Thursday 23 June 2022

Giddy Excitement

On Sunday morning I stepped out into the garden, coffee in hand, and sniffed the weather. It was about 8:15. In just over an hour I would be leading a walk at Mapperton, so really, really didn't want any rain. The sky was overcast, but not too threatening. Unexpectedly, a Red Kite hove into view, quite low, slowly making its way north-ish in very relaxed fashion. Quite unlike the usual garden sightings of Red Kite, where birds are clearly on the move, and usually in high-pressure conditions, this one had a very different vibe. If Red Kite bred locally, this is what I would expect to see them doing. At Mapperton, my group spotted another three Red Kites. Hmmm...interesting...

Birds haven't featured on here for a few posts, so I'll spend one more paragraph getting up to date. A walk to East Bexington last week produced a [presumed] pair of Corn Buntings, the first [probable] breeders I've seen along the coast this year...

Presumed female, with bill full of grasshoppery things - a good sign, I suspect

Definite male, a few feet to the left, in sporadic song

Right, so that's the birdy news out of the way.

I can boast more than four decades of on/off birding experience, and everything that goes with that. I cannot claim to have seen it all, but I have been most kinds of birder. And this current version is comfortably content to potter about locally and see what happens. Very occasionally - very, very occasionally - there are feverish moments of high drama, but the norm is a simple, low-key pleasure in whatever is on offer. Imagine someone walking about with a permanent half-smile - that's me. Long gone are the days of child-like excitement at some new bird, the wide-eyed wonder of a beginner. In fact I had entirely forgotten what that felt like. And then along came moths...

Three weeks ago I had no idea quite how thrilling the blasted things would be. Opening the trap in the morning I feel about ten years old. The anticipation is ridiculous! Honestly, I cannot put it into words without sounding melodramatic. I'm sure it will wear off in time, but meanwhile, please bear with me.

Anyway, the NQS moth list currently stands at 95 species, including 17 micros which mostly go by their scientific name only. And one of the latter - Oxyptilus laetus (Scarce Light Plume) - is by far the rarest moth yet. There have been other definite immigrants - two Bordered Straws - and a few other quality moths in a Dorset context. Hawk-moths spring to mind as an obvious example of how impressive moths can be, and the current tally is seven: 4 Elephant, 2 Small Elephant and 1 Poplar. But actually they have been seriously outdone by some far less well-known beasties. Until this morning, the Scarce Silver-lines featured in a recent post was at number one, but take a look at this...

Salted-caramel confection masquerading as a moth: Buff Arches.

This is a 'common' moth apparently, but when I saw this in the trap my eyes popped out. In real life it is incredible! And can you see the little face on its shoulders? Like a cross between a goat and a teddy bear? What a stunner!

Also this morning...

The Mocha was one of two this morning, and neither was actually in the trap.

A few other recent goodies...

Two Green Pugs alongside their illustration. Size doesn't always matter, it seems.

Our second Bordered Straw, a smart migrant

So that's how things are right now. A lot of giddy excitement at silly moths.



  1. Hi Gavin. I have bad/good* news for you (*delete as applicable). That childish excitement never wears off ... or at least it hasn't for me, now in my 6th year of mothing. My life list is 524ish, but I'm still getting new ones every week! AND, you can do it all with a cuppa in your hand and hot toast nearby! #whatsnottolike