Sunday, 16 August 2015

GMRG Sand Dunes Night at Kenfig

Apologies for the shamelessly mothy nature of this post.

Last night I joined Dave Gilmore and Mike Powell at Kenfig for an event which became known as Sand Dunes Night, a title given it by Dave. It came about quite suddenly as a result of a post on the GMRG blog and consisted of four small teams of moth-ers, running traps at two sites on the Gower and at Kenfig and Merthyr Mawr. The object was to try and establish whether Portland Moth is still present in Glamorgan, but also an excuse for some light competition and fun.

We ran three traps in the dunes to the north of the pool and had a decent haul of moths, but unfortunately, not the target species. As I can count the number of times I had previously trapped in dunes on the fingers of a vick, I was just as excited at the prospect of seeing sand hill specialists as I was with the chance of Portland Moth and I wasn't disappointed, with four macro moths new to me and a welcome re-acquaintance with a few I hadn't seen for years, such as this Magpie Moth.

I was lying on my side in a Burnet Rose taking this shot, so excuse the quality, please.

From Jake and Mikes trap came this Tawny-speckled Pug and this absolutely stunning White-line Dart, as species new to me.

I haven't seen one of these for years

What a stunning moth

Another moth new to me was Straw Underwing, of which we trapped quite a few.

Straw Underwing, obligingly flashing part of its underwings 

A moth I must have been shown before was Southern Wainscot, but I am indebted to Mike for showing me a very useful field character for this species, which is the 'Tiara' across the 'forehead' of the moth, visible in the head shot below.

Southern Wainscot

Head on, showing the 'tiara' stripe on the front of the thorax.

Other mothy highlights were these:

Bordered Beauty

I was thrilled to see this Latticed Heath

As well as the moths, there were a few other inverts, including this Speckled Bush Cricket.

Speckled Bush Cricket

As I was knocking down one of my traps, I found this beautiful spider clambering about in one of the egg boxes, which I have now been able to identify as one of the 'Candy Stripe' spiders; Enoplognatha Spp; probably E. ovata, but given the sand dune habitat, it is possible that it could have been E. latimana. A lovely thing, whatever it's true identity is.

As you can see, the spider was tiny, compared with my thumb

A striking colour scheme

Rear view
I intended staying on after Mike and Jake had left, but my rain alarm soon started going off, so I packed up in a rush and headed home, on what became a bit of a struggle of a journey, enlivened by the sight of a fox crossing the road at the top of the Aberdare bypass, near Penwaun and another crossing the road by Aberdare train station.

As I compiled this, I saw the sad sight of a Lesser Black-back flying down the valley, towing a carrier bag.


  1. Your photo of the Magpie moth is better than we managed last week when we were down Kenfig - it was off before cameras could be focused!

  2. Cracking moths I especially like the Bordered Beauty.

  3. I was particularly pleased to see that Magpie, as it was the first I'd seen in Glam, since the eighties, when it was then the most common moth attracted by our house lights. The only one I have seen since was near Penzance about 15 years ago.
    I had a Bordered Beauty at Pwll Waun Cynon, the night Phil and Martin joined me, but it turned up after they had gone home.

  4. Thanks for the suggestion, Phil. See the correction in the post.

  5. According to the Arachnid society site, E. oavata is common and widespread and occurs in gardens. It is variable in colour and patern too. Weeding in an overgrown shrub border in Penderyn today, I realised that most of the spiders I was dislodging from the herbage were this species and some of them also had varying amounts of pink and red on them.