Throw in various amphibians, mammals and some decent birds, and this was a very fine evening. One worthy of missing the pub.
A very special evening, yesterday. At roughly the time when I am yearning to collapse onto a mattress, there to sleep for as many hours as my daughter decrees, Will Soar and I arrived on the North Norfolk coast. Our quest was Bedstraw Hawkmoth, a colony of which breeds quietly at a routinely suppressed location (so please don't ask me for it). Mike McCarthy and I had failed to see this last summer - probably because we were working on 20-year-old gen. With information via James Emerson and John Furse on caterpillars seen last year, plus a day-time record from this year (so we knew they were on the wing), I was itching to succeed. A series of warm evenings this week were too good to ignore, so Will and I absconded from the weekly pub meet and took nets, torches and expectations.
Initial signs were not good. We couldn't find anything flowering - not willowherb (one of the caterpillar's food plants), not anything. We consoled ourselves by marvelling at Coastal Stiletto-flies (above). Then Will spotted something fly past quickly. I won't embarrass the poor lad by telling what he thought it was, but suffice to say he thought it was something other than a moth. Once he described it, we realised it was worthy of investigation and headed in its direction. We then came across a whole load of flowering honeysuckle winding its way around privet, next to a bed of willowherb. This combination seemed very promising, so we decided to wait... and within five minutes in came a Bedstraw Hawkmoth! Between 21h10 and 22h15 (when we departed, things having gone a bit quiet), we had seven or more visits from at least two individuals (two being present simultaneously). GET IN!
On a high, we started wandering back... and found more decent moths. The highlight was indisputably a Flame Wainscot, a nationally scarce moth of open reed beds in East Anglia. But a Breckland Plume (also nationally scarce) wasn't bad either. Nor, for that matter, a Great Prominent.