I spent a few hours last Sunday wandering the sunlit rides of the wonderfully named Mad Bess Wood near Ruislip in the company of one of our most beautiful butterflies, the White Admiral. Many other butterflies were on the wing including my first Gatekeepers of the year and a solitary Purple Hairstreak but the White Admirals stole the show, delicately gliding down from the treetops to take a sip of nectar from a bramble blossom or engaging in a brief dogfight with a belligerent Speckled Wood, they seem at the same time impossibly exotic and yet as quintessentially English as the oaks they inhabit; a fine way to pass the time on a glorious summer afternoon.
A greenhorn lepidopterist at large in suburban London
Berrylands Station is on the London Waterloo to Hampton Court line between New Malden and Surbiton, a 25 minute train journey from central London. I became aware of its potential for attracting moths in late August 2008. The station is situated on an embankment with the Hogsmill Sewage Farm directly to the north and a typical mix of suburban houses and gardens to the south. The elevated aspect of the station and the comparative lack of domestic and street lighting in the immediate area mean that it acts like a huge moth trap, there are white-painted covered waiting areas and staircases on both platforms, these are illuminated at night and most of the moths are found in these areas. What follows is my attempt as a novice lepidopterist to record and catalogue all the macro moths I encounter on my daily commute to work along with the occasional "awayday" in search of other British lepidoptera .