Sunday, 12 June 2016

Moth Event at Tophill Low

This morning I collected Ben at 9.10, and we set off for Tophill Low's moth event.  On the way we encountered a family of at least 5 Stoats "playing" by the side of the road near the final chicken farm before you reach the reserve.  We were too close so I went ahead, turned round and headed back, allowing Ben to hang out the passenger window to take photos and try & avoid the wing-mirror.  The Stoats were less prominent than when we first spotted them, but Ben did manage to get a few head portrait shots.  We couldn't stay, as I didn't want to be late for the moth event, but we'd look out for the Stoats again on the way back, see below.
All Stoat photos (c) 2016 Ben Coneyworth
 Bramble Leaves in the Way!
 Another head portrait
We arrived before time, and waited a few minutes to see if anyone else turned up.   Ten minutes later Martin Hodges turned back the old curtain covering the moth trap, and pulled out the inners of an egg box to reveal a few moths.  Martin identified each moth and explained a little about the species, and revealed secrets of the  regular moffer. This continued until all the moths had been displayed.  One, the Green Silver-lined flew off immediately, but I was able to take its photo with my telephoto lens because it landed high up on the side of the shed.  Some of the others were difficult to photograph in the dark as they shuddered their wings in an attempt to warm up.  The hawk moths were larger than the others, and were rather impressive.  I've managed to remember most of the names, but luckily Barry Warrington was able to identify the final three.
Green Silver-lined
 Poplar Hawk-Moth
 Small Elephant Hawk-Moth (& Ermine)
 Eyed Hawk-Moth
 Record Shot of Eyed Hawk-Moth
 Peppered Moth
 Swallow Prominent
 Silver-Ground Carpet Moth [ID Martin Hodges & Barry Warrington]
 Buff Ermine
 Treble Lines [ID Barry Warrington]
 Flame Shoulder [ID Barry Warrington]
 Setaceous Hebrew Character [ID Barry Warrington]
We went round the south side of the site, and saw nearly 40 species of birds, and 2 female grass snakes on the same pile of hay.  The one pictured looks as though she will be sloughing her skin soon. 
Female Grass Snake
On the return journey the Stoat family was playing merrily in the road, so I was able to pull up and Ben took some more photos.
 Closer view of 3
 Focussing on 2
 3 again
 Damp in the Grass
 A Fine Welcome

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