Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Common - but a welcome sight!

An Article by Heather Martin

It's always exciting to find uncommon species but after such a long, cold winter and a slow start to Spring it's reassuring to see some familiar common species re-emerging on the occasional warm and sunny May day.

The 18th was one such day. Speckled Yellow moths (Pseudopanthera macularia) fluttered along the main track through our wood, often pausing to rest on foliage at the edges. Their distinctive patterning of brown blotches on a yellow background makes it impossible to confuse them with any other species. They are a common sight in open woodland especially in the south of England from mid-May to late June. The larvae can be found feeding predominantly on Wood Sage (Teucrium scorodonia) between June and August, then the pupa spends the winter either underground or in plant debris.

A much smaller moth with metallic wings and very long antennae - a female Adela reaumurella, was also spotted sitting on a leaf in the sun. This is another common Spring species often seen dancing in small swarms around the outer branches of Hazel and Oak trees. The male has even longer antennae.

A male micro moth with equally impressive but pectinate or comb-like antennae is Incurvaria masculella. Commonly found in woodland and gardens throughout the country, its larva mines the leaves of Hawthorn.

We watched a pair of Green-veined White butterflies (Pieris napi) dance in a clearing then settle on Bugle flowers (Ajuga reptans) - common maybe but their presence certainly added to our enjoyment of the morning.

What makes these common species precious is the very fact that they can be seen in numbers on warm days, giving us a sense that life is thriving all around us and contributing to our feeling of general well-being.

All pictures by Heather Martin; 21/05/2013

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Moth Trapping BHW May 2013

On Friday (11th May 2013) evening we officially started our moth trapping season with our first visit to Brede High Wood.
I left home in bright sunshine but upon arrival to Brede High Wood it was getting just a little chilly and the sky was becoming progressively more overcast as dusk approached. 

We set up six moth traps in total, some in the open and others under the trees.  

It was not the most productive of nights as it was still rather cold, however we got nineteen species in total.

The Drinker Euthrix potatoria
Flame Shoulder  Ochropleura plecta
Nut-tree Tussock  Colocasia coryli
Common Quaker Orthosia cerasi
Hebrew Character Orthosia gothica
Lunar Marbled Brown Drymonia ruficornis
Nut-tree Tussock  Colocasia coryli
Lobster Moth Stauropus fagi
Purple Thorn Selenia tetralunaria
Brindled Pug Eupithecia abbreviata
Pebble Prominent Notodonta ziczac
Great Prominent Peridea anceps
Scarce Prominent Odontosia carmelita
Water Carpet Lampropteryx suffumata
Scalloped Hook-tip Falcaria lacertinaria
Coxcomb Prominent Ptilodon capucina
V Pug Chloroclystis v-ata
Small Phoenix Ecliptopera silaceata
Engrailed Ectropis bistortata

Some of these species are included in the photographs below;
Coxcomb Prominent: picture by Heather Martin
Scarce Prominent: Picture by Heather Martin
Lunar Marbled Brown: Picture by Heather Martin

Small Phoenix: Picture by Heather Martin
Water Carpet: Picture by Heather Martin
V-pug: Picture by Heather Martin

 As always, our thanks to David Bonsall and the Woodland Trust for permission to moth trap in Brede High Wood.

Bonus Butterfly Section
I saw my first Dingy Skipper (Erynnis tages) butterfly of the season today (Sunday 12th May), however it was in Kent, near Pembury Hospital on the RSPB reserve.

"Kentish Dingy Skipper" or is it "Dingy Skipper of Kent"?

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Set Theory

Springtime Skippers Event Report 4th May 2013

Update 7th May 2013
Law of Cussedness:- I saw my first Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus malvae) of the year in Barnes Wood today.
Origianl photograph
Enlarged and cropped

There is a mathematical construct known as the ‘empty set’. It is exemplified by the set of ‘no apples’, which unsurprisingly, is equal to the set of ‘no oranges’. For completeness, the empty set is a subset of every other set. So yesterday at my Sussex Butterfly Conservation, Springtime Skippers Event at Barnes Wood in East Sussex, I experienced the set of ‘no butterflies’; yet another fine example of the empty set.

The spring has been delayed by about a month this year and the Skippers are yet to emerge.

Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus malvae); Currently only appearing in my dreams! Photograph by Peter Eeles; UK Butterflies
Fortunately our group contained people who are top notch on birdsong. So my heartfelt thanks to Linda, Lyn and Anna who saved the day with instructive identifications of Chiffchaff (Fringilla coelebs), Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes), the scuttlebutt among birdwatchers is that scientific name for the Wren is derived from the belief that they inhabited caves(?), Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos), Coal Tit (Periparus ater), Great Tit (Parus major), Black Cap (Sylvia atricapilla),Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus), Greater Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major observed) and Robin (Erithacus rubecula). My contribution was Herring Gull (Larus argentatus), which I now realise I may have called wrong. The gulls are harder to identify by their sound than I originally presumed.

Sadly no slugs this year (beautiful or otherwise), so the invertebrate interest was confined to a Green Tiger Beetle (Cicindela campestris), a White-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lucorum), a Common Carder bee (Bombus pascuorum) and a Glow Worm larva (Lampyris noctiluca) kindly photographed for me by Nigel Symington.
Glow worm larvae Photo by Nigel Symington

Green Tiger Beetle: Photo by Heather Martin
 The (non empty) set of patient and good humoured event attendees were {Dave, Martyn, Nigel, Anna, Peter, Don, Clare, Linda, Lyn, Heather, Rodney, Lindsay, Scott and two year old Maria}.  
The Beech Woods in Vinehall Forest
Jim Barrett