James Lowen 

Mind you, not all the macros were easy either. This noctuid started out in my notebook as Red Chestnut, then morphed into Dark Chestnut, before finally returning to a poorly marked/abraded Red Chestnut again (it looked much duskier in life than it does on this flash-enhanced, Photoshop-brightened photo). It's probably something else entirely...

And then there's stuff whose identification will make my eyes bleed before the end of the night. This very small Andrena mining-bee, for example, which is common in the garden but very very fast indeed. 


12 April 2020 WTF do I know?

I have spent most of today gnashing teeth or tearing hair out as I fume at my ineptitude with mini-critters. So much stuff is just so small and I just cannot tell what they all are. This irritates me greatly. But I will start with some things whose names I do know. Above all, Dark-edged Bee-flies. These are having a spectacularly good spring - and not, I wager, just because we are all confined to our patios and gardens, and thus noticing them. I spend quite a bit of time in my garden, mooching or composing prose, and never have I seen more than three or so bee-flies at a time. This past fortnight, twenty has been a routine count. And what corkers they are.

Here's another creature whose name I know. Frosted Green also seems to be having a good spring. 

The Frosted Green was part of the year's best moth catch so far - 72 individuals of 24 species - unsurprising in temperatures that stayed as high as 15C for much of the night. These included (a) at least two new moths for me: Epermenia haerophyllela (Garden Lancewing; which sadly escaped before being photographed) and Phyllonorycter corylifoliella(Hawthorn Midget, a fortunately weakly patterned member of its look-a-like genus); (b) another apparent Caloptilia hemidactylella (Sycamore Slender) after my fourth for Norfolk the other night (not third, as I thought; there were two in Justin Farthing's garden last July - moreover, Justin caught another one last night too!); (c) a Caloptilia falconipenella (Scarce Alder Slender; nationally scarce and new for the garden); and (d) an intriguing but ultimately frustrating Acleris that looks like being A. schallerania (Viburnum Button), particularly given the little tuft-like scales visible, but would need its bits chopping to confidently differentiate from A. comariana and A. laterana. Confusing little things, micro moths.

And that's before I even turn to the hoverfly​ I caught... Identification conundrums aside, today's focus on the small and local has opened my eyes to the bounty that lives around us. And that, surely, is worth celebrating... with a refreshingly easy-to-identify and utterly wondrous Pine Beauty.

As for other critters, a Nomad Bee caused me anguish (as I was in entirely the wrong neck of the woods for hours until rescued by Phil Saunders, Will Soar and Mike Hoit - to whom many thanks), but it looks likely to be Marsham's Nomad Bee, although Gooden's was in contention for a while. Either way, it seems common in my garden, with up to six on a walk round.