Newsletter 13: Spring 2008
Chairman's Introduction | Highland Branch News | Pale Brindled Beauty
Moth Recording in East Ross-shire (VC106) - 2007
We have had an interest in moths for several years and were delighted to hear that Butterfly Conservation had been awarded funding to set up the National Moth Recording Scheme but we were very surprised in February this year when we were approached to be the moth recorders for VC106. As with all biological recording in East Ross-shire the main problem is a shortage of people to be recorders rather than a shortage of items to be recorded so we have been trying to improve our identification skills and build up our record base. As we have been the botanical recorders for VC106 for several years we are at least working the same patch for moths and can use the same database.
So far in 2007 we have records for 136 species of macromoth in VC106. Light trapping on a regular basis in two local sites, one in a birch/pine/heath woodland just south of Tain and the other in a garden at Fearn Station gave us records for 110 species with just 35 species occurring in both sites. In the woodland setting the True Lover's Knot, a very attractive little moth, was trapped in the largest numbers followed by the Magpie Moth while in the garden setting the ubiquitous Large Yellow Underwing was most numerous followed by the much more attractive Burnished Brass. The most dramatic visitor to the light trap at the station was a Convolvulus Hawk-moth, a seriously large immigrant moth which is resident in Africa but some of the adults then move north to breed in mainland Europe and some of their offspring then occasionally migrate to Britain but don't breed here.
In view of our new lepidopteran responsibilities we have been looking out more carefully for moths and butterflies while trudging round our huge vice county looking for plants. We have found the small digital cameras extremely useful for taking multiple shots of these small fluttering objects as usually one or two of the pictures are adequate for identification purposes. We managed to identify 44 species of macromoth in the field, eight species as larvae and the rest as adult moths. The Common Heath moth lived up to its name with 11 records in 10 hectads, the next commonest being the Clouded Border. The most dramatic moth we found was a recently emerged male Emperor Moth near Loch Mullardoch. Although this moth is said to be common and we saw the larvae on several occasions we had not seen the adult before and it was very fine indeed.
In relation to butterflies we recorded 16 species in the field the most notable for us being a Pearl-bordered Fritillary at Torr Achilty and several Green Hairstreaks above Little Scatwell.
We are very aware of our lack of expertise in this area and were therefore very grateful to Duncan Davidson and Jeff Waddell who organised a trapping session near Scatwell at the end of March finding the Orange Underwing on the birch trees during the day and several more species in the traps later in the evening. There are two or three other people who send us records for which we are extremely grateful and if anybody else out there is noting moths in East Ross-shire we would greatly appreciate receiving the records on email at email@example.com or by snail-mail at Upper Flat, Station House, Fearn Station, by Tain, IV20 1RR.
Brian and Barbara Ballinger
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