Friday, 31 May 2013

Good Housekeeping, Oxfordshire

This shaggy-haired chap with the moth equivalent of torn jeans was a new arrival in the trap last night - a Common Swift, I think. (But I am wrong. It's a Pine Beauty - many thanks to Paul in Comments). Along with the Common White Wave, below, he brings my tally for the first month of trapping at our new home to over 40 species. Both of these moths have to put up with the word 'common', which used to be a terrible put-down in my grandmothers' day, but they are actually very attractive in their different ways. (Indeed, my error rather underlines this point even though the commonality of 'common' now no longer applies. The Pine Beauty is not unlike the Common Swift, at least to my fading eyes).

There's a lot of talk on moth-related websites about the poor numbers so far this year, following a long and dreary winter, and that has been reflected here as I make my first audit. Observe the effects of wet weather on our kitchen: the ceremony of Drying the Eggboxes. 

The decline applies to overall totals, though, rather than the range of moths which have come to the light. I'd been hoping for novelties as part of our move from Leeds and I have not been disappointed.

Here's the full list, with moths new to me in red, and with some pictures of other visitors last night - a White Ermine, a Brimstone, a Clouded Silver and a Bright-line Brown-eye on our rhubarb (like the Common Wave). There was also a Poplar Hawk, an Iron Prominent, a Shoulder Flame and at least a dozen Green Carpets plus one or two other carpets and pugs which fluttered away while I was busy with the two commoners.

Macro-moths: Bright-line Brown-eye, Brimstone, Brindled Pug, Chocolate Tip, Cinnabar, Clouded Border, Clouded Drab, Clouded Silver, Common Quaker, Common White Wave, Early Grey, Early Thorn, Early Tooth-striped, Flame Shoulder, Green Carpet, Hebrew Character, Iron Prominent, Least Black Arches, Lesser Swallow Prominent, Muslin, Nut-tree Tussock, Pale Pinion, Pale ProminentPebble Prominent, Pine Beauty, Poplar Hawk, Powdered Quaker, Red Twin-spot Carpet, Rustic Shoulder-knot, Shuttle-shaped Dart, Small Quaker, Swallow Prominent, Twin-spot Carpet, Twin-spot Quaker, V-pug, Waved Umber, White Ermine, Yellow-barred Brindle.

Micro-moths: Agonopterix arenella,  Diurnea fagella, Large Tabby (Aglossa pinguinalis)

Butterflies: Brimstone, Comma, Green-veined White, Holly Blue, Orange Tip, Peacock, Small Heath, Small Tortoiseshell

And finally, just back to the Common Swift (or rather, Pine Beauty) whose appearance also puts me in mind of that excellent Quaker song The Ballad of George Fox -

In your old leather breeches and your shaggy, shaggy locks
You are pulling down the pillars of the world, George Fox!

You can hear it with Sidney Carter's tune here too, albeit with slightly more anodyne words.  Rock along...


Paul said...


Your Common Swift isn't - it's a Pine Beauty, albeit pretty worn which I suppose is what you'd expect at this time of year - in a "normal" year they'd probably be long gone.


MartinWainwright said...

Oh dear, another blunder...

Many thanks Paul and sorry to all.

I know exactly what happened. I wrongly assumed that Waring, Townsend & Lewington would show the moth from the side rather than above. Thus I spent ages puzzling over two sections like this in the book - one on the Swifts and the other on assorted Gold Spots etc, most of which seem extremely rare. I missed the PB, painted from above and tucked down at the bottom right hand corner of a page.


I think I am learning but you sometimes wonder

all warm wishes and thanks again


Charlotte Davis said...

That White Ermine photo is lovely! So sharp, you can see all the details on the little antennae. Such a pretty moth.

MartinWainwright said...

Hi Charlotte - thanks v much; I'm always pleasantly surprised when the camera outwits my wobbly hands and gets everything clear. The White Ermine is indeed lovely. I hope to see one of the interesting but rare varieties of it which exist, one of these days.

All v bets


Tonia said...

This is cool!