Since my last posting about cuckoos – see here – I have been trying to get a photo of them eating the hairy caterpillars. Today in the early morning mist a got a distant shot of one eating a pale grass eggar and using the fence posts for convenient perching places. The best area to watch this is the western part of the Beach Reserve.
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Archive for the 'Moths' Category
Graeme Lyons, Michael Blencowe and Mat Davidson came over to Rye Harbour yesterday to record a podcast on the reserve. They spent the morning with Barry looking at birds, and then came with me to look at invertebrates. Highlight of the day (and one which I suspect will be diffcult to beat all year) were three male Pellenes tripunctatus, a rare jumping spider only occuring at three places in Britain and only dicovered here last year (actually a year ago today!). We also saw plenty of pale grass eggar caterpillars, and over 30 bombardier beetle!
Pellenes tripunctatus male
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With this declining summer visitor so much in the news recently – click here I havent heard anyone question their food supply here in Britain. They specialise on eating hairy caterpillars and it is generally accepted that populations of moths have declined. Here at Rye Harbour the population of cuckoos is steady AND there are many hairy caterpillars available. Even in this cold wet weather it is easy to find two species of large hairy caterpillar on the shingle habitat – the irritating brown-tail moth and the nationally rare pale grass eggar – and it is easy to watch the cuckoos eating them… Read the rest of this entry »
I have been searching for the first signs of some Hairy Dragonfly emergence over the last week and was hopeful today of finding some exuviae, but found none. There was however some teneral damseflies in the margins and most appeared to be Azure Damsefly. While checking out some potential emergence supports I came across a moth called The Spectacle. When looked at head on it’s obvious how it gets its name, the antennae also create a nice Jimmy Edwards style handlebar moustache.
Saturday 17th March. An illustrated talk by Graeme Lyons, Sussex Wildlife Trust Ecologist. Some of the more exciting moth-related stories Graeme and other moth-ers have experienced over the last 20 years. Organised by the Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. Meet at Winchelsea Beach Community Hall at 7:30pm. Open to all, donations appreciated.
Birds aren’t the only things flying in January; there are a few moths too. Today I trapped two Pale Brindled Beauties at Rye, one melanic (monacharia) and one the normal form. Both are males, as the females are wingless. Melanics were unknown in East Sussex until the 1960s but now comprise up to 5% of the population.
This afternoon on the saltings between Rye and Northpoint, a Pale-bellied Brent (B.b. hrota) with 40 Dark-bellied Brents and 30 Canadas. And the regular adult Common Sandpiper was in position by Monkbretton Bridge. Earlier today a Cypress Carpet by my moth trap was a nice surprise – yet another recent colonist since the first East Sussex record only 15 years ago.
Today in my trap I found this small moth of the family Tortricidae. Not recognising it, I posted the photo to the ukmicromoths Yahoo group. Majority opinion is that it is Acleris umbrana (a.k.a. Dark-streaked Button), which would be about the sixth Sussex record, all but one since 2006, so it’s another of those very recent colonists from across the Channel to southern coastal counties, nationally rare and proposed as Red Data Book Class 1. BUT, there are similar Acleris that can be highly variable, so closer examination is being arranged to confirm its identity.
Both the English and scientific names of Dewick’s Plusia (Macdunnoughia confusa) are quite bizarre, and it’s a pretty moth too, related to the familiar Silver Y but smaller and brighter with a gleaming silver mark on the wing. First found in the UK by A.J. Dewick at Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex, in October 1951, it remained a rare vagrant until the last decade. Now it’s thought to be well established with at least four colonies in Sussex alone. Chris caught one at Rye Harbour on 2nd October, the fifth reserve record, but the one in my trap this morning was my first ever.
The last few days of September and early October have been good with four Clifden Nonpareils, a Scarce Bordered Straw and a Vestal in my garden trap near Staplecross, but last night this Dotted Chestnut was the highlight. This Nationally Scarce B species seems to be expanding its range and is described by Colin Pratt in his book as ‘a Sussex speciality, but even here it has always existed at a low density, and has been very local, elusive, and episodic in appearance’.