Saturday 21 July 2018

Mothing at RSPB Rainham Marshes 20th July 2018

Yesterday started and ended with moths... I arrived early and as I opened up the centre a Red Underwing flounced past me on blousy wings flashing black white and red. This species traditionally roosts up under the building overhang and several can sometimes be found trying their best to cryptically blend into the concrete.

Catocala nupta Red Underwing

This one settled down and stayed put all day until I snuck up on and potted it early evening so that we could show the visitors attending the Late Night Opening and Moth Night.

Catocala nupta Red Underwing

The rest of the day was dull and without the oppressive heat of recent weeks and on the one night that I did not want rain, it looked like it might just happen...

The marsh is now parched with the only visible water being on the rapidly dwindling Aveley Pools and as such this is where the Black-tailed Godwits, Ruff and Little Ringed Plovers were holding out. I occasionally got to see them come up with the gull flock if the Marsh Harriers, young Peregrine of Hobby made a sortie. Both Whimbrel and Curlew came in at high tide and a selection of Yellow-legged Gulls could be picked out in the mercifully flat light on the Kent side.

Two superb Thames barges and a steam boat headed out on the tide and two Sandwich Terns roosted on the Tudor seawall.




Sandwich Terns

As we moved into the evening session it looked like it may be a quiet one especially with the forecast of rain but we persevered and in between our traditional pizza munching we managed to welcome and serve some of our regulars and even persuade them that they wanted to go and have a look at Lev and David’s respective new books that they were signing in a corner and point out the Barn Owl hunting across the marsh while preparing lattes...

With the weather holding the two moth traps were set up in the garden and a superb couple of hours were had with nearly fifty species identified between the two lights.

Mother of Pearl were around in large numbers and could be seen nectaring with Silver Ys in the garden flowers and those who hung around till midnight were treated to three Elephant Hawkmoths, four Jersey Tigers along with various Wainscots, Footman, Eggars, Drinkers, Ermines and Underwings.

Deilephila elpenor  Elephant Hawk-moth

Phragmatobia fuliginosa  Ruby Tiger

Euplagia quadripunctaria  Jersey Tiger

Noctua fimbriata Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing

Noctua fimbriata  Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing

Noctua interjecta  Least Yellow Underwing

Lasiocampa quercus  Oak Eggar

Euthrix potatoria  Drinker

Euthrix potatoria  Drinker

Cilix glaucata   Chinese Character

Eremobia ochroleuca  Dusky Sallow

Ostrinia nubilalis European Corn-borer

Evergestis extimalis

Lacanobia oleracea Bright-line Brown-eye

Eupithecia succenturiata  Bordered Pug
Eupithecia centaureata  Lime-spec Pug

Notodonta ziczac  Pebble Prominent

However it was the rather scarce Dewick’s Plusia (named after an Essex entomologist) that certainly stole the attention of those with some mothing experience and it, along with the superbly named Shark with its grey, almost stripy Mohican were both new to the reserve list.

Macdunnoughia confusa  Dewick's Plusia

Macdunnoughia confusa  Dewick's Plusia

Cucullia umbratica  Shark

Cucullia umbratica  Shark

Two of the tiniest ones were also the most pretty with the pink and gold Oncocera semirubella and opal spotted Catoptria pinella drawing ooos of delight.

Catoptria pinella

Oncocera semirubella

One very happy wasp spent the entire session trying to dismember any moth in its path and a loud whirring was the precursor of a huge Great Silver Diving Beetle crashing into the sheet which gave everyone a start.  It had already lost a couple of leg sections so it was carefully but quickly transported back down to the perimeter ditch!  A Saucer Bug – a water invert that looks like but is not a beetle and is more closely related to Water Boatman – was potted without touching it as they are prone to stabbing you with its razor sharp beak and injecting toxic digestive saliva which is reportedly much more painful than a wasp sting!

Great Silver Diving Beetle

Both Common and Soprano Pipistrelles were picked up around us and Bill Crooks had a good walk around the woodland and approach road and found Noctule, Whiskered and Daubenton’s to add to the list.

We could hear the Barn Owls screeching and Common Sandpipers ‘pee-wee-weed’ overhead in the still air along with Oystercatchers and a few gulls. Fifteen Glow-worms were found on the ramp and car park

The last wildlife encounter of the evening was the False Widows that had come out from their dark corners to loiter in their haphazard webs for the chance of a stray moth attracted to the lights.

We left these ladies to their diligent task and headed for home not long before one in the morning after one of the best evening sessions ever on the reserve.

The full moth list:


Euthrix potatoria 
Lasiocampa quercus 
Oak Eggar


Catocala nupta Red Underwing


Cilix glaucata            Chinese Character


Aplocera plagiata Treble-bar
Camptogramma bilineata bilineata  Yellow Shell
Chiasmia clathrata  
Latticed Heath
Eupithecia centaureata 
Lime-spec Pug
Eupithecia succenturiata 
Bordered Pug
Idaea aversata 
Riband Wave
Scotopteryx chenopodiata  Shaded Broad-bar


Deilephila elpenor  Elephant Hawk-moth


Notodonta ziczac  Pebble Prominent


Eilema complana  Scarce Footman
Eilema griseola 
Dingy Footman
Euplagia quadripunctaria  Jersey Tiger
Phragmatobia fuliginosa  Ruby Tiger


Arenostola phragmitidis  Fen Wainscot
Autographa gamma  Silver Y
Cryphia algae  
Tree-lichen Beauty
Cucullia umbratica 
Eremobia ochroleuca  Dusky Sallow
Lacanobia oleracea Bright-line Brown-eye
Macdunnoughia confusa 
Dewick's Plusia
Mythimna comma  Shoulder-striped Wainscot
Mythimna conigera 
Brown-line Bright-eye
Mythimna pudorina 
Striped Wainscot
Noctua interjecta 
Least Yellow Underwing
Noctua pronuba 
Large Yellow Underwing

Noctua fimbriata Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing
Rivula sericealis  Straw Dot
Xanthia aurago  Barred Sallow


Calamotropha paludella
Cataclysta lemnata 
Small China-mark
Catoptria pinella

Chilo phragmitella
Chrysoteuchia culmella
Donacaula forficella
Evergestis extimalis
Pleuroptya ruralis 
Mother of Pearl
Ostrinia nubilalis European Corn-borer


Agonopetrix alstroemeriana


Endotricha flammealis
Oncocera semirubella


Agapeta hamana
Epiphyas postvittana  Light Brown Apple Moth


Yponomeuta evonymella  Bird-cherry Ermine

No comments:

Post a Comment