Today is full of potential, because the great guru of the Upper Thames Moths blog, Dave Wilton, is coming here to collect a book. His garden in Buckinghamshire has produced marvellous records over recent years, thanks in part to its place in the southern English countryside but more to his patience and expertise in making IDs.
Needless to say, I am hoping to harness this to the remaining mysteries on the blog this season - not too many, I'm glad to say, thanks to the corps of Commentors who are pearls beyond price. There will also be some moths whose tattered condition prevents absolute detection; and indeed there are some species which cannot be decided without magnified examination or even dissection which are scientific steps too far for me.
Meanwhile the trap last night had a decent variety of visitors including another Buff-tip, a standard Peppered moth and a White Ermine providing a cheerfully light note amid the grey and brown inhabitants. A robin was sitting on top of the trap when I went out. I don't think they often venture inside but I did once get a surprise in Leeds when I lifted the lid and a very angry and panicky robin emerged. Initially, I thought I had caught the hawk moth of all time.
Talking of hawk moths, I've posted a picture of a Poplar Hawk which came this morning alongside a Common Swift, just to give a 'little and large' indication of the differing sizes of moths. I know that I am defficient in lending an idea of scale to my photographs and Penny has ticked me off for this. One contributor to the UTM blog includes a ruler in every picture but that is far beyond my powers. I rely on your knowledge of eggboxes to get the general idea - and in today's picture, I hope you can used the side of the box to see the considerable and impressive wingspan of the Poplar Hawk.
I think the Carpet shown is a Common Marbled but that is one of the questions which I will be putting to Dave. Update: it is.
Update: And now the visit has been and gone and was both a pleasure and very useful. To start with, Dave identified the Vine's Rustic, above, in last night's assembly and also commented on the fine colour and patterning of the Small Square Spot below. For once, the fingers in the picture aren't mine. They're Dave's.
I genuinely think that his tuition as we went through the eggboxes will help me with the Nutmeggy, Rustic Shoulder-knotty type of moth. Here's hoping. And he finally cleared up the remaining uncertainties from visitors to the trap so far this year. Very many thanks, Dave. His visit was also enlightened by the unexpected arrival of dog in the garden, followed shortly afterwards by its woman owner in pursuit. The dog was called Punch, so you can guess it's owner's name. She was very interested in the catch and luckily there was the handsome Poplar Hawk to show her (and Punch, who rolled over in excitement).