These past few weeks has really seen a strengthening of our Norwich-and-area moth-ing community. When someone has caught a rare moth, they almost without fail offer slots for others to view it. Those visitors bring with them unusual moths that they have caught - or even that a third party has caught. This has made for highly efficient enjoyment of scarce moths - although there are plenty of mothers who argue vehemently that such moths cannot be 'ticked' on a life list. Given that I don't have a serious moth life list, such arguments do not sway me one way or another. I like seeing and photographing moths, period. Whether I can 'tick' them is of much lesser importance. So here are a few that I have travelled a couple of miles to see, or that have travelled a couple of miles to be seen by me... The stars are (the Red Data Book-listed) Marsh Button, Muslin Footman, and The Lackey.
If this were not impressive enough, Will then convincingly made his case that micros must be scrutinised when he turned up what appears to be a Black Groundling Gelechia nigra in his garden trap by the River Yare at Bowthorpe. If confirmed, this would be the first Norfolk record since 1874. It is also very scarce at a national level.
Moths have been so dominant recently, that there's not been time for much else. I had a nice day out with Dave Gandy. We started at Kelling Heath, where we mooched around with Marcus Nash for a bit. Silver-studded Blue was common (100? see photos below), July Belle pretty much so (20 seen! I'd only seen one before, and that was in Scotland the previous week) and Silver Y abundant (300?). We birded Kelling Water Meadows and Cley, seeing a fair diversity of waders: three stylishly sooty Spotted Redshank and 20 glorious male Ruff being the highlights, with a supporting cast of three Spoonbill (including a juvenile begging from an adult), two Greenshank and a Whimbrel,
Then let's throw in another goodie that I caught. This one is Golden Pearl Anania verbascalis. Nationally Scarce B, very local in Britain overall, and fewer than 100 Norfolk records despite Norfolk being one of the best counties to see it. The jury is out on whether this is a locally bred individual that has wandered from Breckland or an immigrant from Europe. But given (a) the prevailing easterlies, (b) my recent scarce migrant haul and (c) previous Norfolk records including some from the east coast, my euro is firmly plonked on the latter.
Now back to my garden. It has been a cracking period for mothing, even without the rarities. The numbers (nearly 600, one morning) and diversity (up to 90 species) has been enjoyable. I only wish I had more time to go through the catch and scrutinise it properly. ('My' time is before my daughter wakes and school-run chaos ensues.) So here are few of the recent favourites. The best have been Red-belted Clearwings (up to five a day, and easily seen without lures as the males carouse around the apple tree), Dotted Fan-foot, Lesser Pearl, Dingy Shears, Knot-grass and Olive.
And a rather off-beat thing to finish with. When we were down at Canvey Wick last month,watching Southern Migrant Hawkers take their first flight, Phil spotted this exuviae. Being the only one wearing suitable footpath, I got a bit damp and nabbed it. A rare thing indeed. And one that makes Mr Soar (who likes dead things) rather, erm, sore.
Next up, let's go for a couple of Will Soar's amazing catches. He, Iain Barr and Phil Saunders caught not one but two Twin-barred Dwarf Elachista gleichenella at a site along the River Bure just after Phil, Will and I got back from Scotland. This transpired to be the first Norfolk record since the 19th century. Chances are that it has been here all along but gone undetected for 130 years. What a catch!
I have managed 'emergency' blogs on the really rare moths that I've caught in recent weeks (well, recent days, actually; see here and here), but haven't found time to update on the wider moth-ing summer, or on moths that other people have kindly let me see. This post - a bit of a monster - seeks to put things right. So let's start with a bit of a monster moth: Goat Moth. This beauty is one of two caught at Weeting Heath at the weekend. Huge - but actually less massive than I had envisaged. I still yearn to see a larvae, though.