“Moffin” on the Moors

Another post after ‘moor’ time spent on Crowle Moors ….

Having made sure the ‘lucky wellies’ were packed and with fingers crossed I headed for Crowle Moors for the second time in a week where a group of hardy naturalists set up two pairs of traps in the hope of attracting Haworth’s Minor, an uncommon species, listed in “The Inventory” as being last recorded on Thorne Moors in 1990 and Hatfiield Moors in 1970.  We set up camp strategically based within a ‘light flight’ to the species foodplant, eriophorum spp. i.e. cotton grass.  It is described as a Local species, known from between 100 – 300 10km squares (based on W,T&L, 2003).

As dusk came, so too the nighjars who graced us with their presence.  At least three birds came to ‘investigate’ our lights and a little later there was a considerable amount of churring for about an hour or so until the evening cooled down and when later condensation was found on the trap boxes and perspex wings.  Clearly still vociferous males out partying late into the season.  The latest date for nightjar on the Humberhead peatlands is as far as I’m aware that of a weak flying juvenile bird I logged on Hatfield Moors on 14 September 1997, which is actually the latest date for the county (Yorkshire).

After the thoroughly enjoyable and not totally unexpected interlude, back to the moths ….  July Highflyers in good numbers and Drinkers by the score, a couple of Ruby Tigers and then at five minutes to ten, a small noctuid landed on top of the tripod net, and a sharp eyed ‘moth-er’ realising its potential jumped into action!  Despite a game of dodge ’ems and chasing charlie it was soon captured and yes, we had our target species!

Haworth's Minor 3

It was also an evening of Canary-shouldered Thorns with perhaps thirty visiting the traps, a common enough species but a ‘bright and cheery’ addition to the list.  Good numbers of Lesser Swallow Prominents and a couple of delightful probable second generation Birch Mocha.  Four species of underwings and a similar numbers of pug species, and a different looking, not quite right Purple Clay which actually turned out to be a Barred Chestnut!  The other good find was Angle-striped Sallow, listed in “The Inventory” for Thorne in 1982, so another good ‘tick’ for the evening.  A good reference source in terms of the status of UK moths is Butterfly Conservation’s The State of the UK Larger Moths 2013.  Also recorded were a couple of Chevron, a variable species with colour forms from yellow through to brown.

Chevron 1

So, an excellent evenings work, good company and the data adding to the catalogue which continues to build a picture of the species present on the peatlands.  All this to some special and evocative background ‘music’ of nighjars, long-eared and tawny owls.  Watch this space for ‘moor’ detail and images from the night.

Images by Matt Blissett.

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