Recent Moth Trap Results

Last Wednesday (27/02/19) and the Thursday before (21/02/19) we ran some successful moth trapping sessions. During the Thursday session the trap was positioned at the south entrance to millennium wood, and we caught 23 moths of 7 species: 4 Dotted Border (Agriopis marginaria), 9 March Moth (Alsophila aescularia), 3 Pale Brindled Beauty (Apocheima pilosaria), 4 Agonopterix heracliana (a species of micro-moth), 1 Engrailed (Ectropis crepuscularia), 1 Satellite (Eupsilia transversa), and 1 Oak Beauty (Biston strataria).

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Left-to-right top to bottom: March Moth, Pale Brindled Beauty, Agonopterix heracliana, Engrailed, Satelite, Oak Beauty

During the Wednesday session the trap was placed in the south-west corner of weir close, where we caught 21 moths of 5 different species: 11 March Moth (Alsophila aescularia), 6 Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta), 2 Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi), 1 Satellite (Eupsilia transversa), and 1 Pale Brindled Beauty (Apocheima pilosaria). 2 Dotted Border (Agriopis marginaria) were also found in the bus stops the next morning and a Hebrew character (Orthosia gothica) was found at the bus stops the next evening.

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Left-to-right top to bottom: Clouded Drab, Common Quaker, a Common Quaker from a different angle, Hebrew Character

Bird Ringing Demonstrations 2019

Every year the South Notts Ringing Group kindly do some bird ringing demonstrations on the Brackenhurst estate, and this year they ran two sessions for us. Both sessions had good turnouts, with students watching the ringing and recording processes and getting the opportunity to release the ringed birds.

There was a great number and variety of birds caught and ringed across both sessions: Yellowhammers (Emberiza citronella) were one of the main species caught in the mist nets, a species that many students know all too well from their assignments. Blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) and great tits (Parus major) also made up a decent proportion of the catches, but many other species were caught including blackbird (Turdus merula), house sparrow (Passer domesticus), chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs), and reed bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus).

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Great tit
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A reed bunting pair (male on the left, female on the right)

Overall the demonstrations were very successful, and we look forward to organising more bird ringing events for students next year.

ConSoc’s ‘give it a go’ week

This year we took part in the student union’s ‘give it a go’ week, where societies run events that are open to everyone, to give people a taste of the society.

Our first event was coppicing, where we cut back a section of willow trees next to sheepswalk pond. Everyone got involved and enjoyed themselves, producing plenty of willow coppice to be used elsewhere on the site. This event also included the return of the famous ‘consoc kettle’.

Coppicing a wilow tree
A well earned tea break with biscuits and the ConSoc kettle

Our second event was a trip to langford lowfields, mainly in the pursuit of the shorelarks (Eremophila alpestris) that had recently been sighted there. It was extremely windy, and for a long time we thought we’d leave unsuccessful, but as we started to walk back the three shorelarks landed right next to us! We didn’t manage to see any bearded tits or bittern though, so perhaps we’ll have to revisit in the near future.

Searching for the elusive shorelarks
A record shot of one of the shorelarks

Our final event was hedgelaying, another great opportunity to develop practical conservation skills. Just like the coppicing, there was a good turnout and a decent section of hedge was laid.



Overall our ‘give it a go’ week was very successful, and we’ll be sure to get involved again next year.



A summary of our year so far

This year the conservation society has been busy as always. So far, we’ve already continued our involvement with the signal crayfish and grizzled skipper projects, which are run by the Nottinghamshire Biodiversity Action Group (NottsBAG).

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  Catching signal crayfish    Scrub clearance for the grizzled skipper

We’ve also had some great trips: We visited Big Moor, where we got excellent views of the red deer (Cervus elaphus), and we also visited Langford Lowfields to see the bearded tits (Panurus biarmicus). Here we got a few brief glimpses of the tits and managed to see a peregrine (Falco peregrinus). Other notable birding trips include visiting Rufford to see hawfinches (Coccothraustes coccothraustes), going to Nottingham to see waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus), and seeing a large array of birds at Frampton Marsh, including a long billed dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus) and hen harrier (Circus cyaneus).

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       Red deer at Big Moor                  Hawfinch at Rufford

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Waxwing in Nottingham          Goldeneye at Frampton Marsh

This year we’ve also been attending plenty of fascinating talks, including talks on long eared owls, hazel dormice, barn owls, and raptor persecution. We have plenty more of these in the calendar, such as a talk about the Lincolnshire coast.

As usual we’ve continued our moth trapping with plenty of catches so far, including mottled umbers (Erannis defoliaria), December moths (Poecilocampa populi), and a large quantity of winter moths (Operophtera brumata) (see a male with a wingless female below).

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      Male and female winter moths          December Moth

We have a great variety of events happening soon, such as coppicing, hedge laying, birding at Langford Lowfields, and bird ringing demonstrations on campus. We’ll be sure to keep the blog updated with how all of these events turn out!


Searching the Border

In the beginning there was no moths, catching a total of zero moths in the last 3 trapping nights. Fortunately, highly irregular events do occur and tonight was no exception with a total of 3 species from both Geometridae and Noctuidae families. The moth trap was set at the south-eastern corner of millennium wood, but initially the moth trap seemed problematic but easily resolved. The old MV bulb had died, some unique mothing memories where shared with that bulb, nevertheless a replacement bulb marked the start of a new beginning ending the Lepidoptera drought. The night started off redundant with the sign of moths, but the lure of a sheltered woodland became intriguing with the hope of finding moths. It did not take long before we struck moth, the aptly named Early Moth (Theria primaria) with both winged male and wingless female, a great find. The larvae of these moths feed on hawthorn (Cratageous monogyna) and blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) and are locally common in central/southern Britain. The morphological features of this moth are fairly inconspicuous, composed of a background wash of bark brown colouring, with an orbicular spot within the discal cell on either forewing.



Dotted Border
Dotted Border


Another Geometridae appeared, a wonderful moth called Dotted Border (Agriopis marginaria) in the sub Family Ennominae. It’s a beautifully demarcated moth with two central cross lines as well as basal cross lines on the forewing. But this was a novel encounter of a moth’s lifecycle, settled on an ash tree were two dotted borders copulating, an awesome moment! The females of this species are wingless and sculp low down at the base of tree trunks within the crevices and fissures of the bark. A quite contrasting species was found in comparison to the Geometridae species, this was the Satellite (Eupsilia transversa) in the sub Family Cuculliinae. Some individuals of this species hibernate during the colder months, this moth had orange reniform or kidney spot though other individuals can have white spots. The E. transversa adult stage are specifically attracted by sugar but have carnivorous tendencies. No moths where caught in the trap, instead we had to search for them with great success.

Dotted Border copulating
Male and Female Dotted Border

Gloucestershire and Somerset trail

A group of four set off at 05:00 on the 17th of February and following a city pick up of two more we started the journey south. The roads were quiet and we made good timing, with time to stop for breakfast on the way.

Our first stop was at Longford, Gloucestershire, to try and twitch a male Penduline Tit- a rare visitor to the UK- which had been present at the site for some time. We arrived to find a few people with cameras but unfortunately the bird had carried out a magnificent disappearing act despite being seen at first light. There was some consolation as a Stonechat (below) was constantly feeding on the rushes and showing very well. After waiting for a while it was time to move on to our next location; WWT Slimbridge.

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A previous ConSoc committee member is on placement at Slimbridge so we met him there and were able to be given a tour of the site. We started by walking around the bird sanctuary with many exotic species but then went out to the hides which overlook the river Severn estuary. We spent a few hours here and had a look in some different hides. This resulted in some impressive records including; Goshawk, Peregrine Falcon, Common Crane (below), Eurasian White-Fronted Geese, Common Snipe. Other highlight species were; Water Rail, Common Buzzard, Ruff, Redshank and Avocet.

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After this the group split with some going to a campsite while the rest went with another student on placement to her house at RSPB West Sedgemoor, Somerset. After pitching up tents and having a walk around the reserve respectively, we all joined together for a nice and relaxed evening.

We woke up early again on the Sunday morning and it was time to make bacon sandwiches for the morning ahead. Despite the hick up of setting off the smoke alarm, the sandwiches were made and we travelled to RSPB Ham Wall and neighbouring Shapwick Heath NNR where we met up once again. We spent a few hours at the reserves and visited a number of hides, seeing and hearing many species, including; Bittern, Marsh Harrier, Great Egret (below), Kingfisher, Cettis Warbler, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Common Snipe, Treecreeper and large numbers of waterfowl.

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The group then travelled to Westhay Moor reserve via the campsite so that tents could be taken down. Westhay Moor was a fairly small reserve and we only had about an hour and a half here, but this didn’t stop us from seeing some great birds, like further views/sounds of Marsh Harrier, Bittern, Water Rail and Cettis Warbler. We were about to head back to the bus when Mr. President heard the ‘ping’ call of a Bearded Tit (below). We were able to locate the bird feeding low in the reed which was a lovely treat.

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The journey home began but with our luck in we kept an eye out in the fields for any other birds of interest. A few minutes later some Little Egrets were spotted on the left and almost immediately after the excitement really started when a Glossy Ibis (below) was seen feeding in a field next to the road. In the further field was a group of Egrets, where at least two Cattle Egrets could be picked out from the Little Egrets. This was a really cracking end to a good trip.

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We managed to scope out some good reserves and hopefully we will get lucky on the 3rd/4th March and see some more cracking birds!

Looking forward to seeing everyone who has signed up for the trip.

By Owen Beaumont.