Thursday, 1 August 2013

Canary caller, and a moth flasher

I imagine that Mr Pickwick, in Dickens' mind, may have looked like this colourful character which arrived overnight. It's a Canary-shouldered Thorn whose name must have sprung straight into the heads of the 18th century entomologists who Christened it, because it is so accurate.

Its fluff is as Easterlike as that on the ducklings of our white mallard on the canal which I mentioned two days ago; a bright and cheerful sight in the morning among the innumerable Mother of Pearls et al - see picture below. Indeed it inspired me to make boiled eggs for breakfast.

It's yellowness contrasts with the russets and browns of the Early Thorn, a common moth in the trap at the moment, and also outside it. This one, below, was sleeping on a branch of the tree above the trap, undisturbed by the ups and downs caused by morning breezes. Update: sorry, it's a Purple Thorn - many thanks to Charlie Fletcher, outstanding Yorkshire moth expert, who's put me right on this by email.

Another sight which caught my eye in the trap was this strange-looking micro on the right. I feel captioning the first picture 'In a distant galaxy far, far away...' because the pair of moths look like members of the Jedi Council.

Initially I thought that the vertical bits on this tiny insect - shorter than my fingernails are across - were huge antennae, but actually he or she is flashing their underwings. Update: I consulted Charlie Fletcher in Yorkshire - see earlier update above - and he identifies the moth as Batia unitella (Crassa unitella in the Micro Bible), but describes its stance as 'odd'. I'll be back if I learn any more. Further Update: see post for Monday 5 August for an explanation. Thanks to Dave Wilton of Upper Thames Butterfly Conservation.

Here are some more pics plus a couple of other arrivals sleeping among the eggboxes: that curious moth the Chinese Character, contrasting rather pleasantly with my distant pyjamas; and an Acleris holmiana micro, which might also be called 'The moth that even M.Wainwright can identify'.

To end with, one of our many cinnabar caterpillars which I spotted speeding along our garden hose. Did it think it had found the biggest relative of all time?


Countryside Tales said...

Ditto your Canary Thorn- beautiful aren't they? And THOUSANDS of mothers of pearl, various footmen and thorns also, so pretty similar catch all told in Hampshire as Oxfordshire last night.
Would like to see a Chinese Character though.

Martin Wainwright said...

Excellent - and btw thank you vey much for putting me on to the Garden Moth Challenge to which I've just sent a report. Moths seem to be very good everywhere this summer, not surprisingly in view of the weather. A very expert pal in Yorkshire from my Leeds days says they are overwhelmed with them there. All warm wishes, M

Countryside Tales said...

That's so good to hear- positive wildlife news amid a sea of gloom. I do share your sense that things may not be quite as terrible as they are generally made out to be. I also think people can make a huge difference by choosing to grow wildlife friendly plants, leaving a wild patch in garden, not mowing the lawn too short, putting in a small pond etc.

Harald Koht said...

What a surprise to my name in connection with moths.

Martin Wainwright said...

Harald Hi! How are you? We've moved to just outside Oxford and would love to see you again x M & P