Last week, I was lucky enough to attend a training course on Butterflies and Moths. I was to be staying at Malham Tarn, a centre run by Field Studies Council. The trainer was David Brown, who is the County Recorder for butterflies and moths in Warickshire. David was extremely knowledgeable, knowing exactly where to take us to see the butterflies and also, knowing every moth that had been caught in the moth trap each morning. Each day started with the 5 moth traps, distributed in various habitats around the centre grounds.
I have never done a moth trap before and was stunned by the amount of moths and how striking a lot of them were. We totalled 65 different moth species over the 4 days of trapping, all were released carefully into the vegetation so as not to fly straight into the beaks of local birdlife! My personal favourite, was the Antler Moth. They were in the traps every morning, but I never got fed up of them.
For the rest of the day, once the moths had been logged, we went on field trips to places David knew would (hopefully) be full of butterflies. We had a few target species, Scotch Argus, which are at their southern limit here in Yorkshire, High Brown and Silver Washed Fritillaries and possibly the Northern Brown Argus. I have never seen High Brown Fritillary, Scotch Argus or Northern Brown Argus, so I am crossing my fingers for all 4!
The first site we visit is Arnside Knott, a known haunt of the Scotch Argus, the weather is a bit overcast and looking frankly, not great for butterflies. We climb up the side of a hill, keeping our eyes peeled all the way. On the way up, we see, Grayling, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown and Green Veined White, not bad!
Almost at the top of the hill, in a small clearing, the sun came out and so did the Scotch Argus! We see around 6 in all
Target species for day 2, were the fritillaries, we had the potential of seeing 3 species of fritillary at the same site, Grassington Wood. This was however, David told us, very unusual indeed. On entering the clearing, the sun again came out! We saw all 3 fritillaries! High Brown Fritillary, another first for me! I didn’t manage a photo of these though, battery died.
Day three was Meathop Moss, target species, the Manchester Treble Bar Moth. This was our first fail, no Treble Bar, but we did see a fantastic Emperor Moth Caterpillar, so not a total disaster!
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