Sunday, 14 July 2013

Moths galore and a lot of birds too!

When someone mentions a moth night, the topic usually ends with a few 'perhaps' and 'maybe's'. Our past experience of moth nights have fallen well short of the groups expectations with cold nights taking a hit on the size of the moth catch and dampening the enthusiasm of everyone involved.
The forecast for July this year has been perfect for both moth trapping and bird ringing, so what could possibly go wrong?
Well as it happens, everything went brilliantly and possibly the best weekend that I have ever experienced at Stanford Reservoir in my 10 years as a member. I finished work at 3pm on Friday and arranged to meet Ed and Dave at around 4-5pm. I arrived first and quickly erected my tent on the hardest and lumpiest ground imaginable.

After several bent pegs and numerous swallowed flies, Dave arrived. With both tents erected we got to the task of erecting and furling the nets ready for the following morning. We decided to keep the feeder nets open to give us something to occupy ourselves untill it was time to set up the moth trapping equipment.
Ed arrived and erected his bird hide which he had decided to double up as his sleeping quarters which he shared with numerous ground beetles, nice!

A juvenile Great-spotted Woodpecker and a Lesser Whitethroat were the only birds of note before we closed the nets up. Whilst I wandered off down the railtrack to get the generator started, Ed and Dave got their portable barbecue's lit ready for an evening feast. We sat in wait for about an hour before the first moths started to arrive at two lights set up. The numbers and species quickly amounted and we were soon tallying up a long list of species, some I have never seen before. Good numbers of Beautiful Hook-tip and Peppered Moth were notable. We were so engrossed in the spectacular event that it was 1am before anyone realised the time, we had agreed to rise at 4am to open the nets!

I topped up the generator with more fuel and retired to my tent at 1.30am. It felt that I had no longer shut my eyes when I heard Ed's alarm go off. It was 3.50am, warm and clammy. On checking the moth trap, I could see that there were Elephant and Poplar Hawkmoths, Buff Arches, Burnished Brass and many more species. I turned the generator off and covered the trap for checking later. The three of us had the nets unfurled in 30 minutes and Mick, still smiling after his day at Trent bridge, arrived just as we were returning to the railtrack.
This gave us time to check the moth trap before the first round of nets.
Buff Arches

Eyed Hawkmoth

Elephant Hawkmoth

Privet Hawkmoth

Peach Blossom
Peppered Moth

Poplar Grey

Leopard Moth

Poplar Hawkmoth

Over 170 macro moths of 58 species were recorded plus 13 species of micro moth.

Our first round of the nets resulted in 71 birds with the highlight of the day being an adult Spotted Flycatcher in the feeder nets. Warblers were in decent numbers with 13 new Sedge Warbler and 17 new Whitethroat.
Spotted Flycatcher
By 11am we had processed 134 birds and we were all dead on our feet. Ex-member Brian joined us as we were taking the nets down and it was then that I found our 58th moth species for the day. A Lunar Hornet Moth was clinging to the last line of nets to come down!

Catch of the day - Lunar Hornet Moth

If I ran back to the car to get a pot it would no doubt have disappeared so I gently put it in a bird bag and transferred it to a pot when I got back. Hornets and wasps sometimes get entangled in the nets and it was lucky that I looked twice before shaking it off. There are a long line of Poplar trees at Stanford and Hornet Moths have been on my list for a long time. A perfect end to a perfect weekend!

Birds New/retrap (Friday and Saturday)
Great spotted Woodpecker 1/1
Wren 1/1
Dunnock 1/4
Robin 1/0
Blackbird 2/2
Sedge Warbler 13/17
Reed Warbler 4/2
Lesser Whitehroat 3/0
Whitethroat 18/10
Garden Warbler 5/7
Blackcap 3/0
Chiffchaff 1/0
Willow Warbler 2/9
Spotted Flycatcher 1/0
Long-tailed Tit 3/0
Blue Tit 8/6
Great Tit 4/11
Treecreeper 1/0
Tree Sparrow 2/0
Chaffinch 2/0
Linnet 1/0
Bullfinch 0/2
Reed Bunting 0/2

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