I was delighted to receive a parcel at the weekend containing the new book on micro moths and decided to take advantage of a rare day of sunshine followed by a dry and not too windy night by putting on the moth trap. Determined to get to grips with some of the very little brown jobs of the moth world, I diligently started potting some of the micro moths ready to start looking through the book in search of their Latin names. I have to admit to being a bit distracted though by some of the fabulous larger moths - particularly the monsters of the moth world, the hawk moths...
I caught a glimpse of a furry pink body - great, an elephant hawkmoth!
And as I upturned more of the egg boxes in the trap, I unveiled 3 more beauties - a poplar hawkmoth, a huge privet hawkmoth and a stunning eyed hawkmoth who tried to startle me with its bright pink underwings featuring peacock-like eye spots! This moth really has the best of both worlds - with it's wings shut it is incredibly well camouflaged amongst leaves and tree bark but if disturbed, it can startle you with those bright underwings, giving it enough time to fly off and avoid being eaten.
Plenty of other moths, which bodes well for the weekend's 'Ugly bug ball'. It is National Insect Week this week so we're celebrating with a weekend of marvellous moths, brilliant beetles, beautiful butterflies and darting dragons. Throughout the weekend we'll have moths to show you, insect top trumps to play, fingerprint bug bookmarks to make, guided walks and grass sweeping. Whilst the event officially starts at 10 am each day, I'll be in early to open the moth trap so if anyone does want to join me I'll be in the picnic area at the back of the centre ( near the playground) from 8 am.
We've also got an update on our barn owls in the centre...on Friday night our wardens hired an incredibly long ladder to enable them to reach the box in the visitor centre roof and ring the barn owl chicks. There are two chicks in the box - the larger of the two is about 6 weeks old now and is male. The smaller, younger owl we're not sure about yet - a bit too small to decide. Ringing the barn owl chicks enables us to track their progress - one of them may turn up in one of our owl boxes in a few years time and have chicks of its own. At one point we did have three chicks, but on one of the many rainy, windy days we've had this month the parents were unable to get out to hunt and it did not survive - rather grimly, the other chicks put their sibling to good use. Having been rather camera-shy in the early days, we are now getting good views of our barn owl family on the screen in the visitor centre, so come along and take a look when you next pop in.
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