Saturday, 13 June 2015

Good Company

On Thursday evening, I met up with Martin Bell, at Gwyl Taf nature reserve, near Edwardsville, in order to run my moth trap for the reserve's biodiversity blitz. It was a non public session, so just Martin and I and the expectation of some interesting characters passing through, as the evening progressed. The weather was almost perfect, the only fly in the ointment being the threat of showers moving up from the west country after midnight.
Two Noctule bats were seen hunting over the Taff, as soon as I arrived, but then we got busy setting up the trap, switching it on at 21:55. It was almost immediately surrounded by a small cloud of tiny dark grey Caddis Flies, but moths soon started arriving too, together with this well marked Caddis with very long antennae, which then spent the rest of the session casually strolling about all over the trap.

Long-horn Caddis Fly (Mystacides longicornis)

We both photographed it and with the help of Google, managed to identify it as Long-horn Caddis Fly (Mystacides longicornis). At about the same time, a large Leopard Slug (Great Grey Slug) began emerging from its lair within a rotting log alongside the trap.

Leapard/Great Grey Slug (about four inches long)

The session went quite well, the only annoyance being something than looked like a Hawk-moth winging it at high speed from the trap. It seemed to come out of it, but I suspect it just made a swoop at it and then made off. I got the impression of green in its colouration, but it would be pointless to speculate.
My rain alarm went off just before 01:00, so I decided we had better start knocking the trap down, as it was likely to take the best part of an hour and it is a real bind if it is raining. The trap was off at 02:05 and we were on our way home by 02:30, when the first hint of rain arrived.
Here are a couple of moths from the session, but there were a number of goodies, including Martin's first Small Elephant Hawk-moth. In all we had 63 species and the temperature didn't drop below 15 C.

Alder Moth

Lobster Moth

As often happens, the best moth is found in the trap right at the end and in this case it came in the shape of a handsome black and white micro moth with a yellow head. Pending final confirmation by the county moth recorder, this is likely to be Triaxomera fulvimitrella, which would have been the first for Glamorgan, but wouldn't you just know it. It turns out that just two days before, someone had photographed one in their garden, not too far away. Someone called Mr M. Bell in fact.

I took a the Triaxomera home for a closer look and also a Coleophora, in the vain hope that I could identify it. I was also running my garden trap for the Garden Moth Scheme that night, so although I got to bed at around three, I was back up at 04:45 to deal with that trap, before the sparrows found it. As often happens, I got a second wind and became quite perky, so after looking at the two micros, I returned to the trap site to release them before my second wind gave out. While there, I photographed this tiny spider and its egg cases, which is called Paidiscura pallens and is fairly common especially under oak leaves, where the tiny white cases show up well, while the pin head size female spider is usually close by.

Paidiscura pallens

I tried to get a photo of the Triaxomera on release, but it wouldn't stay still for a moment and just kept walking all over the log, while I tried to keep up with it and took lots of hopeless photos. This disappointing effort is about the best I managed and although the wings aren't tented as they would be at rest, it you can see what a distinctive thing it is.

Probable Triaxomera fulvimitrella. The larvae eat bracket fungi on oak and beech

On some Germander Speedwell, alongside the track, I came across this micro, called Adela fibulella, the larvae of which eat the developing seeds within the speedwell's seed pods.

Adela fibulella

I also came across this Dock Bug, on of all things, a dock.

Dock Bug

Thanks to Martin for being such good company.

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