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Thursday, 15 May 2014

Some daytime moth ramblings

I spent a little time at two sites this afternoon - Mynydd y Garreg (near Kidwelly) and Pembrey Burrows.
The ridge of Mynydd y Garreg has Carboniferous limestone on one side (mostly quarried away) and acidic quartzite on the other. It is the southerly termination of similar ridges at Mynydd Llangyndeyrn and Carmel.
My sub-title was to be `keeping up with the Tordoffs`, but I failed to do so! I was particularly after the pyralid Anania funebris, which George recorded yesterday at Pembrey Forest. Years ago, there used to be much goldenrod at Mynydd y Garreg but - as with Mynydd Llangyndeyrn - it has seemingly died out, so no Anania were seen.
What I did see though, was a grizzled skipper, flying around patches of wild strawberry which grows on an old car park area, that had been covered with limestone chippings, at `Smart`s Quarry` (SN434084). Also seen were green-veined whites, a small copper (my FFY) and two speckled yellow moths; the little and common `tort` Cydia succedana was easily disturbed from gorse (it feeds on the pods - try disturbing some from your local gorse), and two common waves were caught. A teneral broad-bodied chaser dragonfly was spotted over a pond.
Ascending the hillside to the south, (with commanding views over Worm`s Head (Gower), Caldy Island (Pembs) and, in the haze, Lundy Island), I noticed several areas of broom. I`ll be certainly trapping there in late October in the hope of catching a streak moth. I`ve unsuccesfully tried for this species at Wharley Point, Llansteffan once in the past, as broom is common along one section of the path there.At Mynydd y Garreg, I collected some leaf mines on broom leaflets, which unfortunately appear to be the fly Agromyza johannae rather than a moth on `UK Leaf Mines`.

            Above: view inland along Mynydd y Garreg ridge; Mynydd Du is visible in the far distance.

                                          Above: leaf mines and other insect damage on broom.

I then drove down to the southern arm of Pembrey Burrows (the SS49 section). Plenty of small blues were seen, as well as a single small heath and two common blues (all my FFY). Several cinnabars were flushed and a single yellow belle was spotted.
Above: forgive the poor photo, but this yellow belle was quite `flighty` can understand why I prefer the habitat and plant photos!

Speaking of habitat, Simeon Jones and others from Carmarthenshire County Council, and funded/advised by CCW/NRW, have done a really marvellous job with habitat management at Pembrey Burrows- first class and well done! I have n`t properly seen the results of their work for some time, but the sea buckthorn removal, fencing and re-introduction of grazing is bringing dividends in sand dune habitat terms.
I noticed a lot of recolonisation by plants such as kidney vetch (the principal small blue larval food plant) and others too, such as green-winged orchids (spreading really well!) and houndstongue, to give just a few examples.
                    Above: green-winged orchid and, below, houndstongue at Pembrey Burrows.

A new pond has been excavated, augmenting others already in place - great for scarce water plants such as charophytes, and for wetland moths too.

Above: pond with much greater spearwort in foreground, with Iris on far bank....adding to the potential moth assemblage of an already-rich site.
Non-moth invertebrates of interest included the ground-beetle Cicendela maritima and the robberfly Lasiopogon cinctus.

The weather looks a bit `half-and-half` tonight, in terms of cloud cover so I`ll probably just try the home trap* - to try to get some moth photos! It`s good weather for `daytime mothing` though.
*PS....have just switched it on at 10.00pm...we`ll see what the morning brings! 


  1. Great news about the Grizzled Skipper Ian - a new site? As you probably know we (BC Wales) have been carrying out surveys at all Welsh sites over the last few years to get a better idea of its status in Wales. There seem to be only 23 sites with records since 2005, including quite a few in Carms. Many of these, however, are singleton records only, such as yours at North Dock and Cynheidre. We've surveyed these sites a number of times since and not seen any. Whether these were just wanderers, temporary residents, or evidence of very small and hard to detect resident populations is open to speculation.

    On the Anania front, Russel Hobson had 6 at Cwm Soden, Ceredigion, yesterday, which I think are the first county records for ages. So it seems to be having a good year.

  2. I believe it`s a new site George, and may reflect other close-by mini-colonies on the Carb Lst at Mynydd y Garreg. I know of another inland record that may not be in your books - unimproved coalfield pasture NE of Capel Hendre SN615127, 5.6.1984 (EJ Smith)....of course, that site may be destroyed by now.
    The warmth may mean a good trapping night tonight.