Saturday 10 June 2023

Moth Book-ends

June had arrived with a cold northeasterly still blowing and weeks of dry weather. Strange times.

I met up with old mate James Lowen to lead a Wildlife Travel tour of Norfolk for a few days. The trip was a great success - more of that later - but my week was book-ended by two fab little moths (with a few crackers in between too!), both thanks to James.

The first moth was this exquisite Yellow-legged Clearwing, which James had caught in his garden. The caterpillars feed on Oak wood apparently. 

Moth traps in the garden at Crostwick and at Weeting Heath (thanks to NWT's James Symonds) added a good number of moths to our trip list, and for me a number of new species, including Fen Crest, Reed Dagger, Reddish Light Arches and Bird's Wing, along with some cracking Breckland specials which I also saw last year, such as Clouded Buff and Lunar Yellow-underwing.

A female Fox Moth (a vixen?!), trapped at Weeting Heath. 


After the trip had finished, James asked me if I wanted to meet Geoff. 

I had heard a lot about him on Twitter and various forums over the past couple of years, so this was an exciting opportunity. I met up with James west of Norwich early on Friday morning, to give it a go . The sun was shining and James felt optimistic about our chances. 

Within a few minutes of arrival at a rather large bramble patch, James' laser eyes latched on to our target and he proudly exclaimed 'there's Geoff!". Sure enough, perched in what can only be described as a jutting, stag-like posture, was a tiny, but macho micromoth, Alabonia geoffrella: 'Geoff'!. 

He glittered in the early morning sun, showing off rediculourly elongated palps, white antenna and very dapper white knee-socks. Black-spangled gun-metal/blue strips bedecked his wings, setting off burnt-orange wingtips with two triangular cream patches. What a corker! 

This tiny jewel is fairly widespread and probably under-recorded. It hasn't been recorded in Yorkshire for several decades, so my quest will be to check out a few bramble patches over the next few weeks and see if I can find Geoff. 

All photos kindly provided by James. Check out his website here, where you can also read his blog and buy his fab books.

*Post script: Geoff was apparently seen in 2022 in South Yorkshire, the first record in the county for 65 years. So, I have been beaten to it, but I will still see if I can find him myself.

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