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Monday, 27 March 2017

Orange underwing.

Over the weekend, I had an email from Rosemary Royle of Pembrokeshire, asking me to suggest a good site not to far from Cross Hands (which she had to visit) where there was a good chance of seeing an orange underwing. I recommended Mynydd Mawr Woodland Park, Tumble, which was not only close to Cross Hands and had much young birch scrub, but where there also had been a series of sightings in recent years.
Today, I visited the same site, arriving at about 1.00pm or so. I walked a route along the sheltered south-facing plantation edge where much birch of various ages thrives, as well as on several acres up-slope.
Carefully looking as I walked, and searching locations where I`d seen them before, none were to be seen. Returning to the car, I noticed two people looking with binoculars at birch tops and approaching them it transpired it was Rosemary and her husband. I`d assumed that they`d visited a day earlier on Sunday (a better, warmer day).
I told them of my lack of success, advised them further and left to return to the car. Again, even though I was looking carefully, I failed to see any orange underwings. As I approached the end of the birchy wood edge, I remembered that there was one clump of birch trees where I`d had orange underwings on previous occasions after similar lack of success. Well, I did n`t see one there but I did have a sighting just before that location, when one flew quite low down to visit willow flowers (at c 10ft), giving me about 30 seconds` worth of `good views` and enabling me to view the wing colouration against a dark background (often the moth is just a silhouette against a blue sky). It then flew off, at some height (c 20ft) across a wide space to some birch trees upslope.
I quickly returned to Rosemary to tell her about my sighting and left again to go home - I hope that she eventually saw one!

Above: the orange underwing was on the barely-flowering (and hardly discernable in the photo) Salix cinerea on the right-hand edge of the photo.

I also saw a female brimstone butterfly in the garden at Pwll this morning, and a comma and a peacock were seen whilst searching for orange underwings.


  1. Yes, I'm glad to say we did see one - about 1/2 hour after talking to Ian. Good views too - perched about 9ft up in a small tree right by the open area in which we were standing. I am very grateful to Ian for his help in this. The next challenge it to find one in Pembs!

  2. I`m glad that you succeeded Rosemary. They can be exasperating moths, demanding patience, but the useful pointers of checking sallow flowers as well as perhaps disturbing birch scrub by walking through it, are useful tools. The weather was imperfect today (with a vague haze) but on optimum days of sunny and warm late March/very early April sunshine, one can `score` with orange underwings. One day - perhaps! - I`ll actually catch one for a photograph!