Saturday, 11 May 2013

Greetings from Oxford (or to be precise, Wolvercote)

'Evening, fellow moth-ers: it feels a little awkward to be typing this with my moth trap firmly installed in my shed, but once again this doesn't feel like a night when running a trap is worthwhile. However, having been introduced only last year to moth trapping via a local wildlife group I help run, I soon became addicted: I 'borrowed' the group's Robinson moth trap and kept putting it out in my garden until well into November, getting a fairly modest garden list of 2012 of 140.

As I couldn't keep using my borrowed trap indefinitely, I've acquired my own Robinson, and was all set to run it as many nights as possible this year. Obviously the weather for the first four months of 2013 made that less successful than it might have been, but it's been possible to put out a trap most nights for the last month or so. Our garden's not a bad location for it: Wolvercote is a small village that's been absorbed into Oxford but retained its own identity, and our house isn't far from farmland, with a small wood and lake just beyond our garden fence, so quite a few habitats in striking distance (in fact I'm the person Adam Hartley mentions in his first post who lives within a mile of him in a more moth-friendly location - like Adam, I'd probably think of myself as a birder first and foremost). Our garden is medium-sized, and I tend to use benign neglect in running it, so it probably harbours a good number of food plants for caterpillars.

Although this year's been a little disappointing so far, I've become addicted to mothing, as has my nine-year-old son Xander, who seems to thoroughly enjoy helping sort through catches, and is pretty sharp on locating and identifying specimens (he's good at defining characteristics of different species: Buff Ermines and Muslin Moths are lazy, Pale Prominents well camouflaged, etc.). We've so far struggled to a year list of 35 (plus Brimstone, Holly Blue and Large White butterflies), with a maximum of 37 individuals in one night and 15 species on another, but the list has included some good species, including a number of new onesfor the garden and county year ticks, and a couple of nights ago, a rather early Coronet.

Oak Beauty, 17th April

Pebble Prominent, 4th May

Coronet, 9th May
So I'm hoping for a good run of mild weather, cloudy nights and some interesting moths over the coming months (my ambitions are to catch a Mother Shipton or a Merveille du Jour, but Xander has his heart set on a Death's Head Hawkmoth). I'm enjoying reading other people's experiences from around the country, and looking forward to seeing how much variation there is in terms of species caught in different areas.

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