Moth Recording from February to April 1999

This year a group of (fool)hardy souls from the SMG (Graham Bull, Neil Sherman, Eric Patrick, Richard Stace and myself) have been recording through the colder months of the year at a few sites in the more southern parts of the county. No sites were visited in January due to poor weather. I have tried to briefly summarise our recording from these sites for the period.

Priestley Wood on 3rd February 1999

A rather cold and breezy night in this ancient wood with only six species recorded including Tortricodes alternella, March Moth, Pale Brindled Beauty and Dotted Border.

Northfield Wood on 27th February 1999

Northfield Wood is a rather ancient wood which has suffered from large-scale replanting with conifers in the past. The site is now owned by the Woodland Trust who are gradually replacing the conifers with mixed woodland. This was another cold night with only five species recorded including Pale Brindled Beauty and Dotted Border again.

Rede Wood on 12th March 1999

A warmer night at this isolated small wood north of Ipswich produced a more respectable species list with 19 species recorded. Several new species for the year included Shoulder Stripe, Twin-spotted Quaker, Engrailed, Oak Beauty, Grey Shoulder-knot, Common Quaker, Clouded Drab, Hebrew Character, Brindled Pug and Caloptilia elongella.

Wolves Wood on 16th March 1999

This was a warm night following a series of cold nights and turned out to be the night of the Small Quaker. We estimated that over 500 individuals turned up to the two lights that we were running, with the sheet looking as full of moths as it during the height of summer. We had a similar deluge of Small Quakers here at around this time last year. In all 20 species were recorded with the highlights being; Lead-coloured Drab, Twin-spotted Quaker (approximately 20 individuals), Oak Beauty, Small Brindled Beauty, Yellow Horned and Shoulder Stripe.

Priestley Wood on 26th March 1999

A return to the coldish nights meant that we only recorded 7 species on this night. The only new moth recorded for the year being Early Thorn.

Ipswich Golf Course on 28th March 1999

A windy night which made it feel much cooler than the thermometer told us it was. Activity through the night was quite low with only 11 species being recorded, none of them of particular note. A new species for the site was found on the window of the toilet block – Alucita hexadactyla (Twenty-plume moth).

Minsmere RPSB Reserve on 1st April 1999

This was another windy night although we managed to find shelter in some of the woodland near to the visitors’ car park where the temperature stayed at a reasonable level and the effect of the stiff breeze was reduced. 14 species were recorded with reasonably large numbers (50+) of Diurnea fagella turning up at the lights. A species new to most of us was the Early Tooth-striped which was spotted as we were clearing up the sheet at the end of the night.

Little Blakenham Pit on 4th April 1999

Jan and Arthur Watchman joined us at this SWT reserve north-west of Ipswich. The reserve is an old chalk quarry with associated flora, although the variety of trees present on the site is limited to mainly sycamore. Temperatures were quite high, staying above 12?C, with good cloud cover for the night. 21 species were recorded in all. The highlight of the night was the singleton Blossom Underwing which turned up at one of the lights (see separate article on Blossom Underwings). An early Spectacle also put in an appearance. Neil Sherman also managed to find some Roman snails which are present at the site.

Lower Hollesley Common on 5th April 1999

A colder night than the previous in this area of heathland next to Barthrop’s Folly.
Despite this we recorded 21 species with yet another Blossom Underwing appearing at the sheet. Other species of note which we recorded included; Lunar Marbled Brown, Oak Beauty, Caloptilia betulicola (probably under-recorded), Early Thorn and Frosted Green.

Burgh Churchyard on 7th April 1999

An even colder night with not much activity around the light throughout the evening. Before dark we had beaten the blackthorn scrub on the site and recorded a single Sloe Pug larva. 12 species were recorded in all with the more noteworthy ones being; Streamer, Twin-spotted Quaker and Semioscopis steinkellneriana. S. steinkellneriana is a rather localised oecophorid which as a larva feeds on hawthorn, blackthorn or rowan and was a new moth for us.

Ipswich Golf Course on 9th April 1999

We visited the Neil Sherman’s regular recording site in an effort to add the Blossom Underwing to the site species list. However with 6 lights running we failed to add the moth to the list. We did record 20 species, picking up Early Tooth-striped again along with Narrow-winged Pug, Great Prominent, Frosted Green, Lunar Marbled Brown and Water Carpet.

Northfield Wood on 21st April 1999

A very windy night which seemed to keep the moth numbers down even though we managed to find a reasonably sheltered spot. 13 species were recorded including Swallow Prominent, Water Carpet, Lunar Marbled Brown, Streamer, Pebble Prominent, Lesser Swallow Prominent, V-Pug and Waved Umber.

Wolves Wood on 23rd April 1999

Although reasonably warm the moths did not turn up in great numbers on this night. We managed to record 19 species including Lunar Marbled Brown (again), Streamer, Chinese Character, Swallow Prominent, Water Carpet, Purple Thorn, Seraphim, Shoulder Stripe, Red Twin-spot Carpet and Frosted Green.

Priestley Wood on 25th April 1999

For this visit we stayed on the edge of the wood down by the stream running along the side of the wood. Activity was slow with only 12 species recorded including Waved Umber, Water Carpet, Least Black Arches, Pebble Prominent, Semioscopis steinkellneriana, Streamer and Scalloped Hazel.

Hollesley Meadows on 30th April 1999

A miserable, cold night with refrigerator temperatures! Only 4 moths turned up to the two lights – three Clouded Drabs and a Lunar Marbled Brown. In the long periods of inactivity we took to beating the trees and turned up Syndemis musculana (a tortrix), Incurvaria masculella (a longhorn moth), a female Orange-tip, a Merveille du Jour larva on an oak tree-trunk and several other unidentified larvae.

Tony Prichard
6th May 1999