Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Moths and frogs (or not)

We put the moth trap out last night, hoping the steamy weather would bring out a bumper haul. We weren't disappointed this morning when we opened up the lid and it was bursting at the seams. It was so hot though, even at 7 in the morning, the moths were very active and a big swarm of them flew out straight away. Never mind, we still had plenty left to look at!

First we found two scarlet tiger moths outside the box and another one inside. They're lovely moths that often fly by day, with unmistakable black forewings with cream and white blotches and bright red underwings.
Scarlet tiger
We caught our first buff tip of the year. We'll always have a soft spot for these moths, as we caught one last year that laid eggs that we kept until they hatched. Then we put the caterpillars out on the silver birch tree in the garden and watched them as they grew. They're brilliant moths as they look just like a twig!

Buff tip
There were two drinker moths in the trap. They're big hairy moths that hold their wings in an unusual position. They're very lively moths and this one only stayed around long enough for me to get a quick photo before it disappeared into the bushes.
We caught our first elephant hawk moth of the year. A really small one and very battered, but still a bit of a favourite!
Small elephant hawk moth
I thought at first this was an ermine moth, but it's actually a moth called a miller. Very pretty and another one with a hairy head and legs.

There were at least a couple of hundred other moths in the trap, but it was just too hot to count them all and lots had already made a break for it, so I let them all go before they baked!

After school drop off Mum and I went up to Aston Rowant to have another look for frog orchids. The view is breathtaking as you look out over a slope covered in ox-eye daisies, out across the Chilterns.

We spent a lovely morning walking along the path and through the flowers. There were lots of butterflies flying, even though it was very steamy and windy. We saw ringlets, meadow browns, marbled whites and large skippers, but all the blues seem to have disappeared.

A few of the wild flowers from today ...





Wild thyme

As for the orchids ... we saw lots of common spotted orchids, several greater butterfly orchids (that had mostly gone over) and some lovely pyramidal orchids that were just starting to open. We couldn't find any frog orchids though, even though we had a really good look. At least we tried!
Pyramidal orchid
One last thing we found, out in the open on the grassland of Bald Hill, was this large fungus. Looks like a Penny Bun, or at least a bolette of some sort, but it was quite a surprise to find it out there on a scorching hot day.

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