Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Woolly but wet

I was up on the moors above Hebden Bridge yesterday on Guardian business, the wild summits where few apart from ramblers and grouse-shooters roam; plus a surprising large variety of wild life which you have to keep a beady out for in the superficially lifeless landscape of peat, heather and bog.

I think I have a 'caterpillar eye,' because I spotted this chap straight away, much as I did the Fox Moth ones up in the Lake District four years ago which I described in this post here. The two are very similar but Tim Melling of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, who was with me on the moors, said straight away that this one is a Northern Eggar, the regional equivalent of the more famous Oak Eggar.

He also told me that the origin of 'Eggar' is the egg-shaped cocoon which the caterpillar weaves when it is ready to pupate. That time will come soon, and although the weather was lovely yesterday, I would get on with pupating if I was a Northern Eggar caterpillar. Late autumn weather can be absolutely foul up there.

My Penny Wainwright pen scale deliberately advertises the very excellent York accountants who do the business for the Morrell Trust, of which I am a trustee. I always take a bunch from meetings with the enthusiastic approval of the trust secretary Charles Walker, who sensibly says that they're more useful for the firm out in the world than stored in office drawers. This particular one is having quite some outing, both on the roof of Yorkshire and now on the world wide web.

Update: my long-standing photographer friend Asadour Guzelian who was also with us on the moors has kindly emailed me his pic of the cattie too, and here it is. Another outing for the ad-pen, and you can see all of it in his photo too:

Further Update: all may not be what it seems. Is this a Fox caterpillar after all? See comments.

Even further Update:  Yes it is. See further comment. Isn't this exciting (though I think that's it)?


R Homan said...

Hello Martin

I wouldn't want to cross swords from someone from the RSPB, but the pictures show Fox Moth caterpillars. Oak/Northern Eggars don't have the wispy grey hairs along their flanks. Northern Eggars spend their 2 winters as small larvae or as pupae and mature Oak Eggars have a central band of silver-grey hairs.

Martin said...

Hi there - that's very interesting and thanks for it. I had trouble with the difference between this and the ones four years ago. Anyway, I'll put it to Tim because, as you'll know if you call here regularly, my judgements are, well, unreliable. Thanks v much and all best, M

MartinWainwright said...

Hello again and many apologies for the delay cos of other commitments. Tim has come back to me and says:

I had a quick check when I got home and I disagreed with me too. Of course it was Fox Moth, as Northern Eggars have white along the sides. Sincere apologies for that. We saw several more up on the blanket bog.

So thanks again, RH, and also to Tim. I'm sorry it wasn't a Northern Eggar as I've not (knowingly) met one yet. Still time though. All best, M