Sunday, 28 September 2008

A quieter day.

Although mothing has been relatively quiet this year there were a few moths of interest in the traps this morning.

Northern Rustic (Standfussiana lucernea)

This Northern Rustic is the third I've caught in my garden and the fourth in St Margaret's ( one caught at Copperfields). Two were in 2007 and two this year. As far as I can ascertain it is quite a rare moth in Kent, there have been three in the Dungeness area, singles in 1994, 2002 and 2006, and on their site it is described as a vagrant. It has been recorded at Folkestone Warren but I can't find any recent records. Last night's moth, on 27th September is the latest of the records I can find. The normal habitat of this moth is mainly coastal, inhabiting cliffs and rocky places, so it is possible there is a small population in the area.

Pink-barred Sallow (Xanthia togata)

If I've identified this correctly (as a Sallow), it's the second for the garden. Note: As Richard suspected, in his comment, this is a Pink-barred Sallow, and a garden first. Nigel Jarman popped in and sorted a few of my mysteries and mis-identifications for me!(I curse my poor colour vision, unfortunately there are no glasses for "Daltonism").
There are five species of sallow that fly in the Autumn and the only one I get regularly is the Centre-barred Sallow and this normally ceases to fly by the last week of September.

Barred Sallow (Xanthia aaurago)

The Barred Sallow is the second most common Sallow in the garden with a dozen records before this year. Previous records run from 29th September to 20th October, so this one is the earliest by two days.

Feathered Ranunculus (Polymixis lichenea)

The Feathered Ranunculus is locally common in Kent, it is a variable coloured moth, but always with the same underlying pattern. It is often found in coastal areas and is mainly on the wing from the beginning of September to the middle of October, with some as early as late August. I don't know if the scientific name refers to the cryptic pattern, rather like lichen or not. It certainly is an appropriate name.

The only migrant moth I caught last night was a Dark Sword-grass. This moth can occur in all months from March to November, and it is possible that some survive mild winters. It his is the case, as we get more and more frost free winters it could become a resident. In large numbers is can become a pest of some crops. It is easily recognised by the line of dart marks near the end of the wings. When the wings are open it has bright with hind wings, that are quite a surprise given the overall sombre appearance.

Birding was much quieter today and I contrived to miss the best bird of the day, a Dartford Warbler at Hope Point. It had gone into the thick cover and didn't reappear white I was there. There were still quite a few of the commoner migrants around but not the excitement of the last two days.


richard said...

Hi Tony,
I'm very envious of the moths you're catching as I'm in land locked Surrey, so no coastal species and very few migrants.
I do get several of the Sallows however, and one that I caught yesterday I thought was a Pink-barred but looked exactly like your photo of a Sallow. Please advise.
All the best,

Tony Morris said...

Hi Richard, I first identified it as a Pink-barred Sallow, but my colour vision is rubbish and my wife is away for a couple of days (I normally use her eyes when I'm not sure of colour). I sent a picture to a friend who hasn't come back to me yet, but in the mean time I looked at a few pictures and decided that it was probably a Sallow. Now you're making me uncertain, I'll wait for Nigel to get back to me a post what I hope is a definitive answer.
Thanks for looking and commenting.

richard said...

Hi again Tony,
I've found the colour of the head is usually a good pointer, pink on PBS and yellow on the Sallow (presumably you can see the contrast) but I'm not too certain if this is always reliable so best wait for the definitive answer.