Friday, 28 September 2012


Whilst sorting through our firewood yesterday I came across this curious looking creature.

Forest Shield Bug

I rescued it from the impending fire and watched it happily scuttling off into the undergrowth. A bit of investigation shows that this is a Forest Shield Bug, which has a liking for trees and apparently can be considered as a garden pest. I'm not sure I like the term 'garden pest', I'm quite happy with it being here.

We also had this lovely Angle Shades moth in the porch last night.

Angle Shades

Sunday, 16 September 2012

White Ermine in the making

We found this curious looking creature on a wander up Batch Valley today.

White Ermine larva

Given the dark colour and red line line, you would possibly not expect that this would become a beautiful white moth. This is the larva of a White Ermine, a beautiful white moth with small black spots. The moth will not be flying until May of next year, and this larva will overwinter as a pupa in a cocoon amongst plant debris.

White Ermine larva

Also of interest this weekend, though escaping the camera lens, was a Kingfisher. Jo was lucky to see one on the way back to the house on Sunday morning, perched on a concrete slab before disappearing down the stream.

Saturday, 15 September 2012


Some beautiful flies on the brambles in the garden today. One of which I am yet to identify, this black insect with yellow 'armpits'. I am sure that it is some type of Tachinid fly, but not sure which one.

Tachinid Fly

Tachinid Fly

There was also this Green Bottle Fly.

Green Bottle Fly

Friday, 14 September 2012


A very windy night in Batch Valley. I put out the moth trap in the usual spot and promptly had to move it to the back of the house. It then rained and so I was delighted to catch any moths. I still managed a new one, a rather worn Brindled Green.

Brindled Green

Otherwise quite a variable catch. Nice to see a couple of Autumnal Rustics, as well as Brimstone Moths and some Common Marbled Carpets.

Common Marbled Carpet

Brimstone Moth

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Hedging my bets

The moth trap went out last night before I went to the pub for a couple of ales, and when I came back I knew it was not going to be a great catch. It was clear and cold, and I could only see one moth in the trap. This morning I was therefore not surprised to only find 27 moths. Though I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were three new species for me.

The first of these was a Green Carpet, on the eggboxes I put around the outside of the trap. This is actually a rather common species and one I thought I would have seen by now.

Green Carpet

Whilst looking through the Flounced Rustics (again the most abundant species), I found two dark nocuitds. I first thought these were a dark from of the former, but a closer look meant they surely had to be something different. Curiously, whilst they both looked the same in terms of markings, they was a difference in size and structure between the two. I eventually settled on these being Hedge Rustics, and a look at images on the internet confirmed this.

Hedge Rustics

The other new moth was a Brown-spot Pinion. Apparently a very common moth which is beginning to come into it's flight season, so I am expecting a few more of these. Otherwise it was the usual suspects, though there was a nice Antler Moth in the trap as well.

Brown-spot Pinion

Antler Moth

Saturday, 8 September 2012

A view of Batch Valley

We took a long planned walk to the top of Caer Caradoc today. This imposing hill is opposite All Stretton, and since we moved to Batch Valley we have been looking forward to making it to the top of the hill we see from our garden. We were not disappointed, with a glorious view of Batch Valley and the Long Mynd.

The view from the top of Caer Caradoc. Batch Valley is in the centre of the picture.

We were not the only ones out and about on Caer Caradoc today. Close to the very top we found this Fox Moth larva going about it's business. A species found across the Shropshire Hills, this is another insect to be looking out for around Batch Valley.

Fox Moth larva

The Moth Trap will be going out tonight. Not expecting a huge catch, but hoping for a few new species.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Hat decoration

This Black Darter was using a floppy hat as a resting place at Whixall Moss today.

Black Darter

Sunday, 2 September 2012


We ventured out of Batch Valley and onto the Long Mynd today, walking up Townbrook Hollow and back down Ashes Hollow. One of our favourite walks and plenty of butterflies were in evidence once the sun started to shine, including a Grayling which just eluded the camera. On the walk back across to Church Stretton we came across this nectaring on thistles.


This is the first Wall butterfly I have seen for decades. They have declined substantially in central England and I never saw one when I lived in Oxfordshire. So I was very pleased to see this beautiful insect. We also came across this interesting fungi which I need to look up.


After I walk we popped up to Hanwood, and found this pretty Silver Y moth hanging on a Hydranga.

Silver Y

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Autumnal change

The autumnal feel in the weather has been matched by the appearance of a new moth for the garden. This time a beautiful Autumnal Rustic. This is a moth I had been hoping to record, and I was not disappointed when I saw the insect this morning.

Autumnal Rustic

I also recorded another new macro species this morning, one of the Treble-bars. Though it look like a distinctive moth, there are two very similar species - the Treble-bar and it's congener the Lesser Treble-bar. So I had an (undignified) look at the claspers at the tip of the abdomen, and by their long and pointed shape I was able to identify it as a Treble-bar.

With distinctive pointed claspers

The other new moth for the garden was a beautiful mico moth called Cydia splendana.

Cydia splendana

Other highlights in the trap were another Canary-shouldered Thorn, a Feathered Gothic and a Small Wainscot. Flounced Rustics made up a third of all moths caught with 17 individuals. There were also a few yet to identify, which I will get onto in the next couple of days.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Mystery solved?

On my very first trap on 4 August, two of the first moths I pulled out of the trap were these ones.

The Annulet (and a mystery pug)

Being just two of the many moths that I could not identify, I took a quick photograph and thought no more about it. Over the next couple of days I worked through most of my photographs, but these two (and a couple of Uncertain-type moths) were troubling me.

I posted these as identification queries forums and the first replies I got suggested the larger moth was The Annulet and the smaller moth a Wormwood Pug, and I was happy with this. This was until I looked into the distributions and found out that Annulet would be quite unusual in Shropshire. So I asked another expert who thought is was not an Annulet, but actually an Engrailed. I also looked into the pug a bit more and was not happy that it could be safely identified and am still set in that view. Totally confused I posted the picture on another forum, and the unanimous opinion was Annulet for the large moth (and uncertainty for the smaller one).

So is the mystery solved? Well, yes and no. Despite all the positive identifications, the one doubting voice means there should be some uncertainty. However, I have looked and looked I am now convinced that this is The Annulet. I am very grateful indeed for those who have looked at my pictures and have given their opinions. I am just hoping that in time I will catch a more obvious example.

Monday, 27 August 2012

A hawk and two canaries

I good nights weather saw the moth trap going out on Saturday night. I had a feeling it was going to be an interesting, if not a bumper, catch when I checked the trap before going to bed and saw a Feathered Gothic nestling in the egg boxes. I decided to leave it until the morning rather than disturb the trap, and it was one of last moths I took out.

Feathered Gothic

The first moth I saw on Sunday morning was a beautiful thorn clinging to the outside of the trap. The moth was quickly potted and then easily identified as a Canary-shouldered Thorn, the third thorn in four trapping sessions following Early and September Thorns this month.

Canary-shouldered Thorn

As soon as I looked in the trap a broad grin stretched across my face as the familiar profile of this beast was obvious.

Poplar Hawk-moth

This Poplar Hawk-moth is one of the species I was looking forward to catching, and I was not disappointed with this exquisite moth.

Poplar Hawk-moth

There were plenty of other good moths in the trap. This included new macro species Common Carpet, Common Marbled Carpet and a Small Wainscot. I also made an effort with more of the micros, and this added Blastobasis adustella, Agriphila geniculea and Agriphila tristella. One the the most interesting things about trapping regularly is seeing how the spectrum changes over time, with 16 Flounced Rustic becoming the commonest moth this week and only one Scarce Footman caught, as opposed to 2 of the former and 41 of the latter two weeks ago.

Small Wainscot

Saturday, 25 August 2012

25 August

This Single-dotted Wave is roosting in our porch this morning.

Single-dotted Wave
I think the moth trap will be going out tonight.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Stag night

Since I have become interested in moths I have got into the habit of turning the porch light on for half an hour before I go to bed, to see if anything is attracted. I did this on Monday night, and it soon turned into a stag night, with this striking Antler Moth attracted to my simple moth lure.

Antler Moth

Though a slightly bedgralled specimen, it is a beautiful insect all the same and it did not pose too much of an identification challenge. The moth is so named bacause of the white antler-shaped markings on each forewing, but the whole appearance is rather splendid. Before too long the moth was vibrating its wings to prepare for its escape.

Antler Moth

Monday, 20 August 2012


I was working in the garden yesterday afternoon and saw this creature making it's way across the drive.

Buff-tip larva

I took a few photographs and managed to find some time today to have a go at identifying it. Turned out to be quite a straightforward identification as a Buff-tip moth larva. This will overwinter in an earth chamber before the adult is flying in May, and will become a wonderful looking moth. and I started trapping a bit too late this year to catch one of these, but I will be looking out for these next year.

Buff-tip larva

Sunday, 19 August 2012

18 August

A moth trapping session on Saturday night revealed another six new species for the garden, out of 50 moths identified. The first was this beauty found roosting on a grass stem by the trap.

September Thorn

Next was this noctuid, which took a little while to identify, but is actually a quite straightforward Six-striped Rustic. A subtle moth but quite distinctive.

Six-striped Rustic

I also had two Lesser Yellow Underwings, which were my first records. This tortix also caught my eye. It seems a tough ID between Pandemis cerasana and P. heparana, but I think this is the latter.

Pandemis heparana

This very distinctive moth was roosting on the inside of the trap. It had me scratching my head for a while. Was it a very worn Swallow-tailed Moth? It didn't look right, but I could not see any other alternative with those tail projections. A bit more research and I found that it is of course a worn Light Emerald, which has lost its light green colour.

Light Emerald

The other new moth was a Square-spot Rustic, which I found in the grass after I had put the trapping kit away. A reminder to check surrounding vegetation thoroughly.

It was noticable that numbers of footman were down, after the 58 in last weeks trap. I did get this nice comparison of Scarce and Common Footman though.

Common (above) & Scarce Footman

According to the Butterflies and Moths of Shropshire, Scarce Footman is a bit of a rarity in the county. This cannot be true though after the 41 last weekend and another seven today. A bit more investigation is needed to see if this is true, as the book is now quite out of date.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012


I ran my second trapping session at the weekend and got a bumper haul of 150+ moths, about 130 of which I managed to identify, including some really beautiful insects. Lots of new moths, with this Large Emerald a highlight roosting in a conifer by the trap. My list (in no particular order) was:

Large Emerald
New moths for the garden included Scarce Footman, Purple Bar, a Copper Underwing type (probably a normal copper underwing), Yellow-tail and Garden Carpet. I also had this attractive micro moth Carcina quercana, which was easy to identify as it adorns the front cover of the Micro Moth book.

Carcina quercana
Continuing the them of new species, there were five White-line Darts, four Dun-bar and two Dark Arches (including this one, note the pale W). 5

Dark Arches and a Scarce Footman
There were also two Dotted Clay, a Small Phoenix, Small Fan-footed Wave, and this Phycita roborella.

Phycita roborella
The other new species were Marbled BeautyFlounced RusticCommon Wave and Red-barred Tortrix. A successful and enjoyable session, and I only needed help to identify ten of them!

Monday, 6 August 2012

First catch

There was great excitement in Batch Valley last week as my new moth trap was delivered. I have always been interested in moth-trapping but have never had the confidence to take the plunge. However, spurred on by the moths I have seen in Batch Valley over the last few weeks I decided to give it a go. I bought the Eco20 Heath Trap from Paul Batty, which uses an actinic bulb rather than the more powerful mercury vapour. My decision was based on cost, wanting to be sensitive to my neighbours by not having an MV bulb, having a trap I can use off a car battery and having a trap which is going to not get a dauntingly huge catch.

After calling in at my local wildlife book shop to improve my library of moth ID books, a dry forecast saw the trap going out on Saturday night. It was with some excitement when I got up on Sunday morning to see what I had found. I was not disappointed with my haul of 33 moths. Not a huge number, but for an inexperienced moth-er like me this is ideal as it still took me two hours to identify them all (and I still needed some help with a couple of them)!

Early thorn
My list of moths:
Common Footman 9
Drinker 2
Willow Beauty 1
Uncertain 2
Uncertain/Rustic 1
Magpie 1
Scalloped Oak 4
Small-dotted Wave 1
Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing 1
Early Thorn 1
Burnished Brass 1
Double Square Spot/Triple-spotted Clay 1
July Highflyer 2
Red Twin-spot Carpet 1
unidentifed 1
Catoptria pinella 1
Agriphila tristella/selasella 1

Burnished Brass

An enjoyable and challenging session. I caught a couple of my target moths - Early Thorn and Burnished Brass, which are beautiful insects. As the list shows above, identifying moths is difficult for the inexperienced. This is particularly the case when there are worn individuals, and some when down as an either/or. There is also much variation within species, with the two July Highflyers being quite different colours.

July Highflyer

Here's hoping for a dry night next weekend.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

What's in a name?

We all like good-looking wildlife - weird and wonderful creatures that set the pulse racing. However, I am also a fan of weirdly-named wildlife. The creatures that when you look up their name in a book gets you wondering how on earth did they come up with that? When you get the combination of the good looking, and the fantastically named it does not get much better. I was blessed to find four such specimens on my evening walk yesterday. It started when I left the house for a walk up Batch Valley and found this lurking on my front door step.

A bit of investigation tells me that this is the drinker, a moth with a name I can sometimes relate to. But this does not gets its name from being attracted to alcoholic beverages (a light ale perhaps?), but rather the caterpillars apparent liking for drops of dew. If you don't think this is an especially interesting looking creature, then look again at the comb-like antennae. Utterly remarkable.

One thing you may be able to accuse the drinker of is being legless, which is something it has in common with the next creature I discovered.

Slow worms are simply fantastic creatures. A shimmering slither of coppery irridescence, this gorgeous lizard was uncharacteristically out in the open basking on a step. Slow worms don't just look great, they are also fascinating to boot. Being a legless lizard is interesting enough, with an ability to automotize (drop their tail to you and me) when challenged by predators is another incredible adaptation. They are also a gardeners friend for their preference for munching on slugs, which seemed to be out in abundance yesterday evening.

Feeling rather chipper about my slow worm encounter I continued up Batch Valley and soon found one of these wandering across the path.

This may look like a fairly ordinary beetle, but I think all beetles are great-looking things. This has the benefit of having the best name yet - bloody-nosed beetle. It is so-called because of its habitat of producing bright red fluid from its mouth when challenged. This is both a visual deterrant and foul-tasting, so a great predator avoidance strategy. I didn't want a demonstartion of this unusual skill, so I let the beetle go quietly about its business.

On getting back to my garden it was nice to finally see some butterflies taking advantage of the flowers, after a complete absense of them for most of the year. Amongst the meadow browns was this handsome specimen.

Of course this is a red admiral, in my opinion one of our best looking insects. A familiar creature, but why is this called after a naval officer? Well, apparently it isn't. A quick look on google tells me that the name derives from a corruption of the 18th century name of 'red admirable'. I don't know if this is true, but if so this is an insect that has been admired over centuries, and rightly so.