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Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Check your local birches....

I saw an orange underwing today at Cencoed-uchaf near Llanelli, a regular site for this moth. I`d also gone to this easily-visited locality yesterday in the hope of seeing one, but failed, whereas today I spotted perhaps the year`s `first emerger`, high on a young birch. If the high pressure system persists and the sunny weather continues, it may be worth checking your local birch scrub, once warmer conditions are reached by about midday. The orange underwing (in my experience) peaks in about late March, so it is rather early yet - take binoculars with you, and be patient, to spot the brief flights from birch-top to birch-top.
Some lucky people have seen them on the ground but, apart from an individual that I flushed once at Mynydd Mawr Woodland Park, Tumble (it immediately flew high in the nearest birch), all mine have been on the very tops of the birches or, sometimes, slightly lower down. They will use quite young birches, though (15 ft or so).

Above: the Cencoed-uchaf site - once (to the mid- 1990s) a marsh fritillary colony, but now overgrown; this is one of the more open parts! Note the young birches - habitat for orange underwings.

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