Friday, 17 May 2013

Just in time - my Bible returns

Happiness reigns! I have found my Moth Bible - indeed both of them. I have survived for a month or so on using the internet for my (admittedly haphazard) identifications, but although it is very good and the resources provided by fellow-enthusiasts are amazing, I don't think anyone can better Richard Lewington's paintings.  Paul Waring and Mark Townsend's system of classifying is also marvellous and it's just so handy to have similar moths set out on the same, or neighbouring pages.

The moths of Oxfordshire have responded in kind. They are very courteous to a new recorder, coming in modest numbers which I can handle, but offering interesting titbits as we go along. My Chief Sage and Advisor Ben Sale commented on my last post about how poor this season has been so far and that he had yet to find a Prominent in his trap.

Bingo!  They were listening, Ben, because look what came this morning. A Swallow Prominent of truly impressive size and splendour - much bigger than the Lesser SPs which were familiar to me in Leeds. Here it is again, in the classic pose (also chosen by Lewington for his painting of the species), which makes it look like some secret US weapon.

Also in the trap this morning was this pair of male Muslin moths, looking like my great-granny and her sister on their way to get their hair done at Marshall & Snelgrove in Leeds. One puzzle for which I would welcome info: Waring, Townsend and Lewington say nothing about the especially fine pair of yellow breeches on the forelegs of one of these two. And why only on that one? It's an interesting moth in many ways, the Muslin. The men fly at night and the women by day. I wonder when and how often they meet?

Finally, an example of the only moth to prompt an exclamation mark in the generally quiet text of Messrs W, T and L: the Flame Shoulder. The punctuation follows their note that this is a moth which really does have a record of flying into recorders' ears at light traps. Moths probing human ears features prominently in myth and legend, but tis actually very rare. Watch out for this chappy though.


Banished To A Pompous Land said...

I must agree on the value and quality of Richard Lewington's paintings.

I didnt have the Moth bible but he was the illustrator on my old UK Odonata bible and I couldn't have done without his work. I wish there was an equivalent over here. Mind you he would be very busy. Only 30 odd species to deal with over there. There a fair few more this side of the pond.

MartinWainwright said...

Hi there Banished!

Sorry, I'm still a bit slow, what with my birthday on top of our move. Lewington is incredible, isn't he? I read a good article about him and how he works in Atropos which increased my admiration even more.

All warmest