Rare immigrant moth now a bit rarer…

130928Blashford 2 by J Day _resize

The moth pictured above is a clifden nonpareil, Catocala fraxini, and closely related to the perhaps more familiar red underwing moth which features regularly in this blog at this time of year. This moth however has a lovely pale blue band across its underwing, not pictured here, and the clifden nonpareil is a much more unusual find as it is now believed to be an occasional immigrant, though a significant number have been recorded elsewhere in the country this year, so it is not altogether surprising that we should get one at Blashford. A small population used to breed in parts of Kent and Norfolk, but has not been recorded as a UK breeding species since the middle of the last century. Sadly a close look at this one will reveal the reasons for the title of todays blog – it is headless! I’m not sure what was responsible for its demise, but I suspect it may have been one of the hornets that I released from the trap this morning as there was little evidence of more dead moths, which there would have been had a bird got in the trap again.

There wasn’t a large number of moths caught, and unusually large yellow underwing was not the most common in the trap last night, it playing second fiddle to light emeralds, like that below, of which there were at least 10 (including those not in the trap, but on the wall of the centre).

130928Blashford 3 by J Day _resize

Very prevalent last night were caddisflies, of which this species particularly caught my eye as its mottled wings are really quite attractive:

130928Blashford 1 by J Day _resize

I haven’t really got a clue as to what species it is: a trawl of fly fishing sites on the internet pointed towards a “speckled Peter“, Agrypnia varia. It is a lovely name(!) but the flight times don’t seem to tie in so if there are any anglers out there who think they know better I am very open to suggestions!

I haven’t a great deal more to report from today – a very wet start gave way by late morning to the odd glimmer of sunshine, but mostly fairly grey, and the reserve has not been particularly busy. What did strike me as I opened up were that there were still a few house martins over the eastern shore of Ibsley Water and that as I came out of Ivy South Hide there were about 30 more house martins, all flying the “wrong way”; i.e. north! I can only presume they were heading over to join their cousins over Ibsley Water having made a start for the coast and the next leg of their migration, only to think better of it when they saw the weather, turn around and head back!

I will finish with a photo of the Ivy Lake osprey that was kindly bought in for us by George Dunkling yesterday afternoon – don’t get excited, it’s not back, but it is a lovely shot of a striking bird, and if like me you missed out on the close up views that others (like George) enjoyed, it will give you a taste of what you (and I!) missed!

130912 Blashford Osprey by G Dunkling.JPG


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