A Day for Recorders

For the last seven years, the British Dragonfly Society has run a so-called Recorders’ Day, the recorders being those folks who collate and submit dragonfly observation records for each of the Vice Counties in the UK. The Vice Counties differ a little from the administrative counties, being, I think, somewhat historic, but continue to be used to maintain consistency of biological recording. This year, I was lucky enough to be invited to attend and felt privileged to do so. I was hoping finally to meet a few mentors face to face. The day was at Bubbenhall near Coventry.

This year’s presentations largely, though not exclusively, concerned the upcoming new Dragonfly Atlas. One was published 15 years ago but things have changed and an update is needed. In addition to species descriptions, this will feature details of species ranges based upon sightings together with illustrations of species and habitat. We have a vested interest in the atlas since the editors seem to have honoured us by choosing a number of our photographs for inclusion in the publication, which is due in May this year. The day was both entertaining and educational and I returned home understanding a new word: phenology – the study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events. Live and learn!

Not only did I succeed in meeting a mentor or two, but I managed to help one by giving him a push start when his car’s starter motor decided to fail. Pay back time, I guess. I returned from the environs of Coventry looking forward to a relaxing evening.

IMG_0028 UID micro mothOne side effect of cooking with kitchen windows open later in the evening is that moths tend to enter in search of the moon. Far from finding this an irritation these days, my love of critters with six legs turns this into an advantage. This evening we caught two, one macro moth and one micro moth, both of which had me reaching for a camera and macro lens. If a macro moth requires a macro lens, what does a micro moth require? A microscope, presumably. 🙂 He had to make do with a macro lens, though, and here he is in all his as yet unidentified glory, sitting on the glass of our back door, The picture, I must point out, is courtesy of Carol’s much steadier hand than mine. I have enough trouble identifying macro moths with a field guide so, having no guide for micro moths, I have no chance at all. So, after spending a day with the dragonfly recorders, I resorted to our micro moth recorder to see if he could help. My new friend turns out to be “a worn male specimen of Diurnea fagella, micro moths tending not to have vernacular names. The females have very much reduced wings, apparently.

IMG_0021 Pine BeautyOur macro visitor was noticeably more colourful and considerably more theatrical in its choice of stage. Having spent some time fluttering around our kitchen table lamp, it finally settled, on our wall tiles. I dislike flash photography in general but in this situation it produced a very pleasing effect. I snapped a picture or two angled to try to avoid any nasty shadows, the normal problem with flash. Resorting to a little chimping [the act of studying one’s previous shots on a digital camera’s rear screen, frequently missing another shot while so doing], I noticed a partial reflection of my subject in the tiles. It looked good so I recomposed to get the complete reflection. The weird thing is, these tiles are a very light cream colour. See, cameras DO lie. [Pity we didn’t get a chance to clean the tiles, though!]

I told you I had difficulty identifying moths and this character was no exception. Fellow enthusiasts to the rescue; it is a Pine Beauty (Panolis flammea). In my defence, the book picture is of the dorsal view and the wing markings look a little less obvious. Of course, once it was pointed out to me, it became obvious.

So, a dragonfly day that ended with a couple of new moths.

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