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The weblog below is for naturalists to use to report interesting sightings, ask questions, report on field meetings and generally post pictures and any information or questions generally relevant in some way to the wildlife and geology of Essex. You will need to register and be logged-on to post to the forum, and you need to upload pictures first, for use in posts. Find out more

Mon 23rd May 2011 18:15 by Ben Sale
Field Trip - Canvey Island - Saturday night
Canvey Island - 21/05/11

Made our first trip of the year to Canvey Wick at Canvey Island last night. Equipped with 2 traps, 1 with a 160w Mercury Blanded Bulb + 22w Actinic Robinson style trap, the other with a 150w Halogen bulb and dual 40w Actinic Skinner trap. We opted to leave the 125w Robinsion's at home as we would no be able to carry them with the heavy chokes that you need to run them. Walking along the path towards our trapping spot, there was lots of evidence of moth activity, so we did a quick recce and positioned our traps on the large circular tarmac areas which were left when the massive Oil drums where removed some years back now. Moth activity at the lights was slow, but did pick up as full darkness approached, we were very concerned at how clear it was as the daytime temperature had reached 21c, at nearly 10pm it had fallen to 14c, throughout the next few hours the temperature did fluctuate as we got a few fine wisps of cloud over our heads. First moths to arrive were a few micro's which were quickly potted up and then lots of Common Swifts arrived. There seemed to be periods where there were lots of moths flying in and then it would go completely quiet. Nevertheless we managed some good species including 8 Cream-spot Tiger's, 1 Fox Moth, 12+ Light Brocade and a single Sloe Pug, all being new for me and that is pretty good going considering i've been regularly trapping for over 4 years now. Graham had one new species to a trap, a Puss Moth, which came in right at the last minute of packing up.

Here is the list of Moths recorded on the night and amounts

Macro Moths - (45 species)

6x Common Swift 1x Fox Moth [NEW] - Female 4x Pebble Hook-tip 1x Figure of Eighty 2x Mullein Wave 1x Cream Wave 2x Common Carpet 1x Waved Umber 1x Mottled Pug 3x Common Pug 1x Freyer's Pug 1x Sloe Pug [NEW] 1x Clouded Border 2x Peacock Moth 4x Sharp-angled Peacock 1x Peppered Moth 1x Willow Beauty 2x Pale Oak Beauty 7x Common White Wave 2x Common Wave 2x Clouded Silver 8x Light Emerald 1x Poplar Hawk-moth 1x Elephant Hawk-moth 1x Puss Moth 2x Pebble Prominent 4x Pale Prominent 2x Iron Prominent 8x Cream-spot Tiger Moth [NEW] 1x White Ermine 5x Heart & Dart 3x Shuttle-shaped Dart 4x Flame Shoulder 1x Ingrailed Clay 7x Setaceous Hebrew Character 12x Light Brocade [NEW] 1x Bright-line Brown-eye 2x Clay 1x Shoulder-striped Wainscot 1x Grey Dagger 3x Rustic Shoulder-knot 10x Marbled Minor 10x Mottled Rustic 8x Cream-bordered Green Pea 1x Straw Dot 1x Snout

Micro Moths - (19 species)

1x Argyresthia curvella 1x Coleophora sp. 3x Cochylis hybridella 2x Cochylis nana 1x Cochylis sp. to id 1x Cyclamen Tortrix Clepsis spectrana 1x Cydia nigricana 1x Dichrorampha alpinana 6x Epiblema trimaculana 1x Gypsonoma sociana [NEW] 3x Hedya pruniana 1x Phycitodes maritima 3x Dark Fruit-tree Tortrix Pandemis heparana 1x Syndemis musculana 1x Bramble Shoot Moth Epiblema uddmanniana 1x Epinotia biluna 2x Epiblema cynosbatella 2x Chrysoteuchia culmella 2x Cnephasia sp.

Cream-spot Tiger Moth Copyright: Ben Sale Cream Wave Copyright: Ben Sale Fox Moth Copyright: Ben Sale Mullein Wave 3 Copyright: Ben Sale Cream Bordered Green Pea 4 Copyright: Ben Sale Phycitodes maritima Copyright: Ben Sale

Thu 19th May 2011 18:35 by Graham Smith
Dry, Dry, Dry.
Will it ever rain again? I am getting fed up with watering my vegetable plot every evening. The parsnips have failed to germinate, the spinach is stunted and many of the early potatoes are the size of walnuts. Planting things out is like digging in the desert - chip, chip, chip with the mini-mattock until a small hole is created. Beyond my garden things are more serious. At Bradwell East Hall Farm they have the sprinklers on the wheat, which had begun to turn a sickly shade of yellow in places; the first occasion I have seen them doing this - potatoes and peas yes, but not cereals. At Hitchcock's Meadow EWT Reserve at Danbury the main meadow has dried to a frazzle and most of the plants along with it, including the Green-winged Orchids, which should now be at their peak; while at Blue House, the fields, which are often awash with thousands of Grass Vetchling in late May can muster only a handful this season. If this situation is general then it must surely be having a knock on effect for pollen and nectar seeking insects. Birds too are suffering and I have yet to see any broods of young Blackbirds in my garden, the adults struggling to find enough food (worms being off the menu) for themselves, let along their young.

It's not all doom and gloom though. For the past couple of days I have been helping to run a bird watching course for the Othona Community at Bradwell, which everyone seemed to enjoy. The highlights, ornithologically, were a pair of Peregrines perched obligingly on a pile of hay bales on Bradwell airfield and a fine drake Garganey on the fleet at Blue House. We also saw several Cream-spot Tiger Moths, below, which also brightened things up a bit!

Cream Spot Tiger Moth Copyright: Graham Smith

Tue 17th May 2011 19:00 by Ben Sale
Field Trip - Parndon Wood - Monday night
Decided to trap all night last night with 3 traps, unfortunately the 160w MBT failed on me during the night so I only had the other two to concentrate on. Both traps did very well with the amount of new species for the site, but numbers were quite low which is to be expected as we still shift into early summer.

New for site species included for the Macro Moths, Puss Moth and Large Nutmeg, for the Micro Moths there were Triaxomera parasitella, Teleiodes luculella, Caloptilia alchimiella and the rare Nationally scarce species Elegia similella, which is a brilliant record for Essex!

Both Triaxomera parasitella and Elegia similella were totally new species for me.

Elegia similella was also netted whilst packing up so I could have easily missed it!

Tonight hopes to be even warmer so I will be returning for a few hours after dusk.

Larger 125w MV Robinson Trap (Amongst Bramble and low-growing plants)

Macro Moths

1x Puss Moth [NFS] 1x Large Nutmeg [NFS] 2x Heart & Dart 1x Pale Tussock 1x Ingrailed Clay 1x Treble Lines 15x Orange Footman 2x Green Silver-lines 1x Poplar Lutestring 1x Common Swift 1x Straw Dot 1x Flame Shoulder

Micro Moths

2x Ptycholoma lecheana 1x Incurvaria oehlmanniella 1x Coleophora sp. 1x Syndemis musculana 1x Barred Fruit-tree Tortrix Pandemis cerasana

125w MV Robinson Trap + 22w Hanging Actinic (Under Oak, Birch, Beech and Hornbeam canopy)

Macro Moths

1x Heart & Dart 1x Pale Tussock 2x Pale Oak Beauty 1x Ingrailed Clay 1x Light Emerald 1x Oak Hook-tip 1x Common Wave 1x Bird's Wing 1x Treble Lines 8x Orange Footman 1x Marbled Minor 5x Green Silver-lines 1x Poplar Lutestring 14x Common Swift 3x Brindled White-spot 2x Scorched Wing 1x Brimstone Moth 1x Common Carpet

Micro Moths

1x Elegia similella [NFS] 3x Triaxomera parasitella [NFS] 2x Teleiodes luculella [NFS] 1x Caloptilia alchimiella [NFS] 1x Crambus lathoniellus 1x Celypha lacunana 1x Cnephasia communana 1x Parornix sp. 1x Mompha sp. 1x Brown House Moth Hofmannophila pseudospretella 1x Ptycholoma lecheana 1x Syndemis musculana 1x Barred Fruit-tree Tortrix Pandemis cerasana 1x Epiblema cynosbatella 1x Nematopogon swammerdamella 1x Mompha subbistrigella

Elegia similella 2 Copyright: Ben Sale Poplar Lutestring 3 Copyright: Ben Sale Teleiodes luculella 2 Copyright: Ben Sale Triaxomera parasitella 2 Copyright: Ben Sale

Sun 15th May 2011 09:00 by Ben Sale
Hello Roger

There is plenty of dots to suggest it is quite widespread across the County and i'm sure that trapping in most tetrads would reveal this moth sooner or later, it may also be a little under-recorded due to the similiarity to two other species.

Sat 14th May 2011 10:18 by Roger Mainwood
reply to Ben
Thanks Ben. Can you point me to which database you are looking at? I was looking at this map ....the sightings shown there by the blue dots don't appear to show it as common do they?
Fri 13th May 2011 18:56 by Ben Sale
Nematopogon swammerdamella
That is a great sighting! apparently quite frequent in nearby Hertfordshire, where I had my first one ever near Waterford Heath the other week. Looking at the database for this species it appears common in Essex, although i've never seen one.
Fri 13th May 2011 11:56 by Roger Mainwood
Nematopogon swammerdamella - longhorn moth
I saw what I am told is a rare moth yesterday (12th May 2011) on a hedge in our garden in Wivenhoe. Unfortunately I don't have a camera at the moment, but I found a photo of it by doing a Google search for "moth with very long antennae" It led me to:- I am not a moth expert, but my brother Tony Mainwood is. He is the branch secretary of the Highland butterfly conservation group, based at Golspie in Sutherland, and he tells me "It doesn't have a common name but is one of the Longhorn moths - Nematopogon swammerdamella." He also gave me the link to this Essex Field Club site where I discover that the last siting for this moth nearest to Wivenhoe was in 1996! So I thought I should report it.  It's annoying that I can't give any other evidence of it, but it was definitely the moth that is in that photo. Hard to mistake it. Roger Mainwood, Wivenhoe, Essex
Thu 12th May 2011 17:35 by Ben Sale
Field Trip - Parndon Wood - Wednesday night
Had a terrific night at Parndon Wood last night with 2 possibly 3 new species for me, also my second sighting of Poplar Lutestring, an extremely local moth and one I had a lttle later on in the year in 2010. This still is the only sight where I have recorded this moth.

It was nice to see 2 Ptycholoma lecheana, a very striking species of Tortricidae

The weather was indeed against me again, with clearing skies and a drop from 14c last night at 10pm to 7c this morning, agai this probably affected the numbers.

I too hark what Mary is saying, I have heard a lot of Cuckoo's whilst out fishing lately.

11/05/11 - Parndon Wood - 125w MV Robinson Trap + 22w hanging Actinic with vertical and horizontal white sheets.

Macro Moths

1x Poplar Lutestring 4x Green Silver-lines 12x Pale Tussock 13x Orange Footman 6x Pale Oak Beauty 2x Light Emerald 6x Brindled White-spot 2x Scorched Carpet 4x Scorched Wing 1x Common White Wave 1x Treble Lines 1x Knot Grass 1x Mottled Pug 14x Common Swift 1x Muslin Moth

Micro Moths

1x Capua vulgana [NEW] 2x Ptycholoma lecheana [NEW] 1x Esperia sulphurella 1x Cork Moth Nemapogon cloacella 2x Cnephasia sp. 1x Incurvaria masculella 4x Incurvaria oehlmanniella 1x Deltaornix torquillella 1x Nematopogon swammerdamella

Poplar Lutestring 2 Copyright: Ben Sale Common White Wave 2 Copyright: Ben Sale Capua vulgana Copyright: Ben Sale Ptycholoma lecheana Copyright: Ben Sale

Wed 11th May 2011 21:15 by Mary Smith
cuckoo song
I thought Cuckoos were becoming rare, but this morning in Belhus Woods Country Park one was calling loudly.
Tue 10th May 2011 22:19 by Chris Lewis
Sunday 8th May 520 Coleophora fuscicornis, Foulness, Essex. RDB - first record south of the Blackwater? Picture added to species page More images available at
Sun 8th May 2011 10:39 by Graham Smith
Moth Night at Buckhurst Hill
Friday 6th May : A very successful moth night was held at Linders Field, Buckhurst Hill. Around twenty people attended and all seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves, most remaining until the event closed at midnight. Despite the warm sunny weather Mary mentions 'mothing' has been slow this spring, at least in my garden, but Friday evening was sultry, heralding the rain that arrived in the early hours. 17 species of macro moth were caught by the end of the session, to whit, Flame Shoulder, Heart & Dart, Pale Tussock, Rustic Shoulder Knot, Brimstone Moth, Brindled, Double-striped and Dwarf Pugs, Maiden's Blush, Orange Footman, Green Carpet, Garden Carpet, Broken-barred Carpet (illustrated), Small Phoenix, Clouded Silver, Scalloped Hazel and Shuttle-shaped Dart.

Broken-barred Carpet on 06.05.2011 Copyright: Graham Smith

Congratulations to Nicola and her team from Epping Country Care for organsising such a successful event.

Sat 7th May 2011 09:17 by Mary Smith
Rain at last! Well, a little.
In the early hours of today we had some rain! It had stopped by lunch time, and we only had a total of 1.3mm, but the air smells fresher and leaves have drops on them. We had suffered 23 days with no rain at all, only 1.8mm in the whole of April and only 6.6mm in the whole of March. More rain is forecast, but often it fizzles out before it gets here.....


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