I got unnecessarily excited when I first saw this moth in the trap today. Its curious resting posture had me wondering whether it was some strange version of the Burnished Brass. It was only when I came inside and consulted the Moth Bible that I realised that it was an old (albeit infrequent) familiar: the wonderfully-named Coxcomb Prominent.
The word 'coxcomb' may take you back to Shakespeare lessons in school and reading aloud in rote such curious lines as 'Also be you, look you, an ass, a fool and a prating coxcomb' (from Henry V). Although used to describe someone vain and conceited, the word comes from a mediaeval jester's cap which had a strip across the top like the crest of a cockerel.
|Ready for take-off|
The moth's version of this is the pale-coloured quiff on the back of its head. It goes merrily with the curious horn of fur halfway along the back of the folded wings and the fan shape - usually serrated but a little battered in this specimen, which rounds things off. An excellent moth.
Two other attractive moths with very different colouring but similar patterns - the double kidney-like marks and fan of jagged arrowheads at the base of the wings - which are found with many variations in many UK species. This leads to great confusion in the faltering ID section of my brain but I think that these two are a Dark Arches and um, well actually, I shall have to ask the experts at the Upper Thames Moths blog about the second one. Update: I haven't had to bother them because Dave Wilton's latest post on UTM, headed 'The next confusing species', convinces me that this is a Straw Underwing.
Lastly a nice red and black Burying Beetle, an unusual insect in that the males as well as females have a hand in childcare. Both parents dig a little nest - hence their name - and jointly nurture their larvae with regurgitated food.