Tuesday 25 June 2024


As I type, it is uncomfortably warm outside. So, time to get something written here before heading out for a walk in the relative cool of evening...

With the first six months of 2024 almost done, it seems appropriate to have some sort of half-time summary.

The less said about birding, the better. Spring migration felt like a non-event, and the sort of weather that offers local seawatching promise never really happened. Admittedly my effort level was poor, but it wasn't like I was missing out on much; direness appeared to be the local norm.

The BTO published its annual Breeding Bird Survey Results, which hinted at why so many springtime outings are unrewarding, migrant-wise. If they ain't coming, we're not going to see them, are we? I'm pleased for Red Kites, I really am, but the ever-shrinking populations of what were formerly regular - even common - migrant species is depressing in the extreme. And though continental overshoots like Hoopoe, Woodchat, Bee-eater and Alpine Swift are always going to provide a moment of thrill, they are just pretty dots of colour on a horribly bleak picture.

Which brings me to moths. Unlike birding, where I have witnessed first-hand several decades-worth of decline, mothing is all shiny and new to me. No doubt long-time moth recorders who have single-site figures going back a while have likewise seen numbers nosedive, and maybe get as moany about moths as I do about birds. For me though, mothing provides a beguiling veneer of apparent wealth over what is, I am sure, a similarly impoverished reality. The sheer number of species, the variety of shapes and sizes... and I have barely scratched the surface. Yes, moths have been a nice distraction.

Another way to momentarily forget that so much of the local countryside is an ecological desert is to take a walk through the meadows at Cogden. I do not know when they were last farmed in any sense beyond light grazing, but the subsequent years have produced a little paradise...

A pastel-pink Pyramidal Orchid, with a couple of regular versions behind, plus a wealth of wildflowers that I cannot name.

A generous helping of Pyramidal Orchids on a bed of lushness.

Last Sunday, and a mint-fresh Marbled White. My first of the year.

Not a scale out of place. Perfection.

And a few pics from other recent visits...

A quartet of Cogden orchids. Clockwise from top left: Bee, Southern(?) Marsh, Pyramidal and Greater Butterfly.

Common Spotted Orchid, I think. Not so common at Cogden or West Bex; this one was at the latter.

Here it is in situ.

The rather exquisite Grass Vetchling.

Grass Vetchling again, with resting Common Blue.

Dark Bush Cricket nymph.

That last photo reminds me to mention another lovely aspect of the Cogden meadows: they are absolutely teeming with life. On Sunday I came across Roesel's Bush Cricket nymphs, countless moths - mostly Crambids but also the Four-spotted Straw Aethes tesserana, which seemingly is a decent record, and assorted others - as well as a good number of newly-emerged Marbled Whites. And when you crouch down for a closer look, an entomological cornucopia.

So, June moths. A couple of new species for the garden...

Lesser Wax Moth Achroia grisella. Only a couple of Bridport Area dots on the Living Record map.

Black-streaked Tortrix Epinotia signatana. Again, not especially common locally.

And of course there have been plenty of other moths of interest. The striking, the quirky, and one or two relatively scarce...

The very gorgeous Sallow Kitten, the only one so far this year. In 2023 we caught two.

The garden's third Large Tabby Aglossa pinguinalis. A local species that seems rather scarce in West Dorset.

The bizarre Dark-dotted Longhorn Nematopogon metaxella. We trapped nine last year, and three so far in 2024.

A pristine Freyer's Pug. We've had a few this year.

Our second Small White Wave, after one last year. Not many records locally, so presumably a moth at low density here.

Italian Bark Moth Metalampra italica, an attractive little micro.

Heart & Club x2 - common but variable

Pied Grey Eudonia delunella - one of the scarcer species in this ubiquitous group of look-alikes.

The pug-sized Small Seraphim. Seemingly not too common in the Bridport area. Our second, following one almost exactly a year ago.

The trap ticks over, but numbers are well down on last June. Still, it's generally worth a punt.

Finally, although I have seen and photographed dolphins a few times off the coast here, this is the first time I have managed a 'completely out of the water' shot...

Common Dolphin, airborne.


  1. The lack of insects in general is alarming Gav. Trying to convince politicians that action is needed is going to be tough. Maybe get them to bet on the results ;o)
    Great pics and the dolphin is a cracker, I bet you've shown that to a few people.