Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Westleton and Dunwich

Forest and Heath 9.6.19

I had been keeping a beast eye on the weather forecast all week... having missed out on a trip the previous weekend due to family commitments we were eager to make the most of promising conditions this time around. 

As forcast, Sunday's weather was rather lovely and a real contrast to the dismal conditions of the day before.  Myself and Peter,  along with my wife and kids, decided to head for a favourite spot of mine; Westleton Common.  With a soundtrack of purring Turtle Doves and the occasional melancolic warblings of a half-hearted Nightingale,  we strolled around the Common looking for some mothy delights.  The kids seemed to enjoy the area anyway but the sight of a sandy hill to run up filled them with delight! 

Westleton Common 

Armed with a net each,  Peter,  my son Nathan and myself searched the Common one section at a time in search of some heathland specialities.  On the target list were Cydia ulicetana,  Grapholita internana and Pempelia palumbella, all of which I had seen there before but would be new for Peter.  There was no sign of any Grapholita internana around any of the Gorse however there were still plenty of Cydia ulicetana albeit rather worn. Nathan was getting rather handy with the net and was catching or spotting all sorts.  First off Nathan spotted a smart Cinnabar which didn't need netting as it was instantly recognisable. We also found a Painted Lady, Red Admiral and Green Hairstreak. 

After a lovely walk and just as we were starting to think about heading to the pub for lunch,  Nathan called "Butterfly!". I turned around to see our first ever Cream-spot Tiger flying towards me.  It landed in a gorse bush near by and I was able to carefully net it so that we could all have a good look.  Great spot Nathan! 

Cream-spot Tiger 

The list of what we saw at Westleton Common:

Cinnabar
Painted Lady
Green Hairstreak
Cydia ulicetana x9
Pempelia palumbella
Yellow shell x2
Scoparia ambigualis 
Pempelia genistella
Cydia spendana
Latticed heath
Cream-spot Tiger


Dunwich Forest 

So onto the main event... the forecast had been for a sunny day, clouding over in the evening with a small chance of rain. That forecast had been the same all week.  So far so good as we drove to our usual spot in the forest at around 8.45pm. Then to my horror,  it started to rain... a quick check of BBC weather and the small chance of early rain was now 96%. Not a great start! 

Luckily the rain didn't get going but the increased threat meant that we didn't put out all the traps and we also kept the cables simple.  Fishing umbrella over one generator and a camping chair over the other! 

Darkness fell and with the temperature holding up at 15° C with a gentle breeze it looked very promising.  Predictably the first moth to base camp was a Common Swift followed soon after by a moth that sends to have been on the wing for months already... Scalloped Hook-tip.

Scalloped Hook-tip 

With conditions so good,  it wasn't long before moths were arriving thick and fast to the sheet at base camp. It wasn't long before we had our first new moths of the night.  Cream Wave appeared rally and continued to arrive all night; some were very worn and almost white but some were perfect and showed all the features well. 

Cream Wave

Other early arrivals came in the form of Pebble and Oak Hook-tips and another new moth for me; Brindled White-spot. 

Oak Hook-tip

Pebble Hook-tip 

Brindled White-spot 

Then came the first surprise of the night... after having seen our first only a few hours before on a warm and sunny Westleton Common, another Cream-spot Tiger dropped onto the sheet!  We had joked saying we'd probably end up catching 10 before the end of the session.... 

Not surprisingly,  it took us a long time to do a round of the traps; each trap held several new species as well as moths flying in and around the traps constantly.  Amazingly each trap had at least 1 or 2 more Cream-spot Tigers inside and catching 10 looked like a possibility! 

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