Archive for August, 2010

Moth trap

Monday, August 30th, 2010

I still have problems with my left leg, and can’t do any walking at the moment – very frustrating!

However, to help cheer myself up  and keep me occupied, I have bought a moth trap. I have been vaguely interested in moths for two or three years, ever since learning that they had such intriguing names as Setaceous Hebrew Character and The Uncertain.

The trap is basically a bright light above a box with a perspex roof. The moths are attracted to the light, and drop throgh a hole in the perspex and largely fail to get out. I run the trap overnight, getting up early to collect any moths outside the trap before the birds find them, then photograph the moths and try to identify them. I release the moths when it gets dark again.

So far I’ve run the trap twice, setting it up overnight here in my parent’s back garden (probably a good location, with many mature gardens around and several mature trees about, plus open fields nearby). You can see how I’ve got on on this thread on the Wild About Britain web site:  (I’m grateful to the people on that site who help me so much with my identifications).

The results from my first night’s trapping were very encouraging, with no less than 34 species of moth found (27 of which I’d never seen before):

Setaceous Hebrew Character x10+
Brimstone x2
Riband Wave x3
Orange Swift x3
Blood-vein x1
Willow Beauty x2
Mother of Pearl x3
Maiden’s Blush x1
Swallow Prominent x1
Lesser Swallow Prominent x1
Small Magpie x1
Common Wainscot x2
Flame Shoulder x1
Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing x10+
Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing x1
Tawny Speckled Pug x2
Mint Moth x2
Spectacle x1
Lesser Yellow Underwing x2
Large Yellow Underwing x4
Copper Underwing x1
Dark Arches x2
Straw Dot x1
Six-stripe Rustic x3
Square-Spot Rustic x4
Shuttle-shaped Dart x1
Garden Pebble x2
Common Rustic x4
Eudonia mercurella x1
Straw Underwing x1
Vine’s Rustic x1
Flounced Rustic x1
Endotricha flammealis x1
Agapeta hamana x1

A week later, I ran the trap a second time. The conditions were less favourable (clearer skies – the theory is that moths confuse a bright light for the moon, and so trapping works best on cloudy nights when the moon is obscured) but I still managed to find 21 species (four new to me):

Lesser Broad-barred Yellow Underwing x6
Mouse Moth x1
Lunar Underwing x2
August Thorn x1 (I’m claiming it, but happy to see what others think about it)
Large Yellow Underwing x21
Riband Wave x1
Brimstone x5
Garden Carpet x1
Mother of Pearl x2
Square-spot Rustic x13
Orange Swift x4
Willow Beauty x2
Double-striped Pug x1
Setaceous Hebrew Character x9
Burnished Brass x2
Dark Arches x2
Straw Underwing x1
Common Rustic agg x1
Straw Dot x2
Garden Pebble x1

Garden Rose Tortrix x1

The numbers are not 100% accurate but give an idea of how many of each species I saw. I was delighted to see some Setaceous Hebrew Characters, it was their name that first prompted an interets in moths. The most colourful moths I’ve seen so far are the Orange Swifts and Burnished Brass, but th Lesser Swallow Prominent and Swallow Prominent were quite impressive too.

It’s certainly an addictive hobby, I’m really looking forward to next weekend when I’ll run the trap again. You shouldn’t trap too often in the same place as you’ll likely get the same months again. I’m planning on running the trap weekly into the autumn, then monthly during winter. 

General update

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

Well, it’s been a long time since I wrote anything on this blog! I am currently suffering from foot and leg problems that are preventing me from doing any long walks, so I thought I’d spend some time writing a general update for this blog about what I’m doing now.

I think the reason I got out of the habit of blogging was that I started a ‘Latest Walks’ section on my web site, and so would write up my walks there rather than on this blog. I did intend using the blog for non-walk related things, but then a problem occurred when I switched to using the Opera web browser. I found it far better than Internet Explorer, but unfortunately there are one or two sites it doesn’t seem to be compatible with, including this blogging site. When I tried writing a blog entry, each new line appeared ABOVE the previous line. So it meant I had to open IE each time I wanted to blog, and I gradually got out of the habit.

The big change since my last entry here is that I have had to go back to work. Having ‘retired’ at the end of 2002 and spent several happy years wandering the countryside and learning more about the natural world, I suddenly hit severe financial problems (not entirely my own fault). It took me just over a year to then find a job – not having worked for 6-7 years, I was extremely lucky to finally get a job as a Software Tester again.

I now work for a company in Huntingdon, Cambs., living in ‘digs’ in Huntingdon during the week and returning to my parents’ home in Kensworth, Beds., at the weekends.I have now been in the job six months (I started1st February 2010) and it has gone well so far. The people I work with are very nice and very helpful, and it is certainly a pleasanter place to work than my last job when I was contracting at BT. But I have found it a real strain going back to work after so long. Having had so many years where my time was all my own to do whatever I liked, I now find the working day very long indeed! Particularly on fine days, it’s hard not to think about how much I’d rather be outside on a 15-mile walk or exploring a nature reserve.

I had hoped to continue walking and to walk both days at weekends, but usually this hasn’t happened (either due to lethargy and/or too many chores to do)  so I am generally only doing one long walk each weekend, which I then write up and put on my web site a few days later.

During the spring and summer months I have occasionally visited a few nature reserves around Huntingdon in the evenings – Grafham Water, Paxton Pits, Monk Woods and Woodwalton Fen. The last I only discovered a couple of weeks ago, but intend to visit it regularly from now on. On my first visit I found no less than 10 wildflowers that I’d not seen before, and there are also lots of dragonflies and moths. I am getting more and more interested in moths – next year I hope to buy a moth trap and start trapping and photographing them regularly.

As usual, I have been using the WildAboutBritain web site to have my new finds identified. This summer I have been to two meetings of members of the web site, firstly at Ivinghoe Beacon and College Lake in Buckinghamshire (which I arranged)  and then one at Thursley Common in Surrey. On both occasions it was really good to meet up with other people interested in the natural world, and there were plenty of new flowers, dragonflies, etc., for me to discover.

I hope to continue using this blog to write up my visits to nature reserves, etc., while my walks will appear under ‘Latest Walks’ on my web site.