When Henry came back for breakfast and enquired how I was doing I had already got over 100 species and that was without opening any of the traps! Living in the north of the county there is no great expectation of lots of migrants and despite the south-easterly winds that was just as well as despite a smattering of Diamond-backed moths there weren’t any. Waved Black was new for Cholderton and Four-spotted Footman, of which there were 5 including a female, were only recorded here for the first time last year and now seem to be established. Lots of Brussels Lace, Festoon and Magpie as well as singles of Blue-bordered Carpet, Balsam Carpet, Phoenix and Kent Black Arches were the pick of the macros.
I had brought breakfast with me and thought I would be done well before lunch-time but by 1pm I still had one trap to do so I was asked in for lunch – many thanks Henry - actually it was Sarah that cooked so thank you Sarah. It took till 5pm to go through the final trap, to pot everything needed for photography later and to id the micros that I couldn’t do on the spot. The total came to 196 species including the Oak Eggar that flew past me after lunch – the first seen here since 1999. And that didn’t include about ten species that would have needed dissection to id. It was great to see lots of micros too including some scarce things like Aethes dilucidana, Assara terrebrella, Morophaga choragella, Eucosma obumbratana, Parachronistis albiceps, Dichomeris alacella and several Argyresthia and Caloptilia. Wow, what a night – certainly the best species range on one night that I have ever experienced.
I was back on Friday night 22 July for a repeat performance with three Robinson traps again. The temperature went down to 16⁰C that night so it wasn’t quite such a mammoth task in the morning – only 162 species this time excluding the usual unidentifiables. Nice additions not seen during the week were Tinea trinotella, Mecyna flavalis, Acleris kochiella, Spilonota laricana (rare in N Hants), Round-winged Muslin and Juniper Pug. One of the traps was situated near a couple of long-established juniper bushes so this last was not surprising and we do see it every year, but while emptying this trap on this occasion I potted a small tiny plain-looking micro about 3mm long that I didn’t recognise. I nearly didn’t keep it as I thought it looked worn and probably wasn’t going to be identifiable, but I’m glad I did.
On checking with a lens it didn’t look too worn and a check in the book and the internet showed that it was Argyresthia abdominalis. This is a juniper feeder and there appears to be only six previous records of it in Hampshire, the last in 1985. The only other photos of live UK specimens appear to be on the Norfolk Moths website.
I had a look on the junipers to see if I could find any leaf mines on it without success and decided to run just a single MV between the two bushes on the following night. This produced two more so it must be breeding here. Amongst the 112 species there was another Acleris kochiella, 2 Waved Black, 2 Juniper Pug, Sitochroa palealis and Gynnidomorpha luridana. A trip to an area on Salisbury Plain near Bulford just a few metres outside the Cholderton Estate produced yet another Argyresthia abdominalis beaten from a Juniper bush and another as-yet unidentified Syncopacma swept from Birds-foot Trefoil.
A big thank you to Henry Edmunds for letting us run the traps on the Cholderton Estate and all credit to him for the way that it is managed that results in such a huge diversity of Lepidoptera and other wildlife.