30 Days Wild – Day 2

A much warmer night after a couple of sunny days and now there are more moths appearing in the trap. My highlight at home was a rather beautiful alder moth, the adult is fine and the caterpillar, if you can find one is magnificent, try a web search and see if you don’t agree.

Alder moth

Whilst alder moths are not that frequent in the trap, one of the commonest species is the light brocade and I caught several both in my garden and at Blashford Lakes. The name of this moth harks back to the Victorian days of mothing, when brocade would have been a familiar material.

Light brocade

One of the fascinations of Blashford Lakes is the wide variety of habitats within the reserve. There is a lot of water, both in the form of the lakes themselves and the small Dockens Water river, but also various pools and puddles of various levels of permanence. At the other extreme we have a lot of very dry, sandy habitats, almost all derived from the left-overs of the gravel industry. These dry habitats have lots of rare and interesting species, one I was shown today, that I had not previously seen is shepherd’s cress.

It is similar to the familiar shepherd’s purse, although I confess I do not seem to see that as frequently as I used to. A lot of these rare plants of the dry habitats are small and unprepossessing, they cannot compete with more vigorous species and thrive only in very nutrient poor habitats. An increasing and rather unreported problem is the increase in nutrients falling in rain, particularly nitrogen, which enriches the soil eliminating these specialists of nutrient poor places.

A muggy night ahead with the promise of lots more moths tomorrow, so long as we don’t get too much rain, I may have to get up early in the morning to check the traps.