This This evening FOAW had a special event – our first ever Moth and Bat watch led by Steve Joul. Steve has led bat watches for FOAW before – the last time 85 people came on it! – but this was the very first time that we combined it with a Moth watch.
We met in the car park of Old Leo’s at 8.10 pm and we had an excellent turn out of about 25 adults and children.
By the time your correspondent arrived, the event was already underway. His neighbour, Paul Morris, a well known ornithologist, and now a keen lepidopterist, brought some (living) specimens he had trapped in his garden, and they were being passed around with great interest.
Steve gave an interesting introduction to the evening and showed us the two moth traps he had brought with him. One was brand new and Steve and assistants had to work out how to put it together! This was the one we used this evening. Basically, a moth trap is an ultra violet light which attracts moths to crawl or fall down a funnel from which they can’t get back out. Steve packed the trap with old egg boxes because moths like to snuggle down in them!
Old Leo’s bar had kindly given us permission to plug the moth trap into their power supply, and as dusk fell, we set off in pursuit of bats, leaving the moth trap switched on and under the care of our treasurer Judith.
Steve had brought plenty of bat detectors with him for us all to share, and we headed off into Crag Lane and the field which used to be the juniors rugby pitch. We did a circuit of that field before heading to the picnic area, and then Stairfoot Lane car park.
It was an enjoyable walk and we had a few sightings and soundings of bats, but they must have been playing away this evening.
After an hour or so of bat hunting, we returned to Old Leo’s to find that Judith was frozen and ready to go home. However, the moth trap was safe and sound.
Steve opened up the moth trap to much excitement and we found a number of moths inside.
There were three specimens of the large yellow underwing, which is one of the most abundant of our larger moths. There were other moths but they flew off before we had the chance to see them – the younger members of our party were very excited to explore what was in the trap!
Overall, we enjoyed a very interesting and fun evening, and we must express our gratitude to Steve for suggesting this event, leading us on it and bringing the moth traps and bat detectors, to Paul Morris for bringing moths for us to see, to Tony at Old Leo’s for letting us plug into Old Leo’s power supply, to Judith for protecting the moth trap, and to all who attended and made the evening a great success.
As a post script, Michael, one of our longstanding Friends, went home and found an exciting caterpillar in his garden. Here is his email and photographs.
Feel free to pass on to Steve. Got home and went down the garden to find this beauty on the rosebay willowherb on my overgrown veg plot. I think it might have to stay overgrown from now on. Won’t be pulling it up this year. To think I nearly cleared it last week!! My first ever hawk moth caterpillar. Elephant Hawk moth I think. Humongous caterpillar. Thank you both for organising tonight.