Autumn Catch-up

It’s been a long time since I updated this blog. This is partly becuase at this time of year I’m always busy at work, but also reflective of the slowing down of nature as the weather cools, the rain returns and days shorten. Everything seems to be winding down and drawing in.

Whilst it’s generally been quiet, one night from the last month stands out however – 15th September, when I joined Paul Butter to set three traps on the cliff tops just West of Lyme Regis. A really warm evening brought plenty of moths, but most remarkably two Clifden Nonpareil.

These are stunning moths, which I’ve been lucky enough to trap twice before. They are so large that they sit covering, fairly completely, one’s palm; and the flat wings make them look almost like cardboard cut-outs on the side of a trap. The stunning blue hindwing stripes look magnificent; a superb moth.

Other than that, numbers have been fairly low, though not unusual for the time of year, with the usual collection of Autumn moths, reflecting the changing garden colours.

As well as these common, if colourful, regulars, there have been one or two nice additions to the year list. This Ypsolopha parenthesella was a new moth for me and a nice little micro.

Ypsolopha parenthesella

Meanwhile a moth new to the garden was this Heath Rustic, one that I’ve caught before on Woodbury Common, but which has never previously made it to the garden:

Heath Rustic

This morning I trapped this Mecyna asinalis which was also a visitor last year, but good to see again as it’s a fairly local, coastal specialist.

Mecyna asinalis

With the Heath Rustic, above, it’s a good example of how well placed I am here in Budleigh with coastal, riparian, suburban and heathland habitat around me.

Beyond this, the moths have been regulars with nothing really unusual. Elsewhere in the garden though, there have been signs of Autumn’s onset. One of my favourites is the annual arrival of the Ivy bees – Colletes hederae. I look out for these every year as the plant comes into flower. On September 14th there was no sign, but on the 15th there they were, dashing about over the ivy that covers several swathes of our walls, and in the hedge up the drive.

Ivy Bee

They are super little bees, busy as anything feeding away, clearly aware of the lateness of their arrival to the garden and perfectly adapted to make use of the ivy flowers – a real specialist. Each year I’m ready to trim back ivy, but I always make a point of delaying it until these little buzzers have had their fill.

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Budleigh Salterton resident; keen birder; moth-er.

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