Monday, 24 July 2017

Trying out a Moth Trap

For my birthday this month, I got a Moth Trap. I have been toying with the idea of getting one for some years now. Moths are a taxa that I am not particularly familiar with. I spend much of my wildlife time in daylight and so do not really come across them.

They are fascinating species and have a wide range of morphologies and life cycles. In fact, there are far more species of moth in the UK than there are Butterflies. After a bit of research, I asked for a portable 6 watt 12 volt Actinic Bulb Heath Trap - http://www.nhbs.com/title/160780/6w-12v-portable-heath-moth-trap

The trap arrived in good condition but needed a separate battery for operation. It is simple to assemble and well constructed. Metal panels make it durable whilst plastic funnels and veins direct moths into the collecting chamber whilst also keeping out the rain.

After reading up a little and watching a few you tube clips I set up the trap last night on the patio in my garden. I left it on over night and with some trepidation, I checked it this morning. I was hesitant as on some clips traps had attracted hundreds of moths and I did not think I was up to such identification challenges. As luck would have it the trap contained only a few moths.

As I carefully removed the egg boxes I managed to trap and/or photograph 12 moths. Only three managed to escape one Macro - the largest in the tap and two micro.

Of these 12 moths, five were Macro Moths and 7 Micro Moths. I then began the task of identifying them - I used: UK Moths and  British Moths and Butterflies. Below are the ones I have identified, most of the micros are too difficult for me and if you think I have something wrong let me know, I am very much a beginner at this.

Plume Moth - Amblytilia acanthadactyla 

Riband Wave - Ideae aversata 
Possibly a Black Owlet - Scythris grandipennis


Single Dotted Wave - Ideae dimidata

Cabbage Moth? -Mamestra brassicae

Large Yellow Underwing - Noctua pronuba

Common Carpet - Epirrhoe alternata

These are the micro moths I have been unable to identify:






I look forward to repeating the procedure next weekend and then venturing down to my land to increase the species list down there.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Could Micheal Gove save conservation in the UK?

A little under a year ago I reported on this blog my response to a letter I sent to our new Secretary of the Environment Andrea Leadsom. Twelve months have passed and we now have a new Secretary Michael Gove. I have to admit to rolling my eyes when hearing about his appointment. I work in education and so am familiar with his work, I have also, however, been assured of his razor intellect and ability to focus on important issues.

Farming is Mr Gove's First Target


I had the feeling his appointment was nothing but a political move in order to get a possible ally or enemy into the cabinet to prop up a post election unstable government. I saw him as a stop gap and so decided not to write to him this time. This week, however, I have readjusted my view, could Gove actually achieve something for nature conservation?

Mr Gove made his first speech this week and some of what he said filled me with encouragement. I have talked about my apprehension about the loss of environmental protection during Brexit as well as my hope that this will be a new chance for improvement and this speech seems to suggest that the government might also think this way.

His speech outlined his plans for a ‘green brexit’ and he extolled the virtues farming in partnership with conservation and even commented on his ‘deep regret’ that America has pulled out of the Paris Climate Change Agreements.

The key thrust of Gove’s speech which he reiterated on Radio 4’s Today programme was a need to shift the emphasis of the subsidy programme to farmers. These subsidies come from the EU Common Agricultural Policy. Over the years this scheme has come under fire, yes it helped create some protection for the environment but it also led to problems with the execution of the subsidies where in fact many landowners could be compensated for doing very little.

Gove’s new plans suggest a more rigorous approach to ensure that pays to protect. This harks back to the old adage of the ‘polluter pays principle’. I m not against farming, they truly are the guardians of our countryside but as a total industry, they can be lacking. Farming is a hard job but by offering proper financial incentives to effective measures would be very beneficial. This is the perfect time to restructure the payment structures to link subsidies to the burgeoning field of ecosystem services and whilst I am yet to be fully sold on the commodification of the ecosystem a more focused system can only be good.


Mr Gove’s tenacious nature also bodes well, he pushed through reforms to standards in teaching against the large teaching unions and so his ability to get things done cannot be questioned the actual question is what do we want him to get done? As nature conservationists or concerned parties, we need to get in at the ground form so that other lobbies don’t change the path. Perhaps it is time for us all to write to Mr Gove and encourage him to pursue this ‘green brexit’ vision and to do so with the backing of the science behind.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Commas everywhere

Today out on my patch the Comma butterflies were out in force. I recorded over 10 feeding on the extensive bramble flowers. All were vibrant orange, still glistening in their newly emerged form.



Comma -  Polygonia c-album

Bivoltine - March to End of April, July to Early October

First Sighting date in the Patch.

2003 -                                  13th July
2004 -                                    4th July
2005 -                  26th June
2006 -                                    2nd July
2007 -                                     8th July
2008 -                                     7th July
2009 - 10th May
2010 -                                    4th July
2011 -                                   2nd July
2012 -                                   8th July
2013 -                                 14th July
2014 -                29th June
2015 -                  7th June
2016 - 8th May
2017 -                                 10th July

Alongside the Comma's there were several Ringlets, a Meadow Brown and several Large Skippers.So far this season had been poor for butterflies but now seemed to be picking up.

The first of the Brown Hawker Dragonflies were on the wing and unusually I heard the first grasshopper -  Field Grasshopper whose orangy red abdomen caused me some confusion for some time.


Camera Update

My new camera is back up and running and this week it caught two interesting sights.

The first is a short glimpse of a Roe Deer. The first Roe Deer sighting was on the 14th May and was a doe. This week a young buck appeared on camera for a few seconds. You can briefly see the short horns.

video

The arrival of this species is interesting, as I stated before there aren't many habitats for Roe Deer nearby and had the individual being a female again I would have guessed that a lone individual was passing through the area but in this case the animal is definitely a different individual suggesting that there is a larger population in the area than I would have expected.

Secondly is a shot that I always hoped I might one day get. As you may have seen from other blog posts the site is blessed with a fluctuating population of Wood Mice, the numbers seem to rise and fall reflecting not only changes in weather but also predation.

video

I have recorded Tawny Owls on the site in the past, I have found pellets and was even lucky enough to see a youngster some years ago. The next clip is of a Tawny Owl emerging from a hunt. Obviously, in pursuit of some prey, the Owl has swooped down but become entangled in the undergrowth. In the brief footage, I do not think the owl's hunt was successful.