Migrant moths continued to be attracted to light at Tophill Low NR in East Yorkshire during the latter part of October. Following two Vestal Rhodometra sacraria on the 17th, a third was trapped on the 20th and a fourth was captured on the 24th. A total of six Rusty Dot Pearl Udea ferrugalis were trapped between the 23rd and 30th taking the total for the year to seven individuals – a record year for the species at the reserve.
A Scarce Bordered Straw Helicoverpa armigera was trapped on the 28th – the first record since 2006 and only the fourth ever in Tophill history.
The number of migrant moths during October totalled:-
6 Rusty Dot Pearl U. ferrugalis
4 Vestal R. sacraria
1 Gem Nycterosea obstipata
1 Scarce Bordered Straw H. armigera
2 Pale Mottled Willow Caradrina clavipalpis
4 Dark Sword-grass Agrotis ipsilon
Plus, records of Turnip Moth Agrotis segetum and several Flame Shoulder Ochropleura plecta and Large Yellow Underwing Noctua pronuba were suggestive of being immigrants given the dates.
Away from the migrants, there are always commoner species which produce surprise records which included in this period the reserve’s first autumn record of Common Quaker Orthosia cerasi which was trapped on the 24th. This was followed on the 27th when a Red Sword-grass Xylena vetusta appeared – the second reserve record and the first for 4599 days – the previous individual trapped on March 26th 2005!!!
The 2017 flight period of Yellow-lined Quaker Agrochola macilenta has seen the species noted in record numbers on site. First appearing on the wing this year on September 27th, a total of 176 have been recorded to date. By comparison, since first documented on site, the 1996-2006 records totalled 66 individuals – but this total itself was surpassed between October 24th-28th when 70 individuals were trapped.
A pointer to the fact that the moth year has almost gone full circle appeared in the form of the first December Moth Poecilocampa populi on the 27th – a species which will be on the wing for the next month or so depending on temperature.
Under the microscope, and by way of genitalia dissection, Coleophora flavipennella was recorded on June 28th and C. tamesis was taken on July 14th – these two species take the reserve list to 673 species, while the number of species recorded during 2017 now stands at 512.
During the autumn of 2016, Hypoxylon subticinense was discovered on site by Doug Fairweather – this record prompting the Associated British Fungus Group to document the species’ occurrence in the 2016 winter edition of the Forayer magazine. Prior to the Tophill record, the species had not been recorded further north than Suffolk, and searching during the latter part of this month has revealed a more stunning example than that of 12 months ago.
October has seen an increase in gull numbers on D reservoir, and this will continue to dominate proceedings over the forthcoming months as the roost increases in number.
October has been spectacular for Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus with study of the gulls present on D reservoir during afternoons, and more latterly since change of the clocks to Greenwich Mean Time in the roost, revealing that at least 27 individuals appeared during the month. A few birds were ringed, but the distances involved mean they are impossible to read. The total for October is unprecedented for this month in site history, and the origins of these birds cannot really be determined. However, the predominate winds from the southwest are perhaps indicative of birds already in the country being displaced.