Moth survey must be done come what may

Despite the frequent snow flurries at the weekend, the garden moth trapping season got underway on Friday night.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 11th March 2016, 9:50 am
One of my visiting long-tailed tits enjoying a feed of suet from a half coconut.
One of my visiting long-tailed tits enjoying a feed of suet from a half coconut.

It’s hard to imagine moths flying around in such conditions and because this particular survey has to be done on a weekly basis from March to November, come what may, I set up the equipment with little hope of success.

Sifting through the cardboard egg boxes inside the trap on Saturday morning, to see if there was anything lurking inside, I thought, as expected, I had drawn a blank, when nestled in a crevice in the last one, I spotted a small brown moth fast asleep.

It was a common one called the chestnut, which is on the wing from September to May and can be seen feeding on sallow blossom in early spring. At least it’s a start.

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I don’t know if other readers have noticed a similar phenomenon recently, but long tailed tits have suddenly started coming to my garden feeders on a daily basis, sometimes just a couple, but usually a group of about six.

They come most often in the morning and just before dark and feed on both peanuts and suet.

One in particular looks very strange. It has no tail whatsoever and looks tiny compared to the rest. At least I’ll be able to recognise it when it comes calling!

The garden is very busy just now, as most of the birds are hungry, simply because their supply of natural food in the wild is becoming scarcer as winter draws to a close.

As well as the usual suspects, a small group of tree sparrows have reappeared after a long absence and the rare marsh tit, I first had before Christmas, has started to come back.

Usually about now, I have several siskins coming to the peanut feeder, but so far none have appeared. Has anyone else noticed a shortage?

While out replenishing the feeders on Saturday, I heard a loud bang in my neighbour’s garden and looked along just in time to see a large female sparrow hawk bouncing off her patio window. It was obviously in hot pursuit of a small bird and failed to see the glass.

It managed to flutter up onto a low fence where it sat for a few minutes, obviously seeing stars, until it eventually recovered and flew away, looking extremely embarrassed.

Despite daily checks, there’s still no news from my garden pond, as I eagerly await the possibility of my first ever frog spawn.

You can e-mail me your local wildlife pictures, comments or queries to [email protected]