Spot the egg?
If Rannoch Brindled Beauty starred on our outwards journey, it was Belted Beauty that took pole position on the return. Justin was driving, Will and I dozing. Somehow, Justin failed to turn off at the right junction and miraculously we found ourselves crawling in a traffic jam conveniently close to the Heysham turn-off. As Justin hadn't been with us last weekend and the sun was shining, it would have been rude not to divert for a saltmarsh stroll. Unbeknownst to us, Steve Palmer had done his usual transect earlier in the day, and found just a handful of individuals. We bowled up just as the high tide was retreating and counted 15 individuals - four males and 11 females. The female count was vastly better than ours last week: perhaps we had simply got our eye in. But males were well down - and none were on the short turf, as they were in the previous visit. Justin was so delighted that he fell over into a muddy creek. The things people do for moths...
First up was Rannoch Brindled Beauty, a rare and restricted-range moth We hoped to see this on our Scottish trip, so while we were en route, we were delighted to receive a message from Peter Stronach that he had just found a female near Newtonmore. Ninety minutes later we were watching this flightless wonder lay eggs. Some have described the female as a furry woodlouse, others as bellybutton fluff. But I rather love her. Two days later we returned to the site for another crack at finding a male. We failed, but did spot five females - all on fenceposts.
I wrote a blog earlier this month entitled Line of Beauty. It related to the Butterfly Conservation survey for Belted Beauty at its English stronghold near Heysham, Lancashire. In a five-day period in the week that followed, I contrived to see five species of moth with 'Beauty' in their common name. Five Beauties in five days counts as a pentagon in my book. Three were common species: Pine Beauty (of which we caught many in Deeside), Oak Beauty (caught at home) and Brindled Beauty (caught in both places). The other two species were much rarer!