noisy times - not that I am one to comment, what with blogging, Twitter etc.
The fourth visitor was this somewhat worn Pale Brindled Beauty whose bristly leading edge of the forewing caught my attention. Sorry the focus isn't 20:20 but here are the tooth-like bristles close up. I think it's the right antenna, peeping out from beneath the wing.
Monday, 24 February 2014
The year's first micro-moth has arrived in the common but always striking form of the Common Plume. Its appearance is timely as only yesterday we were worshipping our little granddaughter Emily and the Plume's scientific name is Emmelina. In full, it's Emmelina monodactyla, or 'Emmelina One-winged', as opposed to Emil Wainwright, or 'Emily the maker of haywains'.
I keep thinking that I'll put the trap away again as the takings are so sparse at this time of the year, but the weather last night was very mild, if blowy, and there were another two moths inside the eggboxes this morning: a positive crowd compared to the one-at-at-time pattern up to now. The others were a scruffy Satellite, as ragged as the eggbox it chose but with its spaceship markings nice and clear. And a Chestnut, dozing quietly away at the bottom of the pile.
It was very early when I checked things this morning and the light outside was poor for photography, in my incompetent hands. So I took the Satellite and Emmelina indoors to use Miranda, my little camera tripod - I like all these nice girls' names for moths and pieces of technical equipment - and got the more stable shots with Private Eye in the background.
Interesting to see how light and camera angle change a moth's colouring, as with the two different Satellite pics. Here's a final one of Emmelina too, doing that 'Spitfire banking' thing which children used to do in the playground in my young days (along with a yell of 'Eeeeeeyaaaawwww...du-du-du-du' as you went in for the kill).
Sunday, 23 February 2014
The Dotted Border, which called again on Friday night, is a lovely moth which might make an excellent symbol for the likes of Costa or Starbucks. Here are a couple of pictures of the most recent arrival which perched quietly on th edge of the bulbholder and could easily have scooted off had it not been fast asleep.
Are moths' eyes always open? The question is prompted by the second picture. I haven't time for a full scientific inquiry at the moment but I found this, which I rather liked, on the website www.ButterflyWorkx.com and I hope that it's true:
Here, back on earth, is a picture of my most recent Flat White coffee on which a Dotted Border could probably camouflage itself.
Wednesday, 19 February 2014
In terms of names, this is a cosmopolitan moth. Its English name derives from the resemblance of its strikingly prominent dark markings to the Hebrew letter Nun. Linnaeus added a typeface element to this by calling it Orthosia gothica. There's another UK moth called the Setaceous (or bristly) Hebrew Character which has a similar though slightly less distinctive mark. But they are not related.
I am just old enough to remember a few copies of our Deutsches Leben textbook at school being printed in Fraktur - the German Gothic or Blackletter typeface which was inflicted on that poor country in the name of culture for a large part of the 20th century.
Monday, 17 February 2014
It's a Dotted Border, common but new to my list because I'm normally in bed in February and not inclined to light the lamp. It's another moth, like the Pale Brindled Beauty featured two posts ago, whose female draws the short straw and hasn't any wings, as per Richard Lewington's marvellous pictures from my Moth Bible.
If you look closely, you can see that Mrs and Miss Dotted Border actually fare worse than the lady Pale Brindled Beauties. Insult is added to injury in that they have vestigial wings, but ones which wouldn't get them very far in flight.
Unconcerned by such gender issues, my handsome male Dotted Border was good and lively after a very mild and largely dry night, unlike the zonked-out Dark Chestnut on Sunday morning. I was hoping to get a picture of its pallid underwings with their prominent dark spot, but I moved clumsily and the moth got into a flutter. Before I knew it, it had flown daintily away across the lawn.
Sunday, 16 February 2014
Lo! One moth had; this Dark Chestnut which was as deeply asleep (top pic) as any of the students just down the road after a Valentine's Night bender in Oxford. In their honour, I have made a vaguely heart-shaped close-up of it, above. Update: sorry, my first mis-ID of 2014. So soon... It's a plain Chestnut, not a Dark one (even if it is rather dark). Peter Hall kindly puts me right in a comment on the excellent Upper Thames Moths blog to which I also post. Many thanks to him.
The moth was still asleep when I gently turned it over to rest on my lovely Christmas nightie (whose Scrooge-style matching cap I will feature in due course, later in the year). Another species abroad is the Red Sword-grass; a very nice one was Tweeted to me by a friend of a friend seeking an ID. In the hope of getting one myself, or even that enticingly-named moth the Spring Usher which is also on the wing in these dreary February days, I have turned on the lamp again tonight, in spite of forecasts of the rain coming back.