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Thursday, 29 August 2013

Keeping up with the Ridleys! (28.8.13)

After a week away from moths, the addiction returned and with the car functioning again and a new battery for one of my traps, I trapped at home and at Pembrey Burrows. The home actinic had a good range of seasonal moths (but no sallows or dusky thorns yet!), with 4x four-spotted footmen (all males, photo below) perhaps being the pick of the regulars; there were c 20 silver y`s in the trap too, but no other migrants. The best moth though, was a whopping huge (compared to its pyralid relatives) Dioryctia sylvestrella, a new colonist to the British Isles, having been first noted in Dorset in 2001. Jon Baker had it, then new to Carmarthenshire (and Wales), in Pembrey Forest in early July 2006. It is possible that mine originated from pine woodland on the slopes near Moreb, above my house at Pwll, Llanelli. A photo of this pyralid is shown below.

At Pembrey Burrows I trapped at two sites, one in SS49 on the southern arm of dunes and a photo of the general habitat (young dunes) hereabouts with the distant Worm`s Head, Gower in the dusk is shown below.

There were just modest numbers of moths in this trap but they included the little pyralid Anerastia lotella with its white-edged forewings (see photos below); oblique striped (just one on the outside of the trap); Archer`s darts (several ) and, best of all, a rather worn tissue moth (hence the `keeping up with the Ridleys` title - to be explained!).

I would suggest that the tissue is a rare Carmarthenshire moth, rather than the `extremely scarce and under-recorded` status provisionally given to it by Jon Baker in his superb report for 2006. It is rare in our county as the food plants purging buckthorn and alder buckthorn are themselves at best extremely scarce and localised. The former shrub is confined to the limestone ridge, where it is very rare (the biggest stand in the county was needlessly cut down at Carmel Woods (near Garn farm) when inadequately-advised management was carried out). Alder buckthorn is slightly less rare but extremely scattered, though there have been plantings in recent years, particularly around Llanelli to encourage brimstone butterflies, which also feed on it and it would be worth including both species in future sunny woodland edge or urban plantings. Of course, both these buckthorns are not to be confused with the dissimilar sea buckthorn, which is an invasive nuisance on the dunes at Pembrey and elsewhere.
In recent years, Mat Ridley has been recording the tissue (mostly as hibernating adults in caves) near his home at Carmel; indeed he has had a bit of a monopoly on this rare moth! There is also another record dating from 1995 by Steve Lucas from Tregyb Woods, if I remember correctly. 
The other Pembrey trap was placed in SN40, alongside the coastal path, but hidden from that path (and people) below a slope next to the upper saltmarsh: a dawn photo of the site is given below.

Here, as at the `Pembrey South` trap, there were strangely no silver y`s (as there were plenty at Pwll) though there was one migrant - a solitary dark sword grass. Other moths of interest included a yellow belle (photo above) and my first large wainscot of the season.         


  1. Well done on many counts, Ian. Much better than I've managed here recently!

  2. A good Tissue record Ian!! (I shall have to try harder to catch some rare coastal species up here....). As I think you have suggested before the Tissue could be elsewhere on the limestone ridge. Both buckthorns have been included in quite a few new woodland plantings across the County (including 100 or so at the Botanic Gdn last winter) so it's possible it could begin to turn up elsewhere. Coincidentally, I was scrambling about on the cliffs at the back of largest Garn quarry a couple of weeks ago (as one does) and came across a couple of large buckthorn bushes. I hesitate to say 'discovered' as I think I now remember them from many years ago, but had forgotten... they could well be noted on one of the Carmel Woods surveys too? I mean to take some photos and will blog about them, but perhaps when I have done a winter hibernation count in the nearby cave on the side of the quarry (we need to something to blog about in the winter). While I'm on the subject Ian could you let me have as accurate a grid ref as you can for the felled buckthorn - I'll check if it might be coppicing.

  3. Thanks Sam and Mat. Will discuss Garn buckthorn with you....we can visit the site to mark it up sometime.
    Note that I`ve changed the 1995 tissue record location in main text above....I remembered in work today! It was recorded (I think!) by Steve Lucas at Tregyb Woods, Llandeilo.