Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Deep in the wood

Here are some of the stars of our venture into the depths of Kilburn wood, recorded in the post below. Iain Chambers, my Guardian and BBC colleague, took the pictures, hence the excellent focus. He did some of them one-handed, which filled me and my trembling hands with awe.

The moth which most pleased Terry Box and his colleagues was the Scarce Prominent, above. In fact Terry was so determined to get one for Yorkshire’s county moth recorder Charlie Fletcher that he was going to set one of the eight traps higher up the steep slopes of the Hambledon Hills. Alas, its battery proved defunct; but in the end that didn't matter, as three Scarce Prominents were slumbering peacefully in three of the other traps come morning.

The moth has many interesting sides to it apart from its chunky, Eurofighter shape. One of them, in the words of Messrs Waring and Townsend in my moth Bible, is that it was thought to be very rare indeed "until the advent of portable ultra-violet light traps." Our outing proved that point.

We also found these two delicately-patterned species: the Pine Beauty (left) which I mention in the previous post too, here nestling on what looks like a slice of ham but is in fact my hand. Palmists, get to work... And the Lunar Marbled Brown (below), whose near namesake the Marbled Brown has come to my trap in Leeds, once. Both would be great pattern and colourway models for fashion or fabric designers.

Finally, for now, we found a couple of Brindled Beauties, a lovely moth and a Yorkshire success story; very rare in the county before 1974, it has increased its range and numbers dramatically since. It is notably furry (see head-on view below), like an Alaskan skin trapper setting out on a winter expedition. Maybe that’s some sort of genetic inheritance from its practice of surviving the winter – even one as harsh as 2010-11 – in its pupa or cocoon. That practice is followed by all the moths in this post.

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