Who am I?

An individual, of no great importance, who is unable to see the natural world as a place for competition. I catch fish, watch birds, derive immense pleasure from simply looking at butterflies, moths, bumble-bees, etc - without the need for rules! I am Dylan and this is my blog - if my opinions offend? Don't bother logging on again - simple!


Friday 29 May 2015

Why moths?

In the aftermath of the tea room micro-moth capture, Carl (the guy who wanted to call it "The Adidas Moth") asked me how I came to get interested in this group of insects? It set me thinking back to my early days in Kent. I'd moved, with my job and family (Julie, my now ex-wife, Sarah-Jayne & Benno) and had become a regular (daily!) visitor to Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory. This was the era of Rab Morton and a time when the original H-Block was purely a BTO ringing centre, not a social centre and coffee club (as it is today with it's SBBOT tag) The modern building is a superb facility yet, somewhere along the way, the soul, and purpose of the "Obs" has been lost?
In 1993, when I made my first visit, it was very apparent that there were some seriously talented naturalists associated with the place. Characters of huge experience and reputation - Dennis Batchelor, "Jolly" John Hollyer and Dr. Mike Sykes. Guys with lists as long as your arm - but real people! People who were only too happy to assist a novice birder, offering advice, pointing me in the direction of new and exciting discoveries and experiences! Then there were the foot soldiers - those folk who taken up the call to arms and manned the Obs, worked the nets and kept the records up-dated. It was these guys who were to play a vital role in my discovery of moths and mothing - Tim Bagworth, Andy Johnson, Paul. A. Brown and Wes Attridge. The moth recording at Sandwich Bay dates back to 1952 and these individuals were responsible for maintaining this proud heritage - armed with a very battered copy of Skinner! It was all about macros! Luckily Tony Harman  and Mr Bradshaw were on hand if anything, considered worthy, was outside of the scope of that reference book! Who knows what was missed/over-looked?

Yellow-barred Brindle - rather worn
It was in the early summer of 1994 that I took Benno (he was 10) over to the Obs to watch Andy Johnson go through the contents of the Robinson Trap. He loved it, examining every egg box that Andy passed over - a Poplar Hawk-moth was the defining moment! Benno was blown away and that particular event was to be the catalyst to us building, and running, a moth trap in our tiny garden in Ash. Just like any new interest, those early years were the most exciting - new species being regularly discovered as the seasons progressed. As Benno grew older, he lost some of the interest - he was a young teenager by then! I kept at it, although not as intently as at the start. In 2000, with my first marriage down the tubes, I was living in a Ramsgate flat - no garden, no mothing. It wasn't until Bev and I moved into the bungalow that I was able to rekindle this interest and, as it were, start from scratch in a new garden.
The Campion
My activity has ebbed and flowed with the passing years, but there have certainly been some excellent captures during this period. The trouble with garden mothing is that it can become rather predictable, the local habitat doesn't alter too dramatically from year to year, thus the moths remain much of a muchness. It is only during those periods of favourable migration conditions, when examining the egg boxes can really match those very early years for anticipation and excitement.
No doubt I'll stick with it, there's not that much to it - you're asleep and the light is doing the attracting - get up in the morning and see what you've got. A very lazy pastime, much the same as "specimen hunting"?

The accompanying photos are of moths which were in the trap, this morning, Knot-grass and The Campion are both new for the year.


  1. Great read Dyl and always nice to read a bit of background info on others pastimes. Keep up the good blog.

  2. Thanks Marc - mothing is more of a distraction than a pastime. I use it to fill in the gaps when fishing and/or birding isn't my primary focus. As for the blog? As long as I'm enjoying myself, then I'll keep going. If ever I feel that it's a chore - end of. All the best Dyl

  3. "There's not much too it" - identifying the bloody things is certainly a challenge!

    1. Derek - I have to admit that some of the little blighters are very much an identification headache. However, I have two very different approaches to this problem. Firstly - if I am unable to id the creature - so what? I only trap in my garden, these days, and what I see is of no business or concern to anyone else - nothing gets recorded officially. Secondly - and far more helpful - is the existence of Francis Solly and Phil Milton who are generally most capable of coming to my assistance, should I ask. In 2015 mothing is just something I do for fun, it might help my grand-children discover the joys of natural history but, if not, it is not something I do with any real conviction. I know what its' called, or I don't - makes not a jot of difference to my enjoyment of turning over the egg boxes in the morning. Hoping all is well with you? - Dylan

  4. Pretty much the way I look at ID-ing much of wildlife these days Dylan. At 68 I don't get too obsessed with knowing everything about everything these days, it's simply being out and about and enjoying being there while I still can.

  5. Hiya Dyl, long time buddy! Just a thought, if you are happy with the ID of at least most of the moths in your trap why keep the details to yourself? Pass the records/counts on and surely THEN it's job done. Just the way I see it anyway. I know we haven't always seen eye to eye on various aspects of our enjoyment of nature but surely we could agree on this, lol. Hope you're well mate, hope this summer gets going soon too - for you, for me and for the sake of the wildlife living out there in it.
    All the best mate, Seth

    1. Seth - we are miles apart, quite literally! Whatever turns up in my garden will make absolutely no difference to where this world is headed - fact! If I were to start entering my records into this ridiculous farce; all I'd be doing was encouraging the deluded cunts into thinking that I'd brought into this sham. Insects, birds, fish, yes they provide me with endless enjoyment, but nothing more. Think about it? You are but a spot on the arse of the earth - do you really think any of this stuff can make a real difference?
      Love, peace and lentil soup - Dyl