Conditions not conducive to moth trapping session at Ettrick Marshes

Bowden Reservoir - picture perfect on a glorious August afternoon.
Bowden Reservoir - picture perfect on a glorious August afternoon.

As I open my eyes in the morning, I am greeted by the chattering of swallows on the wires outside my bedroom window, reminding me that summer is on the wane.

It is fascinating to watch them preening and limbering up for the long journey ahead and their excited chatter is like that of children before a long awaited holiday.

Before the weather broke at the weekend, late August had been quite dry and warm and eventually encouraged a few butterflies to visit my garden buddleia, but nothing like the numbers of previous years. Other than the usual whites, I did see small tortoiseshell, red admiral, peacock and a solitary comma.

On one of the lovely sunny days last week, a picnic was called for at one of our local beauty spots Cauldshiels Loch near Melrose. Unfortunately, on arriving at the track leading to the lochside car park, we were met by a padlocked gate. It was too far to carry all our picnic paraphernalia, so an alternative was sought. We ended up at Bowden Reservoir, dining with a view of the purple tinged Eildons to die for, from a seat provided by the owners. What a difference!

Last Wednesday, I was invited to help out on a moth trapping session at Ettrick Marshes. As the area is notorious for its midges, which can be on a scale equal to the Highlands, I went fully prepared with nets and repellent. As we set up the light traps around 9pm, they began their assault, but were easily thwarted, obviously not at their best. An hour later, the skies cleared, the temperature dropped dramatically and the mozzies disappeared – likewise the moths! After a lovely warm day, the cold clear conditions were not conducive to a bumper crop, so at midnight we called it a day with little to show for our efforts. Once the blinding lights were extinguished, we could really appreciate the total darkness of the area, with no street lights to detract from the wonder of the starry sky above. Tawny owls screeched and hooted from nearby woodland, adding to the special atmosphere of this unique wild spot.