18 Dec 2011

WuFuV’s Xmas Party in the Big Shed in the Woods

Our second annual WuFuV Xmas Party took place once again at Cherry's Cafe at the Green Wood Centre with fine seasonal fayre provided by Polly and her very able team. So much to eat and so little time!

Last year saw 10 of us for our first criggy get-together and this year we filled the hall with 40 of us which included a posse from The Friends of The Earth all adding to make a truly atmospheric and enjoyable evening.

After stuffing ourselves silly and drinking ourselves into nearby oblivion (or was that only me?) we had our entertainers take to the stage.

Graham treated us to an excellent poem which took the rise somewhat out of many members of the Wrekin Forest Volunteers and then Margaret & Steve did a similar one and I think we all recognised who they were referring to.

I thought both poems were so good they were worthy of repeating so below is Margaret & Steve’s offering…

Nov-Dec 2011 002

The Motley Crew
By Margaret E Mitchell 

All hail to our great leader,
He tries his best, but well
To keep control of this motley crew
He hasn’t a hope in hell. 

There’s always somebody missing
When it’s time to be back on the bus.
Fossicking, bimbling about
It could be any of us. 

It’s most likely the one over yonder,
In his shorts, scrambling round on his knees
Shaking the bushes for insects
With his white sheet under the trees. 

Or is it the one up The Wrekin?
Bashing the bracken, fair cruel
With his trusty stick, he slashes about
Like d’Artagnan fighting a duel. 

It might be the one who hates ivy
With a passion that’s fiery red.
He cuts through the stems in a frenzy
“Take that!” he screams, “You’re dead!” 

There’s one who keeps us all smiling,
He merrily cuts with a swish.
He jokes and laughs while he’s working
Singing, “I know a song about this!” 

We’ve got our very own ‘hawk eyes’
No creature too small will she miss
You’ll see her off in the distance
With a ladybird sat on her wrist. 

We’ve also got a ‘Town Crier’
Who is usually so gentle and mild,
But when he cries “Oyez-oyez!”
He is suddenly scary and wild. 

There’s one who goes missing from time to time,
He likes to wander off piste.
Once he returned, he was waving a bone
Saying “A-Ah! Gnawed by the Ercall Beast.” 

The Bicker Twins are joined at the hip,
On descriptions they never agree.
“Look! I can see two spots on the wing,”
“Let me see, that’s not two, that’s three!” 

There are some who like insects and moths
Some love spiders the most
Or fungi or rocks or Yorkshire Fog
There’s a lot to keep us engrossed. 

Some plod quietly onwards
Others are ever so clever.
We’re intrepid and bold and brave
And turn out whatever the weather. 

No task is too hard; we’ll chop anything down
Our code is ‘Never say never’
Are we zany, eccentric and totally mad?
Yes, but hey,
We just have the best Fridays ever.

Thanks Margaret - brilliant poem! Says it all really doesn’t it?! Unfortunately, the pic I took of The Bicker Twins didn’t turn out but hey… you got the most space in this blog post!

Graham was going to send me his poem but he’s sooooo busy at the moment he’s missed the post but hopefully, we’ll get another chance to hear it at some point in the future.

Rob treated us to an expose of life in the North East with an accent so broad it left some of us bewildered (or was that the drink again?). But through the Sunderland mist came many hilarious gems and pearls of wonderful wisdom. Well done Rob!

Nov-Dec 2011 003

Penny and Nigel, dressed in traditional WuFuV garb, then gave us a very funny rendition of Henry and Liza’s ‘There’s a Hole In My Bucket’ ending with Nigel’s foot stuck firmly in the bucket!

Nov-Dec 2011 005 Nov-Dec 2011 008

I left my spot till last, hoping that everyone would forget, but alas they didn’t, so I did a little thing with paper balls and packs of cards called The Malone Mystery, a journey into mind manipulation which surprisingly, and despite several attempts to mug the results, actually worked!

Nov-Dec 2011 013

Anyway… it was an excellent night with so much to talk about, so much to eat & drink, with a great time had by one and all. Thanks to everyone who attended to make this a very special party.

7 Dec 2011

Nature Notes from Pete Lambert - December 2011

The kaleidoscope of autumn lasted for so long but finally the gold, yellows and reds mellowed into the muted tints of winter. The last few months have eased past with a seasonal drift of memory stirring moments. We exchanged a smile, a father and grandfather, I popping conkers into my jacket pockets, he filling a bulging carrier bag with the rotund glossy chestnut finds. I recalled that my own grandfather used to deliver  the same weighty bag of knuckle cracking globes. The largest I selected as potential champions, and then proceeded to eliminate  all chances of success by cork screwing the crudest hole for my bootlace!

 Little used curtains are brought into to service now, shutting out the cold dark and revealing snuggled queen wasps in their folds. One large specimen turned out to be a German wasp, one of about half a dozen social wasps found in Britain. Their delicate paper nests will disintegrate over the next few months, the numerous workers die and a solitary mated female will sit out the winter ready to initiate a new colony in the spring. Its wings were neatly folded longitudinally along it s body and as I studied the striping I noticed that between its large eyes were three tiny ocelli. Ocelli are very simple eyes and can be found on many members of the ant, wasp and bee order, the Hymenoptera. In fact I went back to the three red tailed bumble bees I have found in the yard, and though hard to see amongst the black hairs of the head there were the three ocelli. I had earlier tried to identify their  ‘pollen baskets’ mentioned in the guide book. Thinking that I would reveal  a wicker structure on the bees back, it took a while to realise that the two lines of in-curved hairs on the rear legs would do the job of carrying the important food source back home.

It was not only the wasp and bees making for shelter at this time of year, our much loved seven spot ladybird has been found in profusion. Snuggled into dry cavities, hollowed plant stems and potting shed frameworks, our ladybirds do like a bit of company for the long winter hibernation. The brightly coloured hemispherical beetles have short, retractable legs  and my favourite is the little Kidney spot ladybird with its black background and two crimson spots, found invariably but not exclusively in the forks of ash trees.

I have filled all the feeders, and joined the local network of feeding stations for the jumpy flocks of sparrow, goldfinch, chaffinch, coal, blue  and great tit, jackdaws, woodpeckers  and collared doves, eager to drop in at our back garden fuel stops. I still have not expanded my stock to include sunflower hearts and niger seed, but think I will, seems to work elsewhere in the village. We too are not immune to the visits of the sparrow hawk,  this time powering past the gap in the hedge. The song birds habit of forming large flocks is a deliberate attempt to counter this threat, extra safety gained by extra eyes, most of the times this works but sometimes a sacrifice is made.

We have a garden corner given over to lost pets and other creatures. The most recent internment being a song thrush, the size and dart patterning on its chest distinguishing it from its larger relative the Mistle thrush. The Mistle, alive and well turned up a few days later to feed on the holly berries and let us all know who owned the tree. Our winter thrush visitors are also in the neighbourhood, Redwings and Field fares have flown in from the continent, to now move around the rough grasslands of the area, noisy and distinctive. Lapwing are also about, a lovely wobbly winged group took to the air to flash their white ‘armpits’ at me as I flushed them from their wet sward just below the canal.

The weather remains mild and maybe the harsh freezes of the recent years might be avoided, all the same nature will do its best to sleep, eat and above all survive the stark challenge of a British winter. For us the logs are in, woollies pulled out from deeper recesses of the wardrobe and our boots are ready by the back door.

Happy wildlife spotting and seasons greetings,  Pete Lambert.

1 Oct 2011

October Nature Notes from Pete Lambert

Piles of premature shrivelled leaves have washed up in the corners of the yard as the dying lashes of Hurricane Katia made a mess of the golden turning of the season. A late summer tidy uncovered a common frog, the coils of chicken wire encrusted with weed had created a cool damp hideaway, the congregating  slugs unwittingly gathering for their communal contribution to our frogs pre-winter fattening. In the coming weeks our frog will search out a more permanent hibernation refuge and I will need to be careful to leave well alone any likely piles of stuff.

Weasels, stoats, pine martens, mink and otter are all members of the Mustelid family. On a recent foray along a small brook south of Telford we found an otter spraint or dropping on a bridge pier. The dark faeces twisted at one end contained fish scales and bones, and smelt strongly of the same. Otters are notoriously difficult to observe but other members of the family can be seen more often. The polecat or polecat ferret on the Rednal Straight had not made it across the road and though dark furred, insufficient remained of its characteristic creamy masked face for me to be finally certain about its identification. Ferrets are domesticated polecats, tending to be much lighter in colour and lacking the distinctive Zorro eye flash. Enough ferrets have escaped into the wild and interbred with the native polecat to create an endless spectrum of variations in between, the so called polecat ferrets.  Polecats are mainly nocturnal, though can be seen hunting prey such as voles, mice and frogs, and though usually solitary can gather in sociable family groups. Polecats have few natural predators though like mine they are often killed by cars.  At this time of the year their fur, known as fitch, grows denser and paler and the family units break up for the winter. The polecat has survived centuries of persecution and now out of it Welsh heartland this nifty predator is on its way back.

The Fox seen at Elbridge will also be in a seasonal mood. As autumn progresses the family groups formed to rear and protect the young cubs break up. Sub adults may stay with their parents, whilst young males disperse; in rural UK this can mean distances up to 25 kilometres, in urban areas as little as 3 kilometres. Dispersal will end around Christmas, though in disturbed territories final settling may not occur until the following summer. Life expectancy is low for these wandering youngsters. The tendency to disperse has been related to the amount of grooming the cub received whilst within the family and aggressive behaviour towards the cub as the group moves through the year. Foxes can not only be seen active during the day, the leftovers from their meals can also be found. Neatly consumed duck carcasses with the primary wing feathers still attached or with the ends sheared. The female rat found dead on its back in the garden had been killed by a bird of prey the small wound at the throat not a foxes M.O. at all.

Whilst the local wildlife manoeuvres in small ways to anticipate the coming winter our summer bird visitors are far, far away! R. has been tracking one of five cuckoo’s satellite tagged by the British Trust for Ornithology. The tags are solar powered, fixed to the cuckoos during a ringing operation in the Thetford Forest and since released back in June the birds are now in sub-Saharan Africa. Clement, Martin, Lyster, Kaspar and Chris are the first cuckoos to be tagged in this way and you too can follow their progress at the BTO website http://www.bto.org/science/migration/tracking-studies/cuckoo-tracking

Finally, trying hard not to miss the accelerated autumn we visited Nant y Frith woods near Coed Poeth on Sunday morning, and on the back of a gorgeous ramble I advise you all to take yourselves to your favourite woods too and kick up the dried pages of another summer.

Happy wildlife hunting, Pete.

If you would like to share your nature notes my email is petewoodman@thewoods12.fsnet.co.uk

13 Sep 2011

The Wrekin Wakes Sept 10th, 2011

The WuFuV's had a very busy weekend - no - I mean a VERY busy weekend!

But let's get the silly stuff out of the way first...

And not wishing to appear out of place by not donning a very colourful head garland... 

The weekend started on Friday for the WuFuV's as we made our way to Forest Glen and then on to the Ercall's Quarry 5 to clear the areas of scrub, bramble, litter and pooey dog stuff in preparation for the next day's Wrekin Wakes.

Following a full day of that the WuFuV MuGs (for the uninitiated that's Wrekin Forest Volunteers Moth Group) had a moth night planned at Granville Nature Reserve so for some of us it necessitated a quick change, gathering up of moth equipment, moth pavilion and a bite to eat in order to be on site an hour before nightfall - but we all made it and the fact that none of the 27 keys given to me opened the main gate to the reserve didn't really matter at all!

We had a contingency plan - we headed for the furnaces where I've always wanted to run a moth-trapping. Incredibly one of the said 27 keys did in fact open the gate to that part of the reserve so it all fell into place really and in no time at all we were ready and waiting for the arrival of those little fluttery things of the night.

Enter Tony first though, flapping his arms to demonstrate to newcomer Becky how moths prepare for flight!

Or was that when we were getting ready to do the okey cokey? I forget. Margaret and Steve certainly seem to be up for it - oh... by the way you two; we made it for the Amen Corner/Searchers gig Saturday evening too - didn't spot you though!

Anyway the moth night passed all so quickly as we had to leave at midnight to be fairly fresh for the following morning and what in future years, I'm sure, will become a famous gathering of cheerful souls...

The Wrekin Wakes

There was a definite happy and somewhat nostalgically 'hippy' feel to the day

There was so much happening with 4 live acts on stage throughout the day including the wonderful harmonies of Luke + Cath, the superb voice and guitar playing of Claire Shaw, the great duo that are The Medicine Boys, The Vagabondi Puppets - great fun for all the little people and finishing with the very wonderful, the very tuneful and talented Day Level.

   Luke + Cath

  Claire Shaw

   Day Level

And there was so much else going on too!

Did someone just hit the ball over the boundary?

No! That was the WuFuV's bug hunt, which started with just a handful of people and suddenly exploded! In the stampede to find what was in the undergrowth this little monster almost got trodden to pulp...


Ooops sorry - wrong pic - here's the little monster:-

This is an Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillar which looks quite menacing with its big bold eye markings, but it is, of course, completely harmless. This little chappy was getting ready to pupate and will then emerge as the beautiful olive green and pink adult moth next spring/summer.

We also had our own fire-maker who demonstrated how to light a fire with a string bow which was amazing to watch. I actually resisted the urge to produce a box of matches.

We then had a tug-o-war but we had to make our own rope first! From grass!

We started with just two rows of grass taken from the roadside and then each side was twisted in opposite directions. Matt takes some time to think about this...

The two strands were then twisted together and we formed two teams and pulled!

Incredibly the twisted grass strands took all the strain of 8 people either side - some quite hefty blokes too. Great fun although the team I found myself on lost 2-1. Oh well - perhaps the WuFuV's should get a team up for next year and get some practice in. First though we have to work on the photo shoot for the forth-coming semi-nude (we're not doing the full monty) WuFuV Calendar.

Belly dancers! Let's not forget the belly dancers!


Bryony complete with little pink skirt takes to it like a fish out of water. Not sure about Pete though! Although to be fair he wasn't given a little pink skirt.

So an excellent day at The Ercall eventually drew to a close with the only rain descending right at the end when Day Well sang two songs about rain - well we definitely need the wet stuff! So any farmers out there who are worried about the lack of rain just employ the services of Day Well, stand them in the middle of your crop and they will summon up a heavy downpour just for your fields, thereby keeping your neighboring and competing farmers very worried!

I think everyone who attended would agree it was just a fab day and thanks must go to Pete Lambert and the rest of the crew for organising this superb event and massive thanks also to the organisations who funded it because without them it just wouldn't have happened. So BIG THANKS to Shropshire Hills, Defra, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, the Rural Development Programme and Advantage West Midlands. 

Looking forward to next year's Wrekin Wakes already! If you were there aren't you glad you were at the very first one? In 10 years time as the crowds build to 150,000 strong and Pete worries about taking the right key to open the gate we'll be able to say we were there. We were there at the start of it all. This could be the next - and better - Shropshire's own 'V' Festival.

Catch you all soon

Paul Watts

5 Sep 2011

September Nature Notes from Pete Lambert

Nature Notes – September 2011

At long last the final camping gizmo was put back into the camping cupboard, and the warm mist of remembering took me back down the Anglesey lanes. Wall brown, Meadow brown, Gatekeeper and Red Admiral butterflies had risen as I pedalled past. Small delicate micro-moths took short hesitant flights when disturbed and a Small Copper butterfly had a narrow squeak with my rolling front tyre. This very pretty small creature enjoys flowery places though its larval food-plants are the undistinguished docks and sorrels. The Small Copper has dark chocolate hind under-wings fringed with a bright orange ripple and the forewings are a kind of negative with a striking orange centre marked with black spots and edged with brown. When the adult is in the early stages of its flying life it is a very tidy butterfly which cannot be said for location that day.

The untidy hedges of Ynys Mon do provide plenty of colour, the aged wrinkly leaves of Woods age are paired below spikes of tiny yellow flowers, bold purple ‘Hardheads’ of the Knapweed, Red Campion still in flower, flaming nodding spikes of Montbretia [a man made hybrid though to my delight this was everywhere], button blooms of rich yellow Tansy and green rosettes of what at a glance looked like Rusty back fern added depth to the hedge plant parade. The hedge shrubs of hawthorn or blackthorn invariably grew on top of banks or loose dry walls inter-filled with soil. There were none of the unbearably neat, flailed and tamed hedges here, but an older, wilder and unruly network of field divisions.

I was on my way to Cemlyn Bay to visit the Tern colony, apparently the third largest Sandwich tern colony in the UK. Terns like to roost and breed on shingle beaches and here at Cemlyn an artificial shingle ridge has been maintained by the North Wales Wildlife Trust and the National Trust. I had not seen a tern colony before and heard it first before seeing the busy thin winged birds feeding. Arctic Terns have reddish beaks and a neat grey, black and white plumage. Sandwich Terns are our biggest resident tern, my best views were of individuals returning from the open sea with a fish clasped firmly in their black and yellow tipped beak, a rakish crest clear to see, flicking cavalier like from their aerodynamic heads. Around the lagoon Oystercatchers hung around, their simple black white body pattern and bright red-orange beak reminding me of the bad penguin in The Wrong Trousers. A solitary Dabchick or Little Grebe pottered around another pool close by, with the ubiquitous Coots in the far distance.

The coast is a harsh place for plants to survive, adapting as they must to inundation by salt water, coated in briny spray or blown flat by unrelenting winds. On the banks and salt marsh flats I encountered the sea hardened cousins of our milder local plants. Sea mayweed, tall bobbly spikes of Sea Arrowgrass, the maritime Rush and the rubbery Spear leaved orache were easily found. Each subtly evolved to cope with the stress imposed by saline exposure. One of our commonest groups of native plants are the plantains, tolerant of a wide variety of soil types and trampling, they are found everywhere. Out of the six UK plantain species I found four together, Greater, Ribwort, Sea and Bucksthorn plantain. The last two very much associated with coastal locations and surprisingly main roads and motorways, the connection being salt in this case winter cast rock salt. Each plantain has a rotund spike of very tiny flowers best appreciated with a hand lens, that day they were shyly at their best.

Much of bays history as a wildlife site is tied to the story of a wealthy eccentric bird enthusiast, Captain Vivian Hewitt who first came to Cemlyn Bay in the 1930’s. He constructed a dam and weir, replacing tidal salt-marsh with a large and permanent lagoon which he intended as a refuge for wildfowl. He also had a scheme to nurture an area of woodland within the grounds of Bryn Aber, his home, to attract smaller birds. To this end he began construction of an imposing double wall, which was intended both as a wind-brake for the trees, and a means for observing the birds – the gap between the two walls had viewing holes. After Captain Hewitt’s death the house was left to his housekeeper’s family, but the walls themselves remain, and lend the site its mysterious, even foreboding presence. I enjoyed and treasured my day at Cemlyn and only yesterday did I clear away the last dried stem of rush, plucked and tucked in a forgotten pocket till now.

Happy wildlife spotting, Pete.  

If you would like to share your wildlife encounters please feel welcome to email me at petewoodman@thewoods12.fsnet.co.uk

2 Aug 2011

Grimpo Nature Notes from Pete Lambert

Nature Notes August 2011

I thought it was but doubted my gut reaction. The Village Shop hanging basket lush with bright flowers had a visitor, as I approached it dropped and whirled away. A few days later I received an email confirming the sighting of a Hummingbird Hawk moth in the area. This attractive moth will quite literally hover in front of flowers to feed, its wings beating so fast they make an audible hum.

I had first encountered this migrating marvel in Kent, then as now it had been attracted to an over flowing hanging basket. I was very excited by this exotic creature, I did at first think it was a humming bird my only reference material being the BBC! This very swift flying moth is actually often reported as a hummingbird. The orange brown hind-wing, together with the black and white on the abdomen sides, which are usually evident in flight, can help with identification. It is most frequently seen in the southern half of Britain and Ireland, particularly coastal counties, though the distribution maps being produced as the result of Butterfly Conservation’s survey work has revealed sightings from as far north as the eastern Scottish coast.

The full range of the Hummingbird Hawk moth extends throughout Europe, North Africa, to India, Korea and Japan. The moth is most frequently observed hovering and flitting from flower to flower, such as those of buddleia and Red Valerian, although sometimes seen flying around the eaves of houses, and examining cracks and holes in walls, possibly looking for a resting spot. The caterpillar likes to feed on Lady’s Bedstraw, Hedge Bedstraw and Wild Madder. Butterfly Conservation have been monitoring the Hummingbird Hawk moth, you can add your own sightings by going to http://www.butterfly-conservation.org/sightings/1096/humming_bird_hawk_moth.html . There are many ways to record your sightings try out the website www.naturalshropshire.org.uk for wildlife records in our area.

The frantic cacophony of spring has hushed now, strong sunshine along the lanes draws out the Ringlet butterflies feeding hungrily on the bramble flowers, occasionally testing out a Dog or field rose bloom. A Small Tortoiseshell butterfly having laid its eggs on the nettles at the edge of the garden now basks on the lawn. Meadow Browns and Gatekeeper butterflies enjoying the long grasses of neglected corners of our local field network. In the evening micro moths and their larger friends visit such as the Bee moth Aphomia sociella.  Bee moths are sexually dimorphic, which means that the males are more brightly coloured and patterned than the females. Like some other members of the Galleriinae tribe, the larvae feed on the comb inside bee and wasp nests. We have a set of hives in the copse close by which is worrying though the more serious pest of beehives seems to be the Wax-moths. One of a number of natural causes of concern for our endangered bee friends, though fortunately we cannot include bears in this country, well at least so far!

Despite the bits and pieces hanging in the window she had not seen it and the collision was fatal. The female blackbird possibly avoiding another danger had not been able to see the glass and now we were solemnly burying her in the corner of the garden reserved for wild or domestic animal friends at the end of their free wheeling days. Earlier that week though we had been spooked on a late evening cycle by a barn owl, very much alive, gliding across the road in front of us and very skilfully negotiating a rhododendron thicket, perching briefly before silently moving on.

Our cycling preparations were for a longer trek which took us alongside two other perching specialists, firstly a Stonechat male on the moors above Llangynog, characteristically atop a hawthorn shrub calling out to its mate. Secondly at Maesbury a Reed bunting cleverly swaying atop a flag iris leaf contemptuous of the breeze pushing him to and fro. Many birds give their names away by their behaviour; careful observation can eliminate an insecure identification in favour of the correct one. So it was that I had been given a lift home and could without endangering my usual passengers look very closely at the bird as she flew in front of us, very low swooping flight, powerful and finally a tight dive up and down the back of the hedge. The dark brown plumage and barred tail combined with this distinctive flight gave us the lovely bird of prey the Merlin. The Pied wagtail and singing Yellowhammer both enjoy characteristic calls and habits making them great birds to watch and enjoy, and finally our first Goldfinch to the table, must be the new mix in the feeders, must top them up and put on the kettle!

Happy wildlife spotting, Pete.

If you would like to share your wildlife sightings please email on petewoodman@thewoods12.fsnet.co.uk , thanks

27 Jul 2011

Devil’s Dingle Moth Night

Glow worm Devil's Dingle Moth Night 080711 009

What a great night July 8th, 2011 turned out to be!

Our second trip to Devil’s Dingle was a fine, mainly dry night with just a light breeze, the temperature dropping down to just 13.5 deg C and a light shower at around 3am - not that we really noticed that, tucked up as we were in our sleeping bags then, but come dawn we were emptying the traps and a busy time it was for the three of us who remained all night.

And if you’re wondering what the opening pic is all about - it’s not actually an eerie-looking UFO about to descend on the unsuspecting clan of moth-ers with the threat of possible abduction and integration into an alien society - oh… it’s amazing what imaginative thoughts grab you in dark and remote places very late at night!    No… it was in fact a glow worm - one of 2 we found not far from one of the traps. A search in the vicinity, however,  gave no further records but a useful addition to this wonderful Wildlife Site.

But moths we had galore. Having finally identified her last remaining specimens Liz has added 4 more species to the already impressive count giving no less than 586 individuals across 85 species.

One of Liz’s additions was this lovely micro with the equally lovely name of Aethes cnicana. We didn’t manage a pic on the night so this one comes courtesy of the UK Moths website

Aethes cnicana

We also saw Elephant Hawkmoth

Large Elephant  Hawkmoths 2 July 4 - 2009 097

Poplar Hawkmoth, Nutmeg

Poplar Hawk moth Devil's Dingle Moth Night 080711 028 Nutmeg DD 080711 004

This rather striking Beautiful Golden Y also popped into one of my traps

Beautiful Golden Y Devil's Dingle Moth Night 080711 017

And a micro that I haven’t seen before (in fact this was one of 9 moths new to me from the night). This is Nemapogon cloacella, otherwise known as the Cork Moth. The larva feed on various types of bracket fungus

216 Nemapogon cloacella, the Cork Moth Devil's Dingle 080711

Another first for me was the Brown-line Bright Eye not to be confused with the more common Bright-line Brown-eye, of course!

Brown-line Bright-eye Devil's Dingle Moth Night 080711 016

So an excellent night once again at Devil’s Dingle and my thanks go to Mary Thornton, Community Liaison Officer of the Ironbridge Power Station who kindly arranged access for the night staying with us to help set up and record in the morning.

Devil's Dingle Moth Night 080711 001

Thanks also to Tony and Andy for their records and help with ID’s, not forgetting Keith’s sheet and torch which proved to be a very worthwhile addition with a nice white sheet spread out over his cars’ bonnet proving to be an excellent way to get up close and personal to the moths of the night.

Fellow WuFuV’s Stephen and Margaret also came along and were a great help with erecting the moth pavilion, traps and generally assisting with ID’s etcetera.

Last, but by no means least, for Liz’s contribution using Les’s old trap which for some reason seems to be bringing in far better results than Les ever had! Liz puts this down to the blue handles she’s attached. As that seems to be the only modification I can only assume that’s the reason for her success!

Devil's Dingle Moth Night 080711 003

Catch up with you all soon

Paul Watts

29 Jun 2011

Apley Castle Moth Night June 24th, 2011

Report from Paul Watts

What a wet night last Friday was!

I think the rain started around 6pm and looked as if it was here for the night but I picked Liz and her moth-trap up at 7pm as arranged and had a brief conversation with Sean at Apley Woods on the way and I have to admit I was all set for cancelling the event. Although moths do still fly on a wet night the numbers are usually much lower and I just felt it might be prudent to postpone to another date.

However, when we arrived I discovered that Tony & Andy were already there with a trap and looking for a suitable tree canopy to set up. I had a wander around myself looking to see if it was feasible. It was still raining when I bumped into 2 people and asked if they were here for the moth night. They said yes! I later found out they were father and son Mike and Charlie here for their first moth night. A few minutes later I met a small group of umbrellas and discovered another happy band of virgin moth-ers sheltering under them.

And still it rained.

Graham arrived with his Heath Trap and more people emerged from the trees as I wandered around so I eventually decided on setting up in what I call the arena area of Apley Woods where once the grand Georgian Manor House stood. This seemed to be an ideal place to set up the traps under the trees that skirt the arena, also giving us space to set up 2 gazebo’s for shelter.

Apley Castle Moth Night 240611 021

So that’s what we did. We set up a total of 5 traps running off 2 generators.

And the rain continued.

Within an hour we were ready to go and a brief under-the-canvas intro talk by yours truly led to us switching on the generators at around 9:15pm. Olly was on hand to bring a little extra heat to the evening with a much appreciated camp-fire just outside the gazebo’s.

Apley Castle Moth Night 240611 014

Apley Castle Moth Night 240611 009

It wasn’t long before the first moth appeared - an unexpected Light Emerald that popped into Tony’s trap. This later proved to be the 2nd most trapped moth of the night.

Apley Castle Moth Night 240611 029 

And still it rained!

On a night where I thought perhaps just 3 or 4 of us might have braved the atrocious weather I was very pleased to see around 20 souls congregating in the gazebos hoping for the rain to stop. So, all things considered an excellent turn-out. No doubt, had it not been for the rain, the numbers would have easily doubled.

But… d’you know what? It was an excellent night. We sat in the dry (apart from anyone who happened to position themselves under the 9” gap between the gazebos!) telling stories and chatting, with Tony, Liz, Graham and Keith bringing in the odd moth either trapped or found venturing out to see what the lights were all about. And still it rained.

And who was the strange hooded dude who arrived complete with a very suspect light sabre? Or was it just a very bright shining lollipop?

Apley Castle Moth Night 240611 003

Was it Graham I wonder?

Apley Castle Moth Night 240611 011

What made the night even better though was the food and drink supplied by The Friends of Apley Castle. Thanks guys for looking after us all so well.

The whole event was funded by Telford & Wrekin Council’s ‘£££’s 4 Projects’. So thanks go to all, not forgetting Sean Thomas, of course, for co-ordinating everything so well.

The Wrekin Forest Moth Night at Apley Castle is always one of the highlights of the moth calendar for us and they get better every time. You see so much change here with the careful and dedicated management of the woods, pools and meadow that it can only be a matter of time before it is recognised as a true wildlife haven and receives the designation it deserves. For all who work and volunteer at Apley Woods the increase in flora and fauna shows you’re doing something right! More power to your elbows, legs and backs!

And still it rained.

By midnight most people had drifted back home and then at around 12:15am the rain finally ceased (although it returned through the night)! Shortly after the witching hour the moths started to arrive in slightly higher numbers.

A lovely Peppered Moth dropped by

Peppered Moth Garden Moths 010610 002

along with one of my favourite micro-moths - Agapeta zoegana

Agapeta zoegana Apley Castle Moth Night 240611 extras 002

A couple of Snouts also made an appearance

The Snout

along with a Clouded Silver and a Brimstone Moth

Clouded Silver Garden Moths 230610 006       Brimstone

One of the traps at around midnight

Apley Castle Moth Night 240611 018

Around 1am Liz and I retired to our tents whilst Olly tended to the dying embers of the fire. As is always the case I find it very easy to sleep under canvas drifting off within a few minutes and waking around 6am to find Liz sitting by the stoked-up and rejuvenated fire. “What are you doing?” I asked. She replied “My tent was leaking so I’ve spent most of the night out here in front of the fire!”  I think you’d better invest in that new tent Liz - your beach tent is just not up to protecting you from anything other than the sun and we didn’t see a lot of that!

We opened up the four remaining traps and were surprised to find more than what we expected with a total, including Tony’s trap which ran till around midnight, of 114 individuals across 28 species. Numbers were obviously down from previous years at Apley (800 and 400 approx) but it was more than we hoped for so a good result and an excellent night spent in convivial company and topped off with an excellent breakfast of bacon, sausage and egg butties at Rosemary and David’s. All other trappers were off to Prees Heath early in the morning to watch the Silver-studded Blues emerging so it was just Olly and me who partook of this superb feast. Thanks again you two! You’re the best!

The Top 10 moths of the night were:

Heart and Dart        35   
Light Emerald        14   
Uncertain        14   
Large Yellow Underwing    9   
Garden Grass-veneer    6
Eudonia truncicolella    6
Scoparia ambigualis    5
Peppered Moth        3   
Double Square-spot    2   
Snout            2

If you’d like a copy of the full list of moths you can download it below and if you’d like to see pics and short info of the moths you can use the search field using either the Code Number or name at UK Moths

Click here for spreadsheet:-

Excel File of Moths trapped

Before I take my leave just a quick mention of Apley Woods’ new website which is looking superb at the moment and I know Sean and his team have loads of ideas to implement which can only make it glow even more. Take a look around - there’s lots to get involved with here!

Apley Woods Website
Paul Watts

28 Jun 2011

Prees Heath and Whixall Moss

Report by Keith Fowler

Liz, Graham and I travelled to Prees Heath to view Silver-studded-blue emergence, and to Whixall Moss to view  Large heath, Argent and Sable and White-faced darter. We only saw one of these targets but we had an enjoyable day!!

It was cool, damp and breezy as I collected Graham from home and Liz from Apley Park where she had spent a wet night moth trapping. At 8am we arrived at the Butterfly Conservation site, Prees Heath, where we met Stephen Lewis, the warden and about six others who had turned out for the guided walk.

Although the rain held off for most of the time we were there it remained cool and breezy which was bad news for emergent Silver-studded blues but good news for viewing the emerged blues as they were still roosting which made them very easy to view.

image image

Stephen pointed out several places where the moths were roosting. Eventually we got our eyes in and were able to locate them for ourselves.

After 90 minutes or so of searching for emergent butterflies we abandoned our search. So our first failure! It was not a wasted journey. We had the chance to get close to around 50 Silver-studded blues; we found other larvae – Mullein and Burnet; and saw very recently emerged Chaffinch chicks.

Failure number two occurred before we left Prees Heath when Stephen let Graham know that Argent and Sable were no longer flying at Whixall Moss. Also it had started to rain so we visited the local Transport café to decide our next move.

Refreshed by tea, coffee and excellent bacon sandwiches we travelled on to Whixall Moss, excellently navigated by Graham (apart from a rather dodgy short-cut).

There is quite a long walk to get from the car park to the moss along a well vegetated lane. At the start of the lane we were greeted by a couple of Swallows who posed for photographs. Here is one of them:


The lane yielded lots of butterflies, mainly Ringlets, and a few moths. I heard a Grasshopper warbler. As we watched the Ringlets one disappeared as it was grabbed in mid-air by a speeding swallow. We were in for a good session … or so we thought. When we got to the area of the moss it was blowing a gale. A passing bird-watcher told us that it was too windy for Hobbies and there was not much about. Such a gloomy forecast never deters the folk of WFV.

He was right, there was not much about, but, there was not ”nothing”. There was one blue damselfly but no dragonflies – so failure number three.

As we walked along Liz pounced and caught a Large heath – SUCCESS. Eventually we saw about half a dozen of these butterflies.


As we made our way back Liz pounced again and captured this moth


A Purple-bordered gold, a Nationally Scarce B moth (id confirmed by Tony Jacques).

After a late lunch by the canal we returned home … and the sun came out.