May 25th & 26th - Murlough Nature Reserve, County Down

Conductors; Moths - Ted Rolston, Butterflies – David Nixon

We set up our moth traps on Friday night with the help of Ted Rolston and Andrew Crory. Murlough Nature Reserve is well known as a species rich area and we looked forward to a good number of moths.

We were joined by Butterfly Conservation Northern Ireland members as bright and early on Saturday morning the traps were collected and we started to record from three Mercury Vapour (MV) traps and one Blacklight trap. We were not disappointed as we started to identify the catch. There were too many species to list here! I will try to give an idea of the variety and list the ones I thought were most spectacular - Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor), Peppered Moth (Biston betularia), Pale Prominent (Pterostoma palpina), White Ermine (Spilosoma lubricipeda), Muslin moth (Diaphora mendica), the beautiful Peach Blossom (Thyatira batis), female Emperor moth (Saturnia pavonia) - which laid eggs in Trevor Boyd’s MV trap, Clouded Silver (Lomographa temerata), Early Thorn (Selenia dentaria) and True Lover’s Knot (Lycophotia porphyrea) to name but a few.  Thanks to Samuel Millar (a young enthusiastic BCNI member) for letting us use his photographs in this report. The link below gives you a good indication of the range of fantastic moths we identified.


Many thanks to Ted for sharing his vast knowledge, his time and patience to make all of this possible.

We then continued onto the dunes with David Nixon as our Leader and again were delighted with the range of species we saw. First was a Cryptic Wood White (Leptidea juvernica) and Butterfly Conservation's National Chairman David Dennis, who was visiting BCNI for a few days, was delighted as it was his first sighting and it meant he now had seen all the butterfly species in the British Isles!

Then a newly emerged Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth (Hemaris tityus), the wings were still covered in black scales which are shed when it takes it’s first flight. Another rare sight, well done again to Samuel whose eagle eyes spotted it in the grass, looking just like a large bee!

As we walked on, the Marsh Fritillaries (Euphydryas aurinia) appeared in good numbers, hopefully showing that this continues to be a good habitat for them. We also saw day-flying Common Heath (Ematurga atomaria) and Cinnabar (Tyria jacobaeae) moths and one Large White (Pieris brassicae) and four Small Copper butterflies,(Lycaena phlaeas).

Then the icing on the cake when David Nixon saw a Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi) circling a gorse bush. The ‘green’ colour is due to interference of light within its wing structure and at rest it can be blue or green, for us it was a splendid green which was hard to capture on camera. This is only the third record of this butterfly on this site, first recorded about 1 mile closer to Newcastle in 2011. A wonderful experience for all of us.

Many thanks to David for giving us a chance to explore this rich habitat with him.

Pamela Thomlinson

Thanks to Abigail Dunnes and Samuel Millar for the use of their photographs.

Field Trip Reports 2012Field_Trip_Reports.html

Peach Blossom (Thyatira batis)

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Marsh Fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia)

Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk Moth

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