Monday, 16 January 2017

Cor blimey - a moff!

Just popped up to the laundry shed with Aimée, allegedly to see if the clothes were dry yet, but actually on a mission to look for moths. It's a relatively mild night here right now (9 degrees, feels like 6 and just a light southerly airflow) and there's a very light mizzle going on too. Nice, we simply had to skore. No moths on the white walls beneath the security lights, though Aimée managed to find several Tree Slugs (Lehmannia marginata) and a few flies that I (rather sensibly) declined to pot up. 

Up at the laundry shed I found a long dead Magpie Moth (Abraxas grossulariata) in a cobweb and then spotted a gorgeous Mottled Umber (Erranis defoliaria) sat low on the wall inside the building. I papped a few shots, potted it up and released it on the wall outside. This was the ungainly landing position

Mottled Umber - this is a male. The females are wingless.
So, moffs are finally off the starting blocks this year! Took 'em over two weeks, but always a thrill seeing these midwinter species turning up like silent phantoms out of the cold. Beats me why they fly this time of year as opposed to summer (no predatory bats I guess) but they certainly brighten up a gloomy time of year. 

Mottled Umber is my 231st species of the year for NG3963. I've enrolled in Andy Musgrove's mad 1000 species in a 1km square challenge which may or may not be a clever idea. So far there are only three of us taking part, but I know a few more are lining up getting ready to join the fray. I managed 800 species in 2013 but quit after moving house in July. I have no idea if I can see 1000 species this far north, Surrey woodland seems so much easier by contrast.


  1. I also recorded tree slug and mottled umber in the garden on the 15th - shame they're not in my 1k square! Time to get the headtorch on

    1. Thought you were gonna do 2 squares?!?! :)

  2. Firstly congrats on an excellent blog.
    Secondly I had been thinking for the last few months - too much spare time in the winter - that judging by other list PSL was likely to develop into 'Yearlisting' and 'patchwatching' and your link above seems to confirm this. Not sure I wish to be confined to just a 1k square but last year recorded 1076 species in total. And this without really trying to 're-record' species. I was mostly trying to see new species!
    PSL has certainly got me interested in other groups which is one of the great achievements of the site, heck this afternoon I even ordered a book on Bryophtyes

  3. Many thanks 'Unknown' for your kind words, I don't know that it's a particularly excellent blog but I enjoy writing it and comments like yours are the icing on the cake. Thank you. Having just spent a while at the microscope with various mosses I could have saved you buying that bryophyte book, you can have mine with good wishes! I just cannot get my head around them. Perseverence required. And therapy. Lots of therapy. Happy species-hunting, wherever you choose to look for them.

  4. Just added Amblyptilia acanthadactyla (Beautiful Plume) to the tally here. One on the wall in the laundry shed, found by Aimeé. That shed is doing better than the security lights for attracting moffs!