Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Swings and round-a-bouts

Mothing is a rather strange type of hobby for a naturalist. It's more like fishing than most other branches of natural history. I set my traps up and then, in the morning look to see what I've caught. No walking miles or scanning the sea with a telescope for hours. A comfortable seat, a cup of tea, note book, pen, lens and a few books, and i can go through the traps while John Humphrys argues with some politician, who is avoiding what ever question he should be answering.

Bedstraw Hawk-Moth (Hyles gallii)

Every now and again something breaks the routine. A moth I don't recognise perhaps, or better still one I do recognise, but have never caught or seen (apart from pictures) before. And that it what happened today. I'd gone through the routine of recording all of the moths in my No 1 trap, the main trap in the back garden with a 125 MV bulb. It wasn't too bad, 118 moths of 38 species, but nothing unusual or particularly eye-catching. Next up was the second trap, an actinic tube, which I run next to my mothing conservatory. As looked in I could see a half hidden Hawk moth that I didn't immediately recognise. I moved an egg box out of the way and there it was in it's full glory, a slightly worn Bedstraw Hawk-moth. Not as mega- rarity. but a scarce migrant with just one or two reported in Kent each year. The light was still very poor and I took a record shot using flash, to ensure I did have one picture.

Although it really never go bright today I did get a couple more pictures. It is quite similar to the Spurge Hawk-moth I caught on 21 June 2007. One of the most striking differences is the colour of the antennae. On the Spurge Hawk-moth they are strikingly white as shown here, while the Bedstraw's were quite dark.

This Hawk-moth is similar in size to the Elephant Hawk-moth. It is manly a migrant in the UK although there are some breeding populations established in Norfolk, presumably established after a major influx from the south.
Had I been scanning the sea with a telescope this morning I might have seen the Cory's Shearwater at 11.19 am that Jack and Phil saw from the bay. It of course did not return after I arrived at 11.35 am. Win some, loose some.

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