Wivenhoe Watching Wildlife - Batwalk and moths in the Churchyard last night
Thanks to those who were able to come along to the Bat & Moth event last night and this morning.
It was a lovely warm evening, and the stiff breeze dropped as the sun went down, creating ideal conditions for aerial nightlife. Starting with a batwalk from St Mary’s Church and across St Georges Field, we swiftly encountered several Common Pipistrelles, and then more distantly several Noctules hawking high over the woods. But the real highlights were a couple of passes of single Serotines, a large, broad-winged, powerful and dramatic sight, and a species not previously recorded around here.
As darkness closed in, a Muntjac started barking, and a (presumably nearby) shooting star descended towards Fingringhoe with an audible fizzy hiss. Returning to the moth traps in the churchyard, there were a few moths and other insects being attracted, along with a baby Hedgehog, shuffling, snuffling noisily behind the gravestones. In total we attracted around 15 species of moths: (in approximate order of appearance) Flounced Rustic, Snout, Square Spot Rustic, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Common Marbled Carpet, Large Yellow Underwing, Checkered Fruit-tree Tortrix, Diamond-back, Light Brown Apple Moth, Brimstone, Garden Carpet, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing and Light Emerald, and the two standout highlights, Feathered Gothic and L-album Wainscot. Photos of the latter two are posted below, showing just how subtly beautiful a combination of shades of brown can be.
When we reconvened this morning for the unveiling, nothing had snuck into the trap without us seeing it, but Debs and Greg brought down some of the fruits of their garden traps, including several different moths and a splendid orange-and-black Sexton Beetle, complete with an army of clean-up mites swarming over its body.
While the listed moths may sound impressive, in reality the number of species and individuals should have been much higher, especially when contrasted with Greg and Debs’ hauls from only a few hundred metres away. The recent drought is undoubtedly part of the reason, but as noted before, much of the finger of blame must be pointed at the fact that there is seemingly no provision or tolerance in the churchyard management for a space for nature. This is an issue Wivenhoe Watching Wildlife is hoping to take up with the Town Council over the coming winter.
Particular thanks go to Pat Hatch and Sonia Lindsell from the Essex Bat Group for so ably and interestingly leading the batwalk, and to Erwin and the Church representatives for once again welcoming us into the churchyard, and for providing a power connection for the moth lights.
Don’t forget, next event is Autumnwatch evening meeting in the Sailing Club, 30 September. Final details will be circulated nearer the time, but please remember to book your seats (even though they are free) to make sure we have enough…
Chris, Glyn, Greg & Richard – your Wivenhoe Watching Wildlife Team