It's that time again. And by "that time", I'm not sure if I mean the July birding doldrums or back living in London. Either way, most of my recent contact with wildlife has come in the form of moths. Some of them very nice, actually.
The other week I was up at The Nunnery in Thetford, the BTO's HQ. A group of us joined some of the research staff for an evening of (attempted) Nightjar ringing. We saw plenty, and there was quite a bit of activity early in the evening, but windy conditions meant we didn't manage to catch any.
The first Common Glow-worms of the season were out. I had never realised that it is the female that glows. She uses the light to attract males, which can fly but which don't glow.
The same night, we set a moth trap at The Nunnery. In the morning it was heaving with moths: hundreds of moths of over forty species. Highlights – i.e. the pretty ones – included Burnished Brass, Scarce Silver-lined (below left) and Small Elephant Hawk-moth (below right).
Closer to home, we've been running a moth trap on the roof of the office in Acton. It has caught a surprisingly variety of species, including a migrant Red-necked Footman.
More exciting – at least from an entomology point of view – are a colony of Clepsis dumicolana that we've discovered breeding on the ivy at the office front door. They're one of only three known colonies in the UK and were probably imported – and then overlooked for years – on the plant. There are more details on the NatureGuides blog.
nteresting moths haven't been confined just to the office. Back at home, this Bordered Straw came fluttering in through the kitchen late one evening. It's a migrant from the continent, and a very attractive moth too.
Of course I've been up to plenty of other stuff in London, including visiting some of the museums. I'm going to say something that may get me shot: the Natural History Museum is, in my opinion, one of the most boring museums around. The content is, well, dated and disappointing. And as for the plastic T. rex...
One of the relative highlights for me was the leaf-cutter ant colony. Not this summer :(
At least the building is magnificent, and this photo of the central hall is one of my favourites that I've taken over the past few weeks.
I'll go my best to get out into the field a bit more over the autumn otherwise I run the risk of becoming one of these "desk-bound ornithologists".