I am head down writing a book at present, and time off is hard to come by without feeling immensely guilty. Yesterday, however, I splurged on a full-day bunk. The morning was spent at Strumpshaw Fen on a press trip, which I shall blog about later. The afternoon comprised a moth-twitch. I rarely travel more than 20 minutes to see new moths that have been caught by other people; yesterday was 90 minutes each way in the company of Dave Andrews and Will Soar. But the target was more than worth it: Spurge Hawk-moth at Landguard Bird Observatory.
Spurge Hawk-moth is a very rare moth in the UK? From 1990-2008, just 12 adults were recorded. Landguard had one last year, but childcare prevented me from seeing it being released. This summer, following a tip-off from James Hanlon, I discovered that they have been caught almost nightly over the past week. This seemed too good to be true, so Will Soar and I tried to arrange to be present at the opening of a trap.
This wasn't possible, but kind-hearted local naturalist Will Brame sorted an even better solution. When one was revealed in the morning moth trap, Will swiftly potted and fridged it, then invited us to come along for a butchers. Thus at 3pm, Will S, Dave and I met Will B at the Landguard Fort gate. The latter announced that he had chanced upon a Greenish Warbler as he came to get us - karma for his generosity no doubt. Whilst the phyllosc failed to perform for us (although it was refound in the same place 22 hours later, the stunning Spurge was absolutely brilliant. More a pink Lime Hawk-moth than a fancy Bedstraw. More than worth the splurge of time. Will Brame, we salute you!