Thursday, 21 October 2021

Recent Moth Finds.

 With few highlights for me with either butterfly or bird it has been mainly the moths that have given me the odd small highlight. Having run the moth trap a few times on the suitable nights a few species have appeared which I've only caught a few times before with the most spectacular being the wonderful Merveille du Jour. Such a beautiful moth that only when seen on lichens does it become clear why it is coloured the way it is

Merveille du Jour.

Yes, there is a Merveille du Jour there.

On the same night a very nice Red-green Carpet was on the fence and a few Delicate were also in the trap.

Red-green Carpet.


The following trap 2 nights later gave me a superb Clancy's Rustic and Chestnut. Neither of these species are rare here but both examples were the best I've had of these moths.

Clancy's Rustic.


Meanwhile, about a mile away I had a text from Clare saying she had caught a September Thorn and a Gem. Both species I hadn't seen before. 

September Thorn.


Whilst photographing these we also came across a Common Newt in her garden. A brief encounter and a quick grab shot of it followed.

Common Newt.

Numbers have grown recently in the amount of Box-tree moths coming to the traps in the vicinity and I have had several over the past couple of months. Having taken a few shots of the normal colour I did have quite a smart dark form moth recently. I have only managed a few poor shots of this form so I was pleased to get a slightly better photo of this one.

Box-tree Moth. (Dark form).

Sunday, 10 October 2021

Red Admiral.

 A couple of days ago I went for a bike ride and as I took the bike out of the garage I noticed a Red Admiral asleep on the wall. When I returned the butterfly was still there, and I also noticed the pupa case that it had emerged from hanging from a nearby drainpipe.

With the front of the house staying in shadow until the early evening I decided to take the butterfly to the back garden where it would stand a better chance of warming up and feeding before the cold night came. With light winds and quite cloudy conditions it only warmed up slowly which gave me plenty of opportunities to get some photos of the obviously very fresh individual.

Red Admiral posing on Purple Toadflax.

Tuesday, 5 October 2021

The Clearwing Year.

 This was my 3rd year of hunting the rarely seen Clearwing moths. With 15 species in the UK I was pleased to see two thirds of the species this year.

I may one day get over to the West of the country to see the Welsh and the Thrift and just maybe one day I will see the extremely rare Fiery and scarce Hornet Clearwing. The other one I didn't see this year was the Sallow Clearwing which is only regularly seen on even years, as the lifecycle is over 2 years and this is the first year that any have been found on an odd year as far as I know.

It's only a few months of the year when these special moths are found, and the only way to see them easily is with a pheromone lure that imitates virgin females. 

My first Clearwing of the year was the 6th June when I saw both the White-barred Clearwing and the Large Red-belted Clearwing, and my last of the year was the 12th August with the Raspberry Clearwing. Of the 10 seen the only new ones to me were the Currant Clearwing, that I caught in my garden and was the first Seaford record since the 1990s and the Orange-tailed Clearwing, that was also my favourite species and gave me my best photograph of a Clearwing this year.

White-barred Clearwing.

Large Red-belted Clearwing.

Currant Clearwing.

Yellow-legged Clearwing.

Six-belted Clearwing (showing variable sizes).

Six-belted Clearwing.

Orange-tailed Clearwing.

Red-tipped Clearwing.

Red-belted Clearwing.

Lunar Hornet Clearwing.

Raspberry Clearwing.

Three of these were caught in the garden which without the pheromone lures I would never have known I had these insects so close to home.

I would also like to thank Derek Barber and Dave Palmer for their help and encouragement in the searches for them all.

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Hairstreak Hunt

 A few weeks ago Matt and I were leading a tour for Naturetrek with a target of several late summer downland butterflies. 

The previous week Pete and I went to a couple of sites that just needed checking out to make sure they were suitable for the forthcoming trip. As it turned out it was a very worthwhile exercise.

With plenty of Adonis Blue and Autumn Ladies Tresses seen we then headed for one of the Brown Hairstreak sites where we were treated to a couple of very nice female Brown Hairstreak. There were plenty of other delights at both sites and therefore day one of the tour was sorted!!

Autumn Ladies Tresses.

Mating Adonis Blues.

Adonis Blue enjoying a Carline Thistle.

Several Male Adonis Blue getting minerals from a dead Rabbit, along with many Flies and Wasps also tucking in.

A beautiful  male Yellow Belle.

Female Brown Hairstreak.

Common Lizard on a post.

Saturday, 25 September 2021

In and Around the Garden.

 In what has been pretty disappointing catches in the moth trap recently, I was very surprised and pleased to catch a Lace Border, one I assume that had come from my little local colony. This perhaps shows that the colony may be looking to expand out from its main area?

Lace Border.

Clare sometime ago gave me a tub of Purple Toadflax in the hope that I may get some Toadflax Brocade larva in the not too distant future. This is a moth I've only caught a couple of times before, but is one that she gets quite a few of, so when I found 3 larva on the plant this week I expect the eggs were already on the plant when she passed it on to me. A stunning looking larva and hopefully in the Spring I will get some adult moths to lay more eggs for next year.

Toadflax Brocade larva.

Meanwhile on a potted Willow, also in the garden a couple of Grey Dagger are enjoying eating the leaves. Another really good looking species in the larval stage.

Grey Dagger larva.

Going back to Clare, she recently caught a Sombre Brocade in her trap, this is a moth that is possibly  beginning to colonise parts of the South East, although her capture is only the 3rd for East Sussex, and possibly Sussex as a whole?

Sombre Brocade.

Birdlife migrating through the garden has been slightly better than usual this year with 3 notable birds in the past couple of weeks. A Common Redstart and Spotted Flycatcher were here at the same time and just a few days later a young Pied Flycatcher appeared.

Spotted Flycatcher.

In the meadow at the back of the house I found a Vestal during the week. This is a small migrant moth and one that isn't seen too often.


In the same meadow I also found a very sad looking Knot Grass larva that had come to a very sticky end as it had been parasitized by something very horrible.

Parasitized Knott Grass larva.

Sunday, 19 September 2021

Early Autumnal Walks.

 It doesn't seem possible that it now seems Autumn is just about here. Fortunately, the past week has been reasonable weather-wise, with light winds (at last) and some sunshine.

A few strolls out and about have given me a few opportunities to photograph a few bits of interest, both along a stretch of river and some local woodlands.

It is quite a good time of year to look out for some immature stages amongst the insects, and several nice caterpillars have been found, it was also good to see the Willow Emerald numbers have built up in one of my local colonies. It is also a good time for getting the odd surprise as some 3rd brood butterflies get going. This week alone I've seen some fresh Wall Brown, Brown Argus and the gorgeous Small Copper. Red Admirals seem to be everywhere as does some very fresh Comma.

Young Knot Grass larva.

Female Wasp Spider.



Adder. (melanic form).

Speckled Bush Cricket.

Mating Willow Emerald.

Birch Mocha larva.

Birch Mocha larva green form.

The bizarre looking Scalloped Hook-tip larva.

A stunning Small Copper that was very much enjoying the Fleabane.