Monday, 26 March 2012

The spider and the fly. But not the moth...

Back home at last!

Sorry for the delay in reporting on my exciting foray on the roof of Guardian HQ. It was definitely exciting in terms of topography and views. Less so in terms of moths. My doubts about the sheer amount of light, height, wind and chill were borne out. I trapped a spider and a fly - see below - but nothing else.

That didn't render the whole project pointless. Far from it. Apart from the fun of the escapade, it is always useful to prove a negative. I had to get the PAT-testing done, drive down to London in a car packed with bubblewrap to preserve the lightbulb, and put my excellent colleagues at Guardian HQ to some trouble to organise roof access. But it was nothing like as complicated as Professor E B Ford's ascent beneath an RAF balloon just after the Second World War to look for moths at 1000ft up. He found just three but reckoned that it was worth it, especially if others kept trying high altitude surveys. So maybe I've done my little bit in that regard.

And my colleagues much enjoyed it. Here they are: first administrative mastermind Carla Dowling, above, and then two of her temporary colleagues, Doris Boye and Lianne Byrne, below. The Open Weekend had a really friendly feeling to it, and that was very much down to them and the rest of the cheery, welcoming team.

Now here we are on the roof in the morning with my debating adversary Patrick 'Butterfly' Barker, author of the excellent The Butterfly Isles, and a security colleague of Garth, who took me up to set the trap the night before. In the daylight, Patrick and I realised that what in the dark had seemed to be a strip of gungy soil and some inexplicable rounds of broken concrete were the Guardian's 'green roof' and nesting pyramids for Black Redstarts and other urban birds. Here's another view:

I wonder if anyone is monitoring them. I posted about the trapping not only on our Guardian Northerner blog but also on the paper's Environment one; so maybe my colleagues there will know more about these roof arrangements and their effectiveness or otherwise. Then I high-tailed it back to Leeds, the real home of UK moths, sensible as they are.

You can see the results of last night's trapping here, above - the bulk of over 60 moths, mostly Quakers but including the Early Grey and pug moth (which I'll check up on later - see at bottom) below. And this lovely Herald, left, which was sitting on the outside struts of the lamp and cheered me up mightily, compared with the barren scene which had greeted us in London town the morning before. And now I must go and put the trap out for tonight...

Update before bedtime: it's a Double-striped Pug.


Banished To A Pompous Land said...

Aren't the piles of rubble for repelling boarders? Just goes to prove though Martin, that no good ever comes of venturing into London.

MartinWainwright said...

Hi Banished!

that occurred to me too. Great to lob them off on to marauding readers of the Daily Mail...

all v best as ever


Will come over your way soon, sorry have been v distracted by all these expeditions etc