True roy­alty in moth world

Middlesbrough Herald & Post - - HERALD & POST -

ONE item I’ve long been promis­ing my­self but never got around to pro­duc­ing is a moth trap.

Once I fi­nally get the show on the road, I might see won­der­ful sights like this one.

This im­pres­sive crea­ture is an em­peror moth, which was spot­ted by David Hatton when he was out walk­ing on the moor edge above Guis­bor­ough. He snapped this pic­ture with this mobile phone.

Although we don’t spot them too of­ten, em­peror moths are rea­son­ably com­mon through­out the coun­try and are found both on moor­land and in the coun­try­side.

They are na­tive to Bri­tain and males fly through­out the day­time look­ing for fe­male em­peror moths, which are much less colour­ful.

I hope they don’t frighten off the fe­males as eas­ily as they quite ob­vi­ously de­ter preda­tors.

I’ve not spot­ted too many moths so far this year, but as they are ba­si­cally night-fly­ing in­sects then the in­vest­ment in a moth trap makes sense.

How­ever it’s great to have spot­ted so many but­ter­flies in the air de­spite the va­garies in the weather.

There was a huge fall of green veined whites through­out the Tees es­tu­ary a cou­ple of weeks ago but now other but­ter­flies are emerg­ing. I’ve spied a few com­mon blues around and some large whites.

And the flow­ers move on at their usual pace. I had to make a brief visit to the South-west last week and no­ticed that there were a lot of south­ern marsh or­chids in full bloom.

On the way I de­cided to drop in to Rut­land Wa­ter to check out the fa­mous nest­ing os­preys.

The nest is on the top of a high tele­graph pole stick­ing out of the wa­ter and you can get rea­son­ably good views of both adult os­preys and the nest from the main hide.

The male bird was sit­ting qui­etly on a nearby tree but de­clined to do any fish­ing dur­ing my visit, pre­sum­ably be­cause it was rain­ing.

A hide guide told me that two eggs out of four had al­ready hatched and the chicks were do­ing well.

The fol­low­ing day I was shocked to dis­cover that one of the chicks was dead, pos­si­bly af­ter hav­ing been ac­ci­den­tally trod­den on by the fe­male. It must have hap­pened af­ter I left Rut­land Wa­ter to com­plete my jour­ney.

The fe­male ap­par­ently re­moved the dead chick from the nest the fol­low­ing day, only a short time be­fore a third egg hatched. So the os­preys have two young again with one egg to go.

Na­ture is a won­der­ful thing for the crea­tures who sur­vive to ex­pe­ri­ence it.

Eric would like to hear from read­ers about what they have seen. Email him at eric.pay­lor@gmail.com

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