Monday, 15 August 2016

Angling in

It was nice to spend a bit of time this morning with an Angle Shades, one of the most distinctive of UK moths with its swept-back wings and steeply-raked V-shape on either side of its tail. As well as this fine silhouette, the moth has a very subtle mixture of colours on its wings, including delicate pink round the 'eyes' and a very delightful shade of green.

The moth's camouflage is very effective to the extent that it tends to rest openly by day, rather than undercover. Like an umbrella, it has the ability to furl and crease those fine wings which adds to the cunning of its defence against predators - a variety of slightly different ways to break up its mothy shape.

I have always imagined the Angle Shades to be a very nippy flyer, with its jet fighter appearance, and this morning I saw the proof. I coaxed the moth on to my finger where it warmed up over a period of about two minutes. The photographs below were taken well into this process when it was vibrating its wings prior to take off. Then, whoosh! It was up and away. To my alarm, my monitoring robin came streaking in over my shoulder and I thought that that was that. But no. The Angle Shades jinked right, the robin  veered left in confusion and the moth made a safe escape to a bush.

Also in the eggboxes: the Pebble Prominent below and a couple of Common Carpets which I include to show how colouring can differ, depending on the camera angle, background and light-and-shade.

The Brimstone moth is very common at the moment, along with Orange Swifts, and that's not only in the trap. Can you see all three Brimstones in the picture below, resting on a nearby shrub.

Finally, I couldn't resist going for a butterfly hunt in today's blissful sunshine. I got pictures of Common and Holly Blues, a Brimstone, a Meadow Brown and some sort of skipper. But this female Common Blue was the only one, of about 25, to be properly in focus.

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