Red-tipped Clearwing – The Tophill Low Project

Red-tipped Clearwing Synanthedon formicaeformis Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire June 2012

Red-tipped Clearwing Synanthedon formicaeformis was today recorded for the third year successive year at Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire.

A scarce species, with only 26 individuals recorded in Yorkshire at only 19 sites since the first sighting in 1947 per the Yorkshire Moths website.

So how did it get found at Tophill Low?

Back in 2005, fellow Lepidoptera enthusiast Martin Chadwick and myself teamed up – selected a nationally scarce species that could possibly occur at Tophill Low NR – and after some thought we came up with Red-tipped Clearwing.

With the habitat deemed suitable we chose to ignore references to the unlikely occurrence of our chosen target species citing poor recording as the reason it was deemed scarce in VC61 and Yorkshire as a whole.

Summer 2005 produced no records of the species, but with more planning the project moved into 2006 and for various circumstances, I took sole responsibility of the project. However, the summer proved to be equally unfruitful. Many hours of time surveying and no results.

The summer periods 2007-2010 provided the same number of records – absolutely nothing. The project had so far proved that if I was thinking of seeing Red-tipped Clearwing at Tophill Low NR then –

a) I was stupid

b) I had got my idea totally wrong… and therefore knew nothing about Lepidoptera and the habitats required for each species

c) the hours put into it – seven summers and countless hours suggested the project was a total waste of time!!!

Survey work during the ‘understood’ flight period of the species appeared to once again prove Red-tipped Clearwing didn’t occur at Tophill Low during summer 2011 – until the afternoon of July 30th when Doug Fairweather and myself discovered a male. The following day saw me discover another male at a different location on site – these being, as I understand from the internet, the first VC61 records for several years.

Year eight of the project began with Doug Fairweather taking the photograph at the top of the post of one of two fresh individuals seen on June 30th 2012 – however poor surveying conditions, saw no more records during the rest of summer.

And so the ninth year of the project commences with the earliest record of Red-tipped Clearwing on site with two individuals that would be deemed in birding terms to be ‘showing well’!!!

What the project does show is that if you look hard enough, things are there to see and find – it is without doubt that the species I chose to invest my time in occurs elsewhere along the River Hull – it just requires folk to find it.

However, after six moths, almost a decade of searching and a total viewing time in the period of less than five minutes – I wish folk luck!


One response to “Red-tipped Clearwing – The Tophill Low Project

  1. Pingback: New Cydia for VC61 and clearwings galore |