Sunday, 15 July 2018

Six of the Best

Skye seems to have suffered a distinct lack of microlepidoptera recorders in the past, though perhaps it's pertinent to mention that the recently retired County Moth Recorder was apparently notoriously reluctant to do anything with them. Thankfully, Keith Sadler (the new CMR) is grudgingly happy to adjudicate any micro records thrown in his direction and isn't shy about hassling Mark Young (Scottish National Recorder) with images of any species that are potentially 'firsts' for VC104. I should also make special mention of Nigel Richards who is quite clearly something of an authority on moth ID and spends an inordinate amount of his time correcting or confirming many of the trickier images on the Skye Moths FB page. We'd probably be bungling IDs all over the place but for Nigel.  

I've had a decent run of 'firsts' for VC104, starting with this from the back garden in July 2017

Mompha propinquella swept from an overgrown area at the bottom of the garden - nice!
It's a crappy pic of a very pretty little moth, happily it was just about clear enough for species confirmation. Accepted by Keith Sadler (CMR) as new for Skye, though I think Lysana down in Armadale later submitted a record which pre-dated mine. 

This year I'm on a definite roll. It all began in March when mothman extraordinaire and good friend Tony Davis came to visit. We were splodging our way through a nearby Sphagnum bog when he casually asked if the overwintered Cottongrass seedheads were the work of Glyphipterix haworthana. Doh, talk about over-looking the obvious! We each took several seedheads away with us and sure enough found the fat larvae within. Credit where it's due, this one belongs to Tony. Confirmed and accepted as new to VC104 by Mark Young after Keith had forwarded the images. 

Cottongrass seedhead - the larva binds it together with silk which stops it falling apart over winter
Glyphipterix haworthana larva within the seedhead - new to VC104
April was relatively quiet, no more 'firsts', but things improved in May with a nice double-whammy whist day-tripping Raasay

Pyrausta ostrinalis - pretty much the very first moth I netted on a Skye Nature Group outing to Raasay
Udea decrepitalis - quite common at The Fearns on Raasay
Both of these moths were new to VC104, I'm pretty sure that's the first time I've ever managed two firsts for county in a single outing! Both were confirmed by Mark Young after Keith Sadler forwarded the images. 

June was also productive with two more 'firsts' being found. First up was Mompha locupletella which I photographed on 19th June as it walked over a leaf in Uig Wood

Mompha locupletella - confirmed by Mark Young just a few days ago - new to VC104
Less than a week later I had this well-marked Tort to the light trap. It was actually sat on the lid, I was lucky it didn't fly away before I could take a pic!

Epinotia tedella - the white palps being one of the features to rule out lookalikes
Epinotia tedella was subsequently confirmed by Mark Young and is officially on the VC104 list. 

So now we're into July and no 'firsts' yet. Though there's this one moth from yesterday's trapping session.....

I figured this was an Eucosma, possibly E.hohenwartiana. I occasionally get E.cana in the trap, but this seems a bit different, darker maybe. I whacked it up on the Skye Moths FB group and Nigel commented that he initially thought E.hohenwartiana too, but then realised that the scales on the wings were abraded and thus he couldn't conclusively rule out the very similar E.cana (main difference is scale colouration in the centre of the wings - which are missing on this specimen). If it IS hohenwartiana it'll be new for VC104. 

Luckily I've retained the specimen, Tony Davis is coming back up in a fortnight's time (and I happen to know that gen detting other folk's moths is his absolute favourite pastime, haha!!!) I may do as Nigel suggested and ask him to have a squint. I have absolutely no idea how Nigel knew that Tony was visiting, maybe he possesses superpowers other than shit hot moth ID skills...

Edit - it transpires that E.hohenwartiana has now been split into two near-identical species, the sole known difference being in the form of the female genitalia. Cripes! 

I'm not at all into the football, but it's been the world cup and this afternoon it was the final. I watched a few games (Belgium and Croatia have both really impressed me) but I'm hardly a convert. As it happens I lost a tenner seeing as I'd picked England to win it. The Romanian KP is quids in this evening. He doesn't follow football either, but I notice he seemed quite cheery when he heard that his team had won (spoiler alert - France beat Croatia 4-2, thanks to some great diving, shitty refereeing and bad luck on Croatia's part). Anyway, the opening line of this classic tune seemed appropriate

In truth, the only place to see the footie on big screen was in the pub down at the pier, it wasn't showing here (far too civilised for that..) I had a couple of lads ask me where they could see it, I said the pub, they replied they'd been there but couldn't even get through the door it was so crammed!!! I saw most of the second half, Croatia deserved the win. 


  1. I haven't read this blog yet but that's my favourite Rory Gallagher song by ... erm .. a million miles. I saw him play once and I'm still peed off that I somehow lost the tour t-shirt I got that night.

  2. Ali! You're alive! I lost an Iron Maiden t-shirt once, then (five years later!) saw Martin Cade lump a box of burnables towards the bonfire at Portland Bird Obs. Top of the box was my lost Iron Maiden t-shirt. He said it'd been kicking around for years, clearly I left it under a bunk. So pleased to be reunited, I still wear it at least once a week!!! :)

    1. Birds are creeping up on my consciousness again. After a week of Cory's Shears and Woodchat Shrikes I'm thinking the vismig hat is about to get pulled out of the cupboard. Waders are back in the bay and I need Tree Pipit and Sand Martin!