Saturday, 18 July 2020

Moist ginger cake

I first realised that my eyesight was becoming in need of 'a little help' when assisting Barry Banson in checking his Greatstone moth trap. My moving of the egg-boxes back and forwards for my eyes to better focus had him imploring me to give in and buy a pair of reading glasses. That was in 2012 and I was 53 years old. The purchase swiftly followed.

For a number of years it was just the reading of small print and the observation of micro-moths that needed a pair of spectacles to be utilised, but over the past 12 months my close vision has been getting steadily worse. Unless the printed word is of a fairly robust size I will struggle with it. And as for micro-moths...

It has come to the point where I can see the micro-moth, but make very little detail out on it, bar a general ground colour or obvious mark. The modus operandi is to pot them without any attempt at identification and put them aside. Obviously there are familiar, or large micros that will not be potted, so on a good morning I will have 10-15 moths to check. Then the fun begins.  My very old Canon 400D is still in fine working order, and together with a 60mm macro lens, and a Raynox Super Macro Conversion Lens attached, even the smallest moth is now within working sight. What was just a vague pale bit of fluff now becomes a detailed moth! The moment when I look through the camera's viewfinder is one of suspense, because up until that point the wonders that are about to be revealed have been largely hidden from my retina. The indispensable second edition of Manley, the UK Moths website and a number of regional-based sites (Norfolk Moths in particular) are a great help in identification.

Each day a few photographs elude identification. These are placed in a computer desktop folder called 'Mystery' for later perusal. And when I find myself at a loose end, or in need of a bit of lepidopteran detective work, I open it up and try to piece together exactly what it is that is before me. I must admit to finding micros a challenge. For starters, their Latin names do not stick with me. There are many of them. And they vary in colour and markings even within species. It is a learning process, and one that I have started and stopped too many times to mention.

I've currently started again...

Below are two moths from this morning, both Pammene aurita, a beautiful Tortrix that reminds me of moist ginger cake. There is some variation between these individuals, but nothing compared to that shown by many species.


4 comments:

Wild Stutton said...

Heading in that direction too Steve. I've just got an Olympus TG-4 and am finding it easier to take pics and work off those.

martinf said...

Getting to 53 without reading glasses is good going. I was 42 when I got my first pair! I'm taking a lot more record shots of micros and working off those too. Oh, to be 21 again

Skev said...

I seriously need bifocals now, though to be fair when I empty my trap these days I'm only half awake so can't see some of the smaller micros regardless. My main problem is that if I don't wear any specs, my arms are not long enough to use the camera ....

Steve Gale said...

Seems as if we're in an ever increasing club of naturalists in need of optical assistance!