Thursday, 11 August 2011

The immigrant question

Mothing this year has been very disappointing, and it is not just St Margaret's! I've read may reports from other mothers (that's moth-ers, not muvvers) who are also experiencing a very poor year.

Even so now and again there's something a bit out of the ordinary in one of my traps. This stunning, of slightly tatty individual is a Jersey Tiger, a relative of the increasingly uncommon Garden Tiger. Once upon a time it was quite easy to categorise, if you caught one it was an immigrant from the continent. It did breed on the Channel Islands and in Devon, but colonies have recently appeared in Dorset and the Isle of Wight, and it has also been found in other southern counties. It now seems to be expanding its range quite quickly. There is also a thriving population in parts of London, but whether this is due to range expansion or the result of accidental introduction is still unclear. So when one appears in a trap near the Kent coast is it a classic immigrant or from a recently colonised population. My guess is a I have only caught the occasional single moth these are likely to be immigrants. At least this time I had a live moth, still in tact, the last time was just the wings!

A moth that definitely is a migrant is the Silver Y, in some years there are thousands of them, and they can be seen during the day, nectaring on almost any available flower along the cliffs at St Margaret's. This year I've only caught a handful and have not noticed any day flying. There's is still time for them to appear in good numbers, but not much. I have seen two Hummingbird Hawk-moths, another migrant, but again compared to the last few years they are comparatively scarce this year.

The Reed Dagger is a moth I've caught a few times. It's normal habitat is red beds, and it's a fair was to any suitable areas to here. It turned up with the Jersey Tiger and the Silver Y. I wonder if it is also a migrant, there must surely be a chance that it is.

So far the birding, apart from some good waders at Sandwich, has not be inspiring here. I can't say I really enjoy looking for migrants, along the cliff top, in gale force winds. It will soon be the peak time for migration, let's hope the weather is a bit kinder to us, and the birds.

1 comment:

Derek Faulkner said...

Its been a strange and quiet year all round, not helped I suppose by it feeling as though we got our summer in April and May and our autumn in June and July - could it mean snow by October?
Moths aside, its also been a very quiet year for bird rarities - not that it bothers me, but I've never known the twitcher brigade be so quiet, I wonder if there's a second hand market in pagers at the moment.