Friday, 9 December 2016

Annual Moth Count

As light relief from preparing my tax return I tidied up the moth count for the year, working through those that on the first pass earlier in the year I had not identified.   Most of them were micromoths, whose identification is testing and laborious, and there were times when the tax return looked more fun.   The species count for the year was a very modest 98, though I missed the whole of the autumn because the moth trap was trapped behind boxes in the garage, following our house-move.   Also the numbers at our last house were much lower than in previous years, which I am sure is down to tree removal in the surrounding area.  I am hoping to get a regular count throughout the year in 2017.  Around 40% of the moths I have seen in Hook Norton were also present on Skye, 500 miles further north in a quite different habitat.

With it being a mild, around 10°C yesterday evening, winter moths (the 98th species of the year) were everywhere, especially under the oak tree nearby.  Only the males fly.  The females crawl up trees and after mating lay eggs there.   The resulting caterpillars can then damage fruit trees.  I suppose I should protect my recently planted plum trees but with a bit of luck the blue and great tits attracted by the industrial quantities of bird seed that my wife puts out in our bird feeders, might do the job for me.

The hedge in front, which has lots of hawthorn berries, is now a feeding area for migrant fieldfares. (Will Brexit put a stop to bird migration - coming over here, eating our food etc. etc.  It's a disgrace.).  We have counted at least 20 or 30 or so in one cloud, with a few intermingled redwing.    There is a nice piece on thrush migration on the BTO website BTO Thrush Migration; fieldfares are coming from Scandinavia, whilst the redwings come from a slightly larger area of North East Europe but with birds from Iceland also.

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