Monday, 20 September 2021

Still unequalled

My greatest source of pleasure and wonder in 16 years of recording moths has been the recent , storming advance of the Clifden Nonpareil, once an extreme rarity which I dreamed of seeing without any realistic hope of doing so.

In the last three years I have been visited by more than a score of these huge and beautiful creatures and on Saturday night they lived up to their reputation again. Reports of local sightings have featured on the Upper Thames Moths blog for some weeks and I was beginning to wonder if the moths had tired of Thrupp and, like an army invading much faster than it expected to, moved on.  Not so. There were three in the trap, another record.

I was alerted to the year's first Nonpareil Night when I went out earlier than usual, at about 6.15am when it is only just getting life. Something was very restless beneath the trap's transparent cowl and I soon saw the unmistakable stripes of the underwing. I popped a towel over the top of the cowl and went back inside to await better light and make our morning tea.

When I returned an hour later, the moth was happier but still not at ease, so I gently manoeuvred my Bug Bottle under the towel and popped it inside - first pic below. It settled down and I started to look at the eggboxes and immediately came across a second one. 

It was showing its beautifully blue-banded hindwings which is a sign of nervousness, above, so I popped it in the Bug Bottle too and continued examining other, less dramatic arrivals. When I turned over the second  last eggbox, there was Clifden Nonpareil number three and this one, on the left in my top picture and the trio below, was fast asleep.

Since they seemed happy and we had a neighbour and her young daughter visiting in the afternoon, I kept them in a large Tupperware box with the towel on top to keep out most of the light. We duly had a happy moth-on-finger sesh, something which would have been inconceivable here until 2019.

You can read more about the Nonpareil, truly a moth without equal, on previous posts such as this one, or this one.  Meanwhile I had another first this morning: a Comma butterfly slumbering happily on the rim of the trap's black plastic bowl. If you wanted to know why the species is called the Comma, look no further.


Conehead54 said...

I'm envious Martin- I'm still yet to see one of these beauties!

Martin Wainwright said...

Your turn will come! People keep announcing their debuts on Upper Thames Moths and it's rising up the charts in Hants Moths' 'Flying Tonight'

They are just so wondrous, specially as I nevfer imagined I would ever see one.

Maybe the Oleander Hawk will visit me one day...

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