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An individual, of no great importance, who is unable to the see the natural world as a place for competition, that was until Covid-19 intervened!. 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!

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Thursday, 19 May 2022

Garden mothing - dalliance or distraction?

It would have been sometime in the late 1990's when, whilst at Dungeness Obs, Dave Walker handed me a pot, straight out of the fridge, in which was contained a Tree-lichen Beauty. At that time it was the second, or third, UK record and I treated the pot as if it were "Ming Dynasty" porcelain. I was running a MV trap in the garden but, have to admit, macros were all I worried about. Micro moths were a bloody nightmare and, pre WWW, id reference material was virtually non-existent. Around this same period, another very rare "micro" had been caught which, once again, Dave handed to me for inspection. He might as well have passed me an empty Mars bar wrapper - I couldn't give a toss! I recall Dave questioning "why" I bothered running a trap if I didn't record what I captured? Well; recording was then, and remains to this day, Dave's job! My involvement is about the enjoyment of looking and all I can say is that nothing has changed in the intervening period to alter my viewpoint.


Moths are, without any doubt, fascinating insects but they play a very small role in my involvement with the natural world. Of course I derive pleasure from my garden mothing but, knowing what I catch it is of zero importance to anyone else, harbour no desires to get involved within a bigger picture. I absolutely love sorting through the egg boxes, each morning, looking at the creatures that have been attracted by the light. I use my camera, with extension tubes, to record images of those insects with which I'm unfamiliar. If I don't manage to ascertain a positive id - so be it! As I have no need, or desire, to place a tick in a box of a "pan-listing" spreadsheet, any moth that is encountered will remain free to continue with life. Sticking pins through specimens can't be justified from my perspective. Obviously, there are plenty of other folk who view the world very differently and could offer, equally valid, arguments against "catch & release" angling, so each to their own seems the sensible option?






From where I now sit invertebrates, of whatever taxa, will continue to provide a superb side-show away from the angling and bird watching which is the bedrock of my natural history involvement. That I'm now finding myself enjoying keeping our garden looking good, and this includes maintaining a number of hanging baskets and planters, demonstrates the mellowing effects of the aging process. If, or when, my mobility starts to suffer, then moth id might become a major factor but, until then, I'm happy just to look and learn without any outside pressures.

6 comments:

  1. I feel very similarly Dyl. A 'superb sideshow' is exactly how I see invertebrates. A constant source of wonder and fascination. Full stop! 😄

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    1. Hi Gav, cheers for the comment. The older I get the more I'm amazed at the diversity of the creatures which inhabit the same space as myself. I'd never looked at spiders, slugs or beetles during my lunatic past but now, with more time, have to admit that I find them fascinating. Still, as much as I enjoy these encounters, a positive id isn't required to cement the moment into my memory vault. Take care and keep those Wheatear photos coming - Dyl

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  2. Another thing you notice as you mellow into old age is the fact that birds that you recall as common when you were younger, are now in short supply. Most streets in Sheerness town when I was a kid, had House Martins nests. The streets are still there but on the whole of Sheppey it's doubtful if more than a couple of pairs of Martins now nest. By the way, new age birders now refer to Wheaters as Northern Wheatears and Ruddy Turnstones, etc, etc.

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    1. Your observation about "once common" birds is spot on. I've not seen a House Martin this year! It has probably been the worst Spring I've experienced since moving to Thanet. That I'm now in raptures about a pair of local Greenfinches speaks volumes of these changing times. Northern Wheatear, Ruddy Turnstone and Winter Wren = utter bull-shit; the "snowflake birding brigade" can call them what they want - won't change my 1963 Collin's Field Guide nomenclature one iota. Cheers for the comment - Dylan

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  3. Dyl, I came across a chap once, examining arachnids (gently shaking ivy into a bucket). He revealed that he'd been a birder but wanted to cover paths less trodden. We had a good chat during which I mentioned finding a female Wasp Spider. Bingo! He'd been looking for a site for the species and hadn't seen one for over a year. Bet he wasn't wasn't expecting to get that information from some random passer by?

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    1. The moral of this tale must surely be "never judge a book by the cover"?

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