Friday, 26 July 2013

The Weeting Warden’s Diary: July

Simon Thompson: Summer Warden Weeting Heath NNR

Inside the Weeting Heath moth trap, photo by Simon Thompson
I’ve been getting quite excited about moths this month. I’d been to a trapping session or two before but had never run a trap of my own. 10 traps in and I’m well and truly hooked. Being a beginner is great, with in excess of 800 species of macro-moth, generally speaking the big ones, and an additional 1,600 or so micro-moths there’s almost always something new in the trap. The learning curve is steep but it’s amazing how quickly you begin to pick things up and become familiar with the different families of moths and the more regular species.

Tawny Wave, Scopula rubiginata, photo by 
2011 Weeting Summer Warden, Amy Green
The list is building steadily each week and we’re now up to 150 macro-moth species for the year. The full Weeting Heath species list has been compiled by various trappers over the last few years including previous Summer Wardens, Amy Green and Ellie Rickman and it is now at 290 macro- and 80 micro-moth species. 

The list includes a few rarities; Tawny Wave - a Red Data Book species trapped both this year and in 2011; False Mocha – a Biodiversity Action Plan priority species recorded in 2010; and Lunar Yellow Underwing – a nationally scarce species which is in decline, recorded regularly this year and also in 2008 and 2011. 

Small Elephant Hawkmoth, Deilephila 
porcellus, photo by Simon Thompson
It is obviously a real buzz to be recording rarities however some of the more common moths are some of the most popular with visitors here at Weeting, particularly the large, flamboyant hawkmoths. We have Privet-, Pine- Eyed-, Poplar-, Elephant- and Small Elephant- hawkmoths visiting the trap regularly. One trap produced 34 of the bright fuchsia and mustard coloured Small Elephant Hawkmoths which really was a sight to see!

Rosy Footman, Miltochrista miniata,  
photo by Simon Thompson
If you and your family are interested in seeing how a trap works then we are holding an event in August called Fantastic Nightfall Fliers. We’ll be having a look at the moth trap and some of the moths that it catches, heading out for a short walk in the forest, hopefully hearing stone curlews call and finding some creatures that hunt moths in the night, before heading back to the visitor centre for a hot chocolate. The event will be held here at Weeting Heath on Saturday 24 August from 8 – 10pm. Tickets cost £2 per person or £6 for a family ticket (2 adults and 2 children). If you just can’t wait that long then feel free to contact me at the NWT Weeting Heath Visitor Centre (Tel. 01842 827615) and I’ll be happy to let you know when I’m planning the next trapping session.

Eyed Hawkmoth, Smerinthus ocellata, photo by Simon Thompson

Lobster Moth, Stauropus fagi, photo by Simon Thompson
For more great moth pictures from the Weeting Moth Trap, have a look in our Facebook album.

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