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Saturday, 25 April 2015

Lead-coloured Drab mistake (!!)

Yesterday Ian forwarded me a moth photo from Dorian Baverstock's farm in NE Carms that might be a Lead-coloured Drab (more on that in another post, I'd guess).  The species was in my mind, but I think I would still have potted-up this moth that appeared under our outside light at about 10pm last night.  It looked oddly pale for a Clouded Drab, but also wrong for any Quakers, and with a different wing shape (less blunt-tipped and broad than Clouded Drab).  This morning I checked the antennae and was amazed to see how feathery they are.  This is a feature of Lead-coloured Drab, and the wing shape and colour also fit that species, although it's sometimes a bit more distinctly marked (especially with good 'twin-spots').  Ian later suggested it might be a dull-coloured Common Quaker, which also has feathery antennae, so I started worrying.  Dissection has confirmed this to be the case.  Most embarrassing, but I'm keeping this post up on the Blog as it illustrates various things, including: a) the danger of looking out for a species mentioned by someone else and magically finding it in one's trap the next day (though that does sometimes happen); b) why not to get too fixed on one character or one species pair; c) why Jon was rightly cautious of records of Lead-coloured Drab and many other species; and d) that my ID is far from infallible!

There are five records of Lead-coloured Drab in the county dataset, plus several more pended.  I'm pretty sure there's duplication in the records, and it would be useful to have Ian and Barry's views on which date(s) are correct.  I assume the two Penclacwydd records are the same but with different GRs; is there an accurate date?  I also assume the two Techon Marsh records should be one.  RIS's identifier confirmed that they checked the antennae on the 2012 individual, but previous records from there in 2003/04 were pended/rejected.

00/00/1989 Lead-coloured Drab 1 Penclacwydd SS532985 Barry Stewart
00/00/1989 Lead-coloured Drab n/c Penclacwydd WWT, Llwynhendy SS533983 Barry Stewart
04/05/1989 Lead-coloured Drab n/c Techon Marsh, Llwynhendy SS537993 Ian Morgan
05/05/1989 Lead-coloured Drab n/c Techon Marsh, Llwynhendy SS537993 Ian Morgan
24/03/2012 Lead-coloured Drab 1 St Clears: RIS Site 592 SN259176 RIS Staff/Volunteer


  1. It's not really a mistake, though, is it? You simply flagged it up as a possibility worthy of checking. That's what we all do, but those with the most experience get it wrong far less frequently than us lesser mortals - and we usually keep quiet about any misidentification.

  2. What you haven't seen, Steve, is that I initially posted on the Blog early this morning in great excitement, concluding that I had caught a Lead-coloured Drab, and edited the post when a mistake was suggested. It is largely as I wrote initially though, with the final ID tacked on at the end.

  3. Perhaps you have n`t made a mistake Sam! This is a little bit like the scenario when one over-scrutinizes a moth and when certain i/d features are a bit ambiguous and self-doubts arise. Hopefully, we may have a lead-coloured drab....we`ll await (and welcome) comments by others for both your and Dorian`s captures.

  4. I`ve just re-read your blog, Sam - with the updated note on dissection. Well, at least things are confirmed!

  5. A flick through my notebook reveals an entry for Lead-coloured Drab on 06-03-1989, with a question mark, then a tick next to it. So clearly I must have scrutinised said beast and identified it based on the literature available to me at the time (Skinner & MoGBI), but without dissection. I have no problems with the record being questioned and given the status of the species in the county am quite happy for it to be pended. Let's hope a provable one turns up in due course...

  6. NB: a tick in my notebook refers to an identification rather than an additional to a list ;-)

  7. Thanks Barry, It's good to have a precise date for your 1989 record. Perhaps I need to re-pend the species entirely, unless Ian has a specimen for his record.

  8. Given the current experience and subsequent debate, I think that it would be certainly wise to pend my old record too (using the first dated one). My moth collection has long gone, but it did not contain a l-c drab in any case.