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Early Autumn Moths

Success in Fermanagh
An end of summer weekend in County Fermanagh offered an opportunity to add at least one more moth species to the gallery. I had promised my son a visit to Marble Arch Caves, but the summer holidays passed without the opportunity. Not wanting to disappoint I looked into reasonable cheap but comfortable accommodation, as it was decided the camping season was definitely over for this year. Tir Navar, part of the Field Studies Council complex in Derrydonnelly,fitted the bill perfectly, especially when it came to location for some good moths. Nearby was one of the few Irish strongholds for the rare Pale Eggar moth.

Two nights with less promising weather forecasts to try my luck. Arriving down on the Friday evening and after checking in, it was straight out with the moth traps to find suitable locations based on the advice of more experienced moth-ers. So far it was cloudy and dry, which was promising but a little cool. As darkness descended it was back to Derrygonnelly for night time wander with my son with a UV torch to look for caterpillars and a bat detector. Glowing in the darkness under the UV light were a couple of large caterpillars on the willow trees. Using our head torches I was quickly able to ID them as pale tussocks, one of more impressive caterpillars. This species appears to be spreading north through Ireland, so it make North Antrim in the future. As the rain started to fall it was back to the apartment for the night. Click on the images below to view larger.

Next morning I awoke, early as usual, to find it very dark and wet. The first trap had been in the open and given the conditions I wasn't too surprised at relatively few moths, the highlight being a fresh Black Rustic. The second trap located on the edge between woodland and heath was even more disappointing with a handful of common moths. The final larger trap was set further into the birch wood in anticipation of a deterioration in the weather. On approach I could see already there more moths around and on the trap, let alone inside it. Slowly I made my way through the them, recording as I went. Quickly I got sight of a moth the right size, shape and colour for the target species- sure enough the first of two male Pale Eggars. As the light improved I set up the camera for some images and then back to Derrygonnelly for an excellent breakfast with the family then an excellent visit to the Marble Arch caves and Florence Court house and gardens.

With the pressure off trapping, on the second night produced two more Pale Eggars and other highlights included a Canary Shouldered Thorn, Heath and Neglected Rustic. All in all a very enjoyable weekend break.