Lockdown Diary: Friday 31.7.20

Last night, I had a quick look at our ‘big’ pond under torchlight. There were literally dozens of ghostly white Small China-mark moths flying over the surface, presumably looking for females. It was enough to inspire me to get the old moth trap out (or...

Last night, I had a quick look at our ‘big’ pond under torchlight. There were literally dozens of ghostly white Small China-mark moths flying over the surface, presumably looking for females. It was enough to inspire me to get the old moth trap out (or rather one of the moth traps out). Even as I was setting it up, I saw at least one Old Lady flying around the garden! Not a witch, but a sort of large, broad-winged moth which floats about the garden like a very large blackish butterfly and can even be quite un-nerving at night!

As soon as I turned the actinic light on a Vapourer moth appeared. These are day-flyers (but will come to light) which are always males, as the females are flightless and the males seem to spend all day on the wing sniffing them out!

This morning, I processed the moths. Easily the highlight of the 25 or so species was a tree-lichen Beauty, which is a rare immigrant and a new moth for our garden (NFG as we mothers say).

Tree-lichen Beauty, our Peterborough garden, 31.7.20


Arguably, even more exciting than that little moth splashed with green was a huge longhorn beetle on the side of the trap, the like of which I have never seen before. It turns out (after some research) that it is Saperda carcharias aka the Large Poplar Borer, which is a Nationally Notable A species (ie pretty darn scarce and localised).


While I was at the mothing, I also noted all the birds I could see and hear in the garden. The Lesser Whitethroat was again present (and calling a lot, sounding very similar to a Blackcap to my ear). Other highlights included a heard-only Green Woodpecker and a low flying Sparrowhawk.

After work, I went to enjoy the early evening sunshine in the garden. There were three Common Darters on one of our piles of ‘sticks’. But more excitingly, there was a warbler near the drinking pond. It was a Phylloscopus warbler, like yesterday. But this one was bright yellow underneath and (in my opinion) unambiguously a juvenile Willow Warbler (Willows look neat and yellow, while juvenile Chiffchaffs tend to look duller and scruffier).



Large Poplar Borer, our Peterborough garden, 31.7.20


While I was at the mothing, I also noted all the birds I could see and hear in the garden. The Lesser Whitethroat was again present (and calling a lot, sounding very similar to a Blackcap to my ear). Other highlights included a heard-only Green Woodpecker and a low flying Sparrowhawk.

After work, I went to enjoy the early evening sunshine in the garden. There were three Common Darters on one of our piles of ‘sticks’. But more excitingly, there was a warbler near the drinking pond. It was a Phylloscopus warbler, like yesterday. But this one was bright yellow underneath and (in my opinion) unambiguously a juvenile Willow Warbler (Willows look neat and yellow, while juvenile Chiffchaffs tend to look duller and scruffier).

Willow Warbler, our Peterborough garden, 31.7.20