Sunday, 15 July 2018

A colonising species

Last year I posted about the first garden records of the micro-moth Blastobasis rebeli. Over the course of July 2017 four individuals were recorded, and these may well have been the first records for Surrey. This morning another two appeared at the MV. It now seems more than likely that they are now resident in the area. It is still a rare moth across most of southern England, with a sprinkling of records in Hampshire and Sussex, and the first for Kent appeared last week. As for Surrey? It would seem unlikely that they are not already elsewhere. I think it's fair to suggest that we will all be seeing a lot more of Blastobasis rebeli...

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Hedya salicella

Micro moths can be, and often are, overlooked. They can be too small, too numerous and too alike. But we are lucky nowadays as there are many sources of reference that are added to each and every day, both in print and particularly on-line. Digital photography has enabled the most modest of budgets to produce crystal-clear and detailed images of the moths, not only to be used as an immediate tool to identify the species but also to add to this reference body. It still takes effort to build up a working knowledge of them and not all are identifiable on external features alone, but most can be. Above is Hedya salicella, which is quite distinctive and fairly straight forward to identify (so I am led to believe!). If it were the size of a Large Yellow Underwing then it would be celebrated, but its modest size relegates it somewhat. This individual appeared in the garden MV trap this morning and, although a common moth, it is the first that I've recorded. I'm rather taken with it, especially those chocolate-brown tufts on the thorax!

Friday, 13 July 2018

A meandering walk to a book shop

Epsom town centre is but a five minute drive from home, or a twenty minute walk away. When I visit I normally choose 'shank's pony' over the car for several reasons - fitness, boosting my green credentials and the chance to do a bit of nature watching on the way. This morning I wanted to go to Waterstones to buy a bit of summer reading - I'm old fashioned that way, I like to actually pick up objects that I want to buy, to feel them and look at them rather than order them online - and would, by the way, normally choose an independent bookseller over a chain, but Epsom does not have one. But I digress...

There are a number of routes to take into Epsom town centre, and the one I took was extremely rambling, taking in a good section of Epsom Downs, then the historical old part of town which is full of Georgian and Victorian architecture, cottage gardens and mature trees. My trusty compact camera came along 'just in case'. I'm glad it did.

It was cloudy as I crossed the parched grassland of the downs, so the few Chalkhill Blues that were active were quite sluggish, enabling close approach.

I was delighted to come across a healthy clump of naturalised Red Bistort (Persicaria amplexicaulis) growing amongst the nettles, brambles and various tree saplings on a roadside verge as I entered the town. I do like these 'escapees'.

I arrived at the bookshop, buoyed by my natural history interlude. What did I purchase? 'The Magus' by John Fowles and 'Underworld' by Don Delilo. I'll let you know what I think.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Boys from the brown stuff

Today it was a pleasure to welcome Beddington Sewage Farm stalwarts Peter Alfrey and Kevin Guest onto the chalk for a botanical foray. A start at Epsom Downs provided Cypress Spurge and Round-headed Rampion, with butterflies also highlighting with a second-generation Small Blue and plenty of Chalkhill Blues. We then continued onto Mickleham and a scour of Juniper Bottom. The orchids were largely over, although there were a few Broad-leaved Helleborines in bud. Corn Mint (below) was a pleasant find, along with plenty of Silver-washed and Dark Green Fritillaries, plus one Purple Emperor which flew down the middle of the path and straight through us.

The slopes of Box Hill at the zig-zag were a great disappointment, with the parched ground not a great place for much flower or insect activity. We cut our losses and headed to the River Mole at Young Street, where a combination of cool shade and watery aspect cooled us down. Botanical highlights included Small Teasel (below), Arrowhead and Branched Bur-reed. A rather showy Silver-washed Fritillary (top) and a host of dragonflies and damselflies were a good end to a day that had been rather compromised by the hot dry spell.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

The Mocha

With the hot weather continuing so does the incidence of moths wandering away from their 'normal' haunts. After yesterday's two Kent Black Arches I was delighted to find this superb Mocha in the MV - another addition to the back garden list. This often happens, a run of consecutive nights when new species are recorded here in Banstead. It is as if there is a shift in the air above the garden, bringing in a conveyor belt of moths that originate from exotic places.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Kent Black Arches

In the last post I mentioned this as a species that was cropping up in nearby MV traps, and this morning, after 31 years of recording, not one but two individuals finally showed up in the back garden MV.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Recent moths

The garden MV continues to throw up a number of species that are of irregular occurrence here in Banstead, such as Large Emerald, Four-dotted Footman, Waved Black, Grey Arches and Minor Shoulder-knot. There are also a number of species popping up in traps in the wider area - which include Kent Black Arches and Red-necked Footman - that I would only be too pleased to welcome to Banstead. And while we are mentioning 'missing from the garden list' moths, any Oak Processionary moth that might be flying over also has an open invite.

Large Emerald - just about annual 
Old Lady - as big as your palm

The Shark - what a quiff!

Yellow-tail. You can see where it gets its name