The insect survey training day took place on Saturday, and it was great to see an excellent turn out and so much enthusiasm for what has been an excellent volunteer project to date. The Boathouse Bistro at the Pier in Kinross must be thanked for allowing us to use their side room for the meeting.
We were pleased to welcome six new surveyors to the team of seasoned veterans, of which 10 were also present. We were able to cover a variety of points, including survey locations, recording techniques, methodology, the reports to date and the feedback provided by relevant charities, and we also discussed the possibility of utilizing our new recruits to establish a new survey site on Portmoak Moss. This is of particular interest for the wider variety of dragonflies, and there is also a good diversity of butterflies and moths too.
The season’s been slow to get started as you’ll probably have noticed: very few catkins on willows, the usual spring bloom of wildflowers seems delayed in exposed areas. This meant very few insects were recorded- 4 Small Tortoiseshells, 5 Buff-tailed Bumblebees and 2 White-tailed Bumblebees. We were able to examine the subtle differences between these two bees- the bright white tail and lemon yellow abdominal stripe of the White-tailed being the most distinctive feature on the queens of these two species.
An evening bonus prior to moth trapping, was the site of my first Swift of the year, cruising over the Pier at about 8pm. It seems a little early for this species, but soon there will be thousands in constant flight feeding themselves up after a long migration. Sadly, it was too quick for a photo, unlike this female Mallard by our boat in the Pier, who seemed perfectly happy posing for the camera!
With the temperature dropping through the course of the day, 8.30pm arrived with the wind increasing, the threat of rain and the wish that the winter thermals were back out! Despite this, 4 hardy souls joined Tim Brain and I for the first of our scheduled moth trapping evenings of 2013.
With the traps set by just after 9.30pm, we took the opportunity to go lamp one of the insect survey ponds along the old railway, in search of newts. No joy this time, but on a warmer evening it will be worth another look, as Palmate Newts were discovered in the Mary’s Knowe ponds a few years ago. The traps were set for about an hour and a half, with a total of 8 Common Quakers and 3 Hebrew Characters coming in to the light. 11 moths may not sound like many, but we were happy with that given the conditions, and Tim’s previous evening’s catches.
To put it in to context, this time last year Tim recalls counting somewhere in the region of 160 in one evening- will the temperature ever rise?! It’s certainly been a slow start to the mothing season, but things are sure to pick up at some point. In the meantime, check out the early season catches!