27 November 2013 - Night Traffic

Winter Moth (Operophtera brumata)
The night-drive back to Shandy Hall is as twisted and contorted as one of Sterne's plotlines. Barn owl, fox, badger and stoat can occasionally be glimpsed disappearing over or through the hedgerows, but the air is virtually moth free now. 
Each night the trap has been set and each morning there has been nothing to be found.  On Wednesday, however, on a sheltered bend near Oulston, there was a flurry of tiny wings in the headlights.  On arrival home the temperature was around 6 degrees. Promising for moths, but again, in the morning nothing.  However, at the kitchen window a moth put in an appearance - the Winter Moth (Operophtera brumata).  The last time this species was spotted was under the same circumstances two years ago but the photographic record was poor due to the electric light distorting the colours. Here, above, is a more accurate version. I have searched the apple tree trunks with a head-torch in search of the wingless female without success. Harvest-men, leopard slugs, wood-lice, earwigs and centipedes in abundance, each species purposely concentrating on its own particular path across the moss and bark.   

Winter Moth illustration

Winter Moth (wingless female illustration)

Scarce Umber (Agriopis aurantiaria)
And then another moth appeared at the window - once again not a new species but a particularly fine example - a Scarce Umber, attracted to the kitchen light but not to the mercury vapour lamp.

Scarce Umber (Agriopis aurantiaria) illustration