Saturday, 6 June 2015

#30DaysWild: An island adventure

Day 5 and 6 of the #30DaysWild challenge was a little different to the norm. I headed off to the Isle of Wight to help Hampshire and IOW Wildlife Trust survey for Reddish Buff - an extremely rare species of moth in Britain.

We travelled over yesterday evening, set up 6 moth traps, and waited patiently for it to get dark. Although the temperature dropped very rapidly, by 11pm we had managed to attract two Reddish buff to our traps!

The moment we found a Reddish buff
The next morning (today) we went back to the site to see what we could find in the daytime. There were lots of butterflies about and I saw my first Green hairstreak, Common blue, and Large skipper of the year. We also spotted Small heath, Brimstone, Holly blue and Red admiral too.

Green hairstreak
In the afternoon we headed to Ventnor on the island and saw tens of Glanville fritillaries - beautiful butterflies that I have never managed to see before. There was also a Wall lizard, and a couple of Hummingbird Hawkmoths around too.

Glanville Fritillary
It was a bit windy for underwing shots...

Thursday, 4 June 2015

#30DaysWild: Outdoor Event and BBQ

Today I got to spend the whole day outside in the beautiful sunshine. I was working at a nature event at Butts Pond Meadows in Sturminster Newton. The event was aimed at local schools and involved a number of nature organisations including the Hawk and Owl Trust, Butterfly Conservation, and Dorset County Council rangers team.
I spent the day planting caterpillar 'munch boxes' and butterfly/moth 'fuel stations' (aka Bird's foot trefoil and Catmint) with around 140 children! It was a great day and we even found some caterpillars busily munching away on nearby stinging nettles.

I continued to make the most of the sunshine in to the evening, having my first BBQ of the year!

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

#30DaysWild: Moth trapping

Day 3 of #30DaysWild was a day full of moths. Moth trapping and recording is something I do very often in the summer months, partly due to my job but also as a hobby. I love the mystery of it all - the fact that these creatures are flying throughout the night and we rarely get to see them, and the surprise in the morning when you look through the trap and see what you have found.

I mainly use a Robinsons light trap to trap and record the moths in my garden. This basically consists of a really bright light (Mercury vapour bulb), sat within a cone on top of a large round box full with eggboxes. Moths that are attracted to the light fly in, get a little confused and end up inside the large box full of eggboxes. Come morning the moths have snuggled themselves in to a corner of an eggbox and most will try to stay as still as possible throughout the day so they don't get spotted by predators. This makes them really easy to record and also great 'live specimens' to take to schools and show children.

This morning I had a total of 18 species of moth in the moth trap, including one of my favourites, the White Ermine. Named after the fluffy ermine coats, the White ermine has a really fluffy head.

White ermine from my garden moth trap

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

#30DaysWild: Planting a Butterfly Garden

Day 2 of #30DaysWild took me to a primary school in Wincanton, Somerset. I am very lucky to work as an Education Officer for Butterfly Conservation on a Project called "Munching Caterpillars", which visits schools and events all across Dorset and Somerset. The Project itself is primarily funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and aims to provide children with free, fun and interactive workshops all about butterflies, moths and caterpillars. It's a great project, and a great job!

Today it was Our Lady of Mount Carmel Primary School's turn to take part in the workshops. Three classes got involved (Year 1, Year 3/4 and Year 6), each learning lots about butterflies, moths and caterpillars in the classroom before heading outside to help plant up their very own butterfly garden within their school grounds!

The children planted butterfly-friendly wild flower plug plants to help provide an important nectar source for hungry insects. Hopefully the plants will also attract more butterflies and moths to the school grounds so the children will have a better chance of spotting these beautiful creatures during break times.

The plants we planted today were:

Bird's Foot Trefoil - a good nectar source, but also the food plant of many caterpillars including the Six-spot burnet moth and Common blue butterfly.

Catmint - a lovely scented wildflower that produces lots of nectar.

Cornflower - a very pretty nectar plant that produces bright blue flowers.

PS Wildlife Gardening tip of the day: plant a variety of native wildflowers in your garden to keep butterflies hanging around for longer. Butterflies like there to be a mixture of nectar plants and caterpillar food plants.

Monday, 1 June 2015

#30DaysWild: Walk in the Rain

#30DaysWild is a fun initiative set up by the Wildlife Trusts to encourage everyone to take a little time each day in June and have a 'wild' moment. You can find out more about it on their website..

Although I find it extremely easy to have wild moments every day both through work and my hobbies; I have decided to take this challenge to help raise awareness of the importance of the natural world, and to try to encourage myself to write more blogs... because I am rubbish at it!

So my little bit of wild for Day 1?

Well it's the official first day of summer so of course it had to be a walk in the rain! After a hectic day in the office, a walk with my dog Fleur was just what I needed :)

Accidental 'artistic rain' shot

Wet dog
Ooh and I also found out that I have a scarce (ish) moth living in the moss on my roof. It's quite a small brown jobber called Bryotropha basaltinella. Thank you to Mark Parsons who dissected a dead specimen for me.