It's childish I know - or perhaps we could settle more kindly on 'child-like', but I still get a kick out of finding unusual moths in the trap. This is a pretty infrequent experience and now that we have been here for five summers, it's a surprise to find anything which hasn't called at least once before. But that was my experience yesterday morning, after the last of National Moth Nights' three nights.
The visitor was a White-speck, an immigrant species which makes landfall in the UK every autumn but only seldom this far inland. Martin Townsend, the co-author of the Moth Bible and an unfailingly helpful mainstay of the Upper Thames Moths blog, says that there have only been a few records for Oxfordshire. Now mine joins them, huzza!
It nearly didn't, firstly because I turned the moth's eggbox over clumsily after examining the other side and nearly dislodged the un-noticed White-speck in the process. And secondly, because I initially took it to be one of the less common wainscots. Luckily, there was something about its shape and the beady, eponymous white speck, which kept me searching through the Bible.
|White-speck Land |
- the Isles of Scilly
Why a White-speck now? It is one of an army of immigrant moths swept north from the Continent on warm winds caught up in the train of the remains of Hurricane Ophelia. White-specks usually head for Devon and Cornwall and have even established breeding colonies in the far south west, including the Isles of Scilly. On your guard, daffodil-growers!
|This morning's forecast for Hurricane Ophelia from the BBC's website. You'll have to imagine the moths getting hauled north to the right of the orange track|
Back on National Moth Night, I was visited by another attractive immigrant and one which has settled here bigtime, Blair's Shoulder-knot, above, one of three UK moths which carry the name of a retired entomologist from the Natural History Museum, Dr Blair, who lived on the Isle of Wight where many species new to the UK first make landfall as the Shoulder-knot did in 1951. It shares the sleekness of the White-speck but has a rather more handsome, Tweedy appearance. It also has a look of the Pinion moths and Dr Blair modestly suggested initially that it should be given the agreeable name of Stone Pinion. But others disagreed and wanted him honoured for his tireless discoveries and so the moth joined the much rarer Blair's Mocha and Blair's Wainscot.
|And its Yellow-line cousin. Update: Paul in Comments suggests that this is a Brick and I am sure that he is right. Many thanks again P.|
Here are the other arrivals on Saturday/Sunday night:
9 Lunar Underwings
8 Beaded Chestnuts
7 Setaceous Hebrew Characters
4 Large Yellow Underwings
3 Black Rustics
2 Straw Dots
And one each of Sallow, Barred Sallow, Square-spot Rustic, Autumnal Rustic, Centre-barred Sallow, Lesser Yellow Underwing, Red-line Quaker, Yellow-line Quaker and the micro Brown Plume, Stenoptilia pterodactyla, below.