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Wednesday, 9 July 2014

More `moth talk` than moths...

Today was a bit of a `curate`s egg`, a day of little gain for some effort. It was going to be a `mixed bag` anyway, with several target sites to be visited for different reasons. It was a day of moth habitats rather than moths themselves - as reflected in this blog.
The first site visited was Glyn-cywarch (SN649111) near Betws, where Barry Stewart had recorded the pretty pyralid Anania funebris just over a decade ago. I`d heard on the `jungle drums` that this former colliery site had been substantially built upon and when we found it (after some bad navigation by Nigel `Sat-Nav` Stringer), this was indeed the case, with just some remnant areas of brownfield land left. We can safely assume that Anania is no longer there, with just the Carmel gritstone ridge and Pembrey Forest now its only known Carmarthenshire sites (though we can reasonably assume that this golden-rod feeder is elsewhere too).
We then went into Steve Clarke territory - the north-western part of Mynydd Du, as I wanted to visit a fine flushed area that I had n`t visited since the late 1980s - Pant Nant Fforchog (the `hollow of the forked stream`, a name that is topographically `spot on`).

                      Above: `land of the glaucous shears` - the northern slopes of Mynydd Du.
Above: Pant Nant Fforchog, SN692189- lovely flushes with cotton-grass, sundews, bog St John`s wort etc. Does Haworth`s minor occur here, feeding on the cotton-grass? It would be possible to leave an actinic overnight, placed in a hollow and unseen from the road, yet visible to the moths on site. Today, some Catopria margaritella were flushed, but not much else.

After this site we headed approximately west to Carreg Dwfn, viewing Carreg Cennen perched on its limestone outlier. The cliffs doubtless support `good` moths - northern rustic, muslin footman and marbled coronet are likely (if yet unrecorded) inhabitants.

                                         Above: Carreg Cennen from the Palycwrt road.

Carreg Dwfn SN654173, is a hill that I`ve often seen but not properly visited. I had assumed that it was Carboniferous limestone, but immediately we saw that it was acidic gritstone, though the brisk, chilly breeze meant that lepidoptera were in very short supply, with the all-round views the only compensation.

                    Above: on Carreg Dwfn (`the deep rock`) looking back towards Mynydd Du.

Feeling the chill, and with a sense of `moth failure`, it was decided to go somewhere more lowland and warmer, and we visited the old shale tips at Pont y Clerc (Penybanc) SN616114. Tree succession is proceeding with cumulative rapidity at this site (which holds orange underwings in spring) and we had difficulty in finding some remaining areas of flower-rich grassland. There, a pleasing surprise was a small population of marbled whites.

Above: my sole (lousy) photo as compensation for the habitat/landscape shots! One of the marbled whites amongst clovers, and the non-native, upright form of bird`s-foot trefoil (subsp. sativa) that is often used in seed mixes on restored sites. Dependent wildlife does n`t seem to mind this alien sub-species though.

Finally, congratulations to Vaughn on his find of the daytime lunar hornet moth in Glamorgan. I must try to check likely Carmarthenshire sites where its larval borings have been found in cut willows, such as WWT Penclacwydd or the nearby `Llanelli Levels` water vole conservation area at Morfa Berwig. However, it`s a moth that you chance upon rather than search for!


  1. "Land of the glaucous shears" (LOL).

  2. Thanks Ian - it was amazing to see the lunar hornets, though in the interest of fairness i should say that i was sitting in the office when it was found by volunteers but (literally) ran out to see them with my camera when I was informed of them!