Saturday, 20 September 2014

An enjoyable night at Valley Ponds, Newhaven

On Friday 19th my Lewes District Council colleague (Dan Fagan) and I put on a moth survey for local residents of the Valley Ponds open space in Newhaven and to begin recording some of the species which are present around the ponds and gardens. This is a lovely little reserve and, I think, a perfect example of the archetypal open space: surrounded by, visited by and valued by lots of local residents.

Brimstone Moth
Rhomboid Tortrix
Willow Beauty
We ran two light traps from 7.45pm until 11.15pm. It was a beautiful clear, calm and warm night and an electrical storm somewhere off to the east provided additional interest. A really pleasing number of people (maybe 40 to 50) joined us to see which species were on the wing. Some good friends from the Castle Hill nature reserve also joined us. It was a pleasure to spend a few hours with such a friendly bunch and to see such enthusiasm in the many children who wowed at the moths as they flew in. This makes the effort worthwhile and I would happily visit again in the future.


The moths regrettably didn't exceed the number of people by very many (29 species, 59 individuals), but the very last moth of the night proved to be a nationally scarce species: the Scarce Water-veneer. Here is a list of what we saw:

Apple Leaf Skeletoniser (Choreutis pariana) 1
Dingy Dowd (Blastobasis adustella) 1
Garden cosmet (Mompha subbistrigella) 1
Privet Twist (Clepsis consimilana) 2
Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 5
Red-barred Tortrix (Ditula angustiorana) 1
Rhomboid Tortrix (Acleris rhombana) 1
Smoky-barred Marble (Lobesia abscisana) 2
Codling Moth (Cydia pomonella) 1
Scarce Water-veneer (Donacaula mucronellus) 1
Narrow-winged Grey (Eudonia angustea) 2
Wax Moth (Galleria mellonella) 1
Common Plume (Emmelina monodactyla) 2
Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata) 1
Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) 5
Dusky Thorn (Ennomos fuscantaria) 3
Willow Beauty (Peribatodes rhomboidaria) 1
Yellow-tail (Euproctis similis) 1
Shuttle-shaped Dart (Agrotis puta) 1
Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) 2
Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes) 2
Setaceous Hebrew Character (Xestia c-nigrum) 3
Square-spot Rustic (Xestia xanthographa) 12
Common Wainscot (Mythimna pallens) 1
L-album Wainscot (Mythimna l-album) 1
Centre-barred Sallow (Atethmia centrago) 1
Lunar Underwing (Omphaloscelis lunosa) 2
Straw Dot (Rivula sericealis) 1
Snout (Hypena proboscidalis) 1

The late and highly respected lepidopterist (and WW1 veteran) Guy Botwright lived very close to the Valley Ponds. He recorded moths and butterflies in this area (and farther afield) for decades until a few years before his passing at 102 years of age in 2000. The rich legacy of amateurs such as Guy cannot be overestimated and, for me, this added an additional layer of interest to our little list compiled on Friday night. I hope the locals are inspired to continue where Guy left off and I hope Dan and I have provided a helping hand...

Common Wainscot

The Snout
Lunar Underwing

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