She stayed long enough for me to take her picture, then glided sedately from her leafy bed into the water to hide in the Reed Mace, where no doubt she could feast on a bounty of unsuspecting small amphibians at her leisure. Delighted with my find, I sat on the little bench to look through the images on my camera and listen to the reed and sedge warblers, and to soak up more of the sounds and smells of the Reserve.
It was soon time to head back to the Centre.
A small (but perfectly-formed) bunch of enthusiasts was already gathering. After tea and cake, and in the cooler fresh air outside the building, we sat on the picnic benches to listen to a show-and-tell session from Gordon. He'd brought a collection of cocoons, caterpillars and moths with him so that he could enlighten and entertain us before the evening turned dusky and the night fell, and we could set about our main business of the night. Then he took us to see most of the 6 moth-traps he'd set up, explained how they worked, and after answering questions we headed back into the warmth for more welcoming hot drinks.
There was a delightful anticipatory buzz.
It's always like this at FohESC events, and on our Open Sundays at HESC - as it is with the visiting groups of schoolchildren and other people who use the Centre. It's good to see people come in, feel comfortable, make themselves at home.....
We swapped stories, and news, and soon the light began to fade. The first bats began to whizz past the large window, to the delight of our youngest member, and me too. We weren't going to be the only ones out mothing....!
And so we set off into the gloom.
The mothing lights were switched on, and we separated into two groups around light-traps set up in different areas near to the Centre building.
Very shortly the first flying and jumping things landed on the white sheets on the ground under the lamps. First to arrive were caddis flies, then frog-hoppers, crane flies and, of course, mosquitoes. Oh, and a grasshopper....
Soon after, one of the larger stars of the evening flew in - a beautiful Poplar Hawkmoth - followed by a host of larger and smaller micro and macro moths, with names that have been tumbling about in my head ever since, including:
Drinkers, Peppered Moths, Emeralds, Bright-line Brown-eyes (not to be confused with Brown-line Bright-eyes), Cream-Bordered Green Peas, Waves, Carpets, Hearts and Darts, different Borders, both Clouded and Broad, Large Yellow Underwings, Brindles, Beauties, Pugs, Fliers, Arches, Small Magpies...
There were Tortrix moths, maxi micro moths, micro maxi moths, moths with mythical magical monikers, and much later on there were moths on our legs, and arms, and in my hair....and my favourite amongst those moths I'd never seen before, a Burnished Brass moth....Gordon and Andy Harding, his able assistant, stationed themselves at one of the 2 lights, and helped us to identify and photograph a great number of them. Thank you so much to both of you!
As the night went on, people slowly and rather reluctantly drifted away, leaving just a very few of us to continue happily potting, exclaiming about, observing the beauty, intricacy and variety of, and finally releasing some of nature's smallest and most exquisite flying creatures....
|At the T junction by the birch tree, looking at the actinic trap.....|
|The lights go on, and the first of the night visitors arrive.....|
|Meadow grasshopper (Chorthippus parallelus)|
|Cream-bordered Green Pea|
Do join us next time there's an event, or come along on a 1st Sunday working party morning (you can always just come and give us a wave, or chat and maybe buy a cup of tea, or a permit if you don't yet have one) or on one of our Open Days on the 3rd Sunday of the month.....
See you at the oasis soon!
PS: 'The Cream Bordered Green Peas', 'The Brown-line Bright-eyes', 'The Borders', 'Heart and Dart', etc and similar, will still all be appearing at HESCFest (and somewhere even nearer to you) for the next few months....