31 Aug 2009

Where is it? AGAIN...

I knew the last 'Where is it?' photo would fox you all. There have been a few suggestions mostly featuring Lilleshall which it isn't! But here's another clue that might just lead you to it and the fabulous treasure that awaits the winner!

19-10 CH00BA
Which now makes it so much simpler of course! Comments, clever estimates, wild guesses are all welcome - just pop them in 'Comments' below and I'll let you know if you're getting close!

20 Aug 2009

Apley Castle Moth Night

I'm sure everyone, without exception, who went along to the moth night at Apley Castle on Tuesday, August 18 would say it was a huge success! Not just for the fabulous moths we encountered but for the almost palpable enthusiasm that poured out from everyone. Just look at the expression on the little girl's face as she gets up close and personal to a moth in the pot!

Boring? Moths? Get outta here!
It really does go to show that moths are not all brown, furry, uninteresting and a menace when they fly through an open bathroom window when the light's been left on! Many are really quite pretty with beautiful colouring and markings, like the charming Sallow that poppped in to say hello...

And the Gold Spot which I initially identified incorrectly but thanks to Tony Jacques, the County Moth Recorder for Shropshire, who soon spotted my mistake and put things right! I guess it's easily done when caught up with the excitement and shared enthusiasm!

Liz then potted up, from Les's moth trap what was, for many, the star of the show - the huge almost bat-size Poplar Hawkmoth...

First recording
This was the first time an organised moth-trapping event had taken place at Apley Castle with its widely diverse habitats of meadow, woodland and pools, which is why we were all very keen to run the traps here as we felt that species would be pulled in from all 3 habitats. We were right!

The elements were kind to us
The weather throughout the night was almost perfect; no rain, no wind with around 60% cloud cover and in terms of numbers of moths I certainly had a personal best for my trap with well over 200 moths across 30 different species not including the tiny micros of which there were scores, maybe hundreds!

Species List
The final count across the 4 traps is being done as we speak with the results then to be collated together. I will then send everyone who left an email address on the night a file of the full species count. If you didn't leave your address, weren't able to attend or simply otherwise just interested please email me and I'll send you a copy as soon as it becomes available paulewatts@googlemail.com

Around 30 people turned up on the night with others who just dropped in as they were walking the dogs or just out for an evening stroll.

Five of us - Tony Jacques and 4 members of The Wrekin Forest Volunteers stayed through the night til dawn in order to get a full night's records as different species fly at different times of the night from dusk to dawn.

Most moths were identified and recorded on site, others were photographed and a handful were taken back home for later identification. All were then released unharmed to go about their business which essentially is to find mates, lay eggs and then die. No different to any other life form really including Homo sapiens!

And talking of dawn this was the tranquil scene looking over Apley Pool in the very early hours of the next morning...

There are more photo's of the night on our forum, (Album: Apley Castle Moth Night) with more to follow, so please pop along and take a look. If it's your first visit there, you'll need to register, but it's free, easy, quick and completely painless!

Also, if you would like to find out what the Wrekin Forest Volunteers do to help look after our wildlife in the area and to follow our many exploits just pop in your email address at the top right of the blog in order to receive an email alert every time we post a new article here. If interested in joining The Wrekin Forest Volunteers or would like to become more involved with moths please email me for more information paulewatts@googlemail.com


It just remains for me to say a huge thanks to everyone who came along - it was great to see you all there. I also and especially want to thank Jenny Joy from Butterfly Conservation for the loan of the generator, Tony Jacques - County Moth Recorder for his help, assistance and huge experience of moths and trapping and a very special thank you extends to Sean Thomas and his many helpers for organising the event, gaining the necessary permission, creating, printing and placing the posters in the area and for the wonderful and much appreciated magnificent breakfast that was laid on for us. Thanks again Sean and...

We will be back!
Please feel free to leave a comment >>>>>>>

12 Aug 2009

Moth Night at TTP

Pic by Les Hughes
Hi everyone,

As we are in a 'Summer Recess' - gosh - I hope that doesn't sound too American!? How about 'Summer Break'?, I thought I'd pop in a quick post about one of my passions:- Moths!

Most people think of moths as those horrid brown things that flutter around the bathroom light when the window's been left open. And it is entirely true! Many Heterocera are indeed brown and seemingly uninteresting, but even the mundane brownies have lives of intrigue and interest. There are, of course, many beautifully marked and coloured moths too. I caught this little beauty, for example, in last week's trapping for the Garden Moth Scheme.

Yellow-barred Brindle

Not a common moth in these parts apparently so I was particularly pleased to make her acquaintance in my trap.

Which brings me to our recent moth night in Telford Town Park. We arrived at Maxell Gardens on the evening of July 28 after a day of often heavy rain which didn't seem to want to give up, so we half-hatched a trip to the pub instead! However, the rain eased and eventually ceased, the night then proving to be mainly dry allowing our little furry friends to come out to play. And much cheaper than going to the pub!

We had 2 traps (mine and Les's) and a generator obtained by Graham and kindly loaned from Jenny Joy of Butterfly Conservation which became known as Jennny's Genny! Thanks again Jenny.

We were only allowed 8 people and as it happened, due mainly to the bad weather I guess, there were just 5 of us - all Wrekin Forest Volunteers: Keith, Graham, Nigel, Les and myself.

Wrong Photo!
Here's what I meant to upload;-

Les? Where are you?

Ahah... there you are!

We indulged in the normal wit and silly banter that seems to abound when thrust together and we all had an enjoyable 4 hours, packing up and leaving the site and moths to their own devices at midnight as planned.

I just couldn't resist including this pic of Graham taken by Les and titled by Les as... wait for it... The Happy Lepidopterist. Nirvana. Pure nirvana!

Of course, we did manage to record some lovely moths too and the records have been forwarded to SWT and to the county moth recorder. The file has also been uploaded to the WFV forum too http://groups.yahoo.com/group/wfv

More pics of the night and the moths on the WuFuV forum

Here's a small selection:-
Peppered Moth (Courtesy of Les)


Small Phoenix

The Top Three in terms of numbers were:-

1: Large Yellow Underwing
2. Dun-bar
3. Brimstone

Apley Castle
If you'd like to come along to the next moth-night it's next Tuesday, August 18 - 8pm at Apley Castle. Park at the old nursery and walk down towards Apley Pool - we'll be in or near the newly-acquired meadow. Stay as long as you wish - moths have been booked to do a mass fly-in at around 9:30pm - weather permitting! If it's raining by the way, we'll still be there, sitting in our waterproofs (as will be the moths) waiting for it to clear.

A couple of weeks ago Les suggested Stiperstones as a possible site for a future moth night so I've set it up! All bar the date which I will soon be able to notify everyone of. I've been in dialogue with the Reserves Manager at the Trust - Carl Pickup - and Pete who has kindly offered the use of the Trust's generator and we're now already to go. As this is not a public event the exact location and date will be given only to those who express an interest. And to do that simply email me at paulewatts@googlemail.com. NB: If you've already received an email from me posted today (Wed, Aug 12) re dates, there's no need to email me separately as you'll be confirming interest by supplying your available dates.

Micro Moths
There are around 2500 species of moth found in the UK. Some 1600 of these are micro moths which is almost a subject of its own, although as moth recorders we are, of course, encouraged to ID and record as many as possible, but I wonder if there's anyone out there prepared to make this a specialised subject when we run moth nights etcetera? There's a lot of work being done on the Internet with regards to ID but not much written in book form although this guide features all 208 species of UK Pyralids which are likely to be the most common found:-

British Pyralid Moths
By Barry Goater. 1998.
Harley Books. Hardback. 175pp.

Anyone interested? Please email me asap paulewatts@googlemail.com

Plant pics
At the risk of becoming a blog specialising in insects would someone also like to take up the mantle and upload pics to the forum of plants - we're seriously lacking in these and if they're not on the forum I can't use them in the blog. It would also help some of us in the identification of those common and not so common plants of Shropshire. I find the ID of plants and wildflowers a little daunting to say the least so this would be of help to me certainly. Just upload a few pics with ID's so we can all see them.

Where Is It
This issue's 'where is it' pic is going to fox (a clue maybe, or perhaps a red herring?) everyone I think. Answers, educated guesses and wild whims all accepted by popping them in comments below. Make as many attempts as you wish. There will, of course, be one of my fabulous and much sought-after prizes for the winner but I think this one may last a few weeks! Can't see 'Comments'? Click here to go to the main blog and scroll to the bottom of this post www.wrekinforestvolunteers.com

See you all soon and hopefully, many of you on Tuesday at Apley Castle.