Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Lunar Hornet Moth

I've always been fascinated by moths, and a number of years ago now, I bought myself a light trap for my garden so I could trap and record them. Since then, my effort mothing has varied and I have been a dedicated moth-er, part time moth-er, sometimes moth-er, occasional moth-er, and anywhere in between. I have recorded a fair few species in my garden, but I have never totalled up how many species I have recorded; a job to do over lock-down at some point perhaps!

I've recorded some beautiful moths, including several species of the amazing Hawkmoths, but one of the most stunning moths I have recorded in my garden was a Lunar Hornet Moth in 2018. And I didn't record it via my light trap.

I have blogged about this stunning moth before, but I think it's worth a recap. I went into my garage during the day to get something, and as I walked past my tool bag (funnily enough my tool bag is black and yellow like the Lunar Hornet Moth) out of the corner of my eye I noticed what I thought was at the time a Hornet on it. My first thought was how was I going to get a Hornet off my tool bag, and out of the garage without upsetting it. The plan I came up with was to pick my tool bag up, carry it out of the garage and if the Hornet decided to fly, I would drop the bag and leg it. I know I'm a coward!

As I was walking out of the garage carrying my tool bag with it's black and yellow passenger, I mused on how calm it was, and I looked a litle closer at it. Why I hadn't noticed this before I don't know, but the Hornet had feathered moth antennae! Then came the light-bulb moment, when I realised I was looking at a Hornet Moth, and a Lunar Hornet Moth at that! To say I was chuffed was an under statement, and the rest is history as they say!

It was quiet in my moth trap this morning with just a single Early Grey and two Hebrew Characters. I actually completed a bird survey this morning on a remote farm in Bowland, one of my client's two farms that I do regular bird surveys on. This is the only work I have on at the moment because of the Covid-19 outbreak, and I was very careful to follow the government guidelines and that of my professional body, to make sure that it was possible to do the work safely.

It was very cold up there, and quiet in more ways than one, with just me on 2,500,000 square metres (250 ha) of farmland, and very few birds! I recorded two summer migrants; a Common Sandpiper on the wetland complex and two singing Willow Warblers. Other migrants were a flock of six Redwings, and Lesser Redpolls and Siskins going over in the stratosphere. I had displaying Curlews, Lapwings and Oystercatchers which was nice, and about a dozen Brown Hares was good to record as well. A female Stonechat I think was a first for the site, and two singing Song Thrushes, a pair of Tufted Ducks, a Mute Swan on eggs and two Nuthatches were best of the rest.

It's back in the office again tomorrow, and the only birding I'll do is lockdown garden birding. But my moth trap is on, so maybe there will be something interesting for tomorrow!

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