Sunday, 7 April 2019

Woodland Wonders

Firhill Covert, Worlingham

With only our second trip to these lovely private woods, we were hoping for better conditions.  Although it was cloudy and calm, the temperature had barely reached double figures during the day and was only 9 degrees when we arrived.

The 2 Robinson's traps were situated along a ride in the Birch Wood with the Wemlite traps and base camp in the mixed woodland area.

Birch Wood

Base Camp Under Gloomy Skies

We were all set up with 3 mercury vapour lights, 2 Wemlites and a 7 watt LED well before darkness.  Sitting at base camp having our first cup of coffee, all we could do was wait for the moths to arrive.... Now were weren't expecting some kind of biblical swarm of moths. Realistically, we couldn't even expect a steady stream of moths considering the run of cold, windy weather we'd been getting recently.  However, we were expecting something to arrive soon after dark..... but nothing came!  At 8:05pm we decided that waiting for the moths was not the best idea as it was too cold and damp to just sit there.  We decided to head for the Birch wood to check on the two Robinson's traps; it was, at last, dark and there should be moths, surely?

As we wandered down the hill towards the traps, I spotted a semi-mature Birch Tree with gloriously white patches of bark, glowing in the light of our head-torches.  As I began to say "A logiana would be nice on that tree" I spotted something.  Surely not? With fewer than 150 records of Acleris logiana in Suffolk, finding one was always going to be a case of either hours of painstaking searches or complete luck... Well tonight it was all about the luck!  There, about 2 metres above the ground was our first ever Acleris logiana!  It was beautifully camouflaged against the bark and I really wanted a photo of it in situ.  I ran back to base camp to grab my phone and ring flash and I managed to get a few phone snaps before the light spooked it and it flew off.  

Acleris logiana

It's not often we start the night with the best moth but it was obvious that we were not likely to beat that!  A round of the traps produced several Common Quakers and a Chestnut.  We also checked every suitable-looking Birch tree hoping to find more Acleris logiana  but without success.  We did find a couple of species of bagworm on an old Oak Tree.  These case-baring caterpillars graze to lichen-covered bark of many mature trees in the are but are massively under-recorded due to their size and camouflage.

Luffia lapidella

Narycia duplicella
The home-made Wemlite traps were, by now, beginning to catch moths; a Twin-spotted Quaker and several more Common Quakers were added to the list.

Twin-spotted Quaker

Common Quaker and a photo-bombing centipede


The mercury vapour bulbs were the biggest draw for moths and several more species were added quite quickly including an Early Thorn and a lovely Red Chestnut

Red Chestnut

Early Thorn  

We were slowly but steadily building up a reasonable list of species for the evening but it was cold and there were times when it seemed like the flow of moths was drying up.  We started packing up the Wemlite traps first, then the Robinson's traps.Here are some more from our final round of the traps:

Early Grey

Another Chestnut

Diving Beetle

Double-striped Pug

Clouded Drab

Nicely marked Common Quaker

Vapourer Moth Eggs - Found near a trap

There was one moth that we had been hoping to see this evening: the Frosted Green.  Although seldom abundant, we were quietly confident that some would turn up tonight but with all but one trap packed away, we'd given up hope of seeing one here...but then again, the night had started with a massive stroke of luck so maybe there was still a chance?

While Peter was sorting out reels and equipment, I picked up the LED trap and brought it back to base camp to check it.  I could see moths inside which was a surprise as it hadn't caught anything up to 10pm when I'd last checked it.  Inside there was a Clouded Drab, Common Quaker and, would you believe it?.... our target moth for the night: Frosted Green!

Frosted Green

So all-in-all, a highly satisfactory session with a real feel of quality over quantity although 14 species is a decent number for a cold night in early Spring.

Acleris logiana 1
Common Quaker 51
Twin spotted Quaker 1
Chestnut 3
Luffia 2
Narycia duplicella 2
Red Chestnut 1
Early Grey 2
Hebrew Character 5
Early Thorn 1
Double striped Pug 1
Clouded Drab 6
Vapourer eggs
Frosted Green 1
78 moths of 14 species

No comments:

Post a Comment