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 .

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Mothing Year at Berrylands: 2010

Just four of the 33 new species recorded at
the station during 2010:

Small Ranunculus on July 13th

Ruby Tiger on July 29th

Dark Spinach on August 27th

Bulrush Wainscot on September 20th

No macro moths were recorded during January and February but a Pale Brindled Beauty, the first of 33 new moths at the station (NFS), turned up on March 1st, a white-spotted Satellite (NFS) turned up on the 12th, with an Angle Shades on the 23rd the only other species recorded in March. The first half of April was very quiet with just four year ticks recorded; Common Quaker on the 6th, Double-striped Pug and Early Thorn on the 8th and Herald on the 12th. The second half of April was better with six year ticks three of which were also new for the station; Brindled Pug (NFS) on the 19th, Maiden's Blush on the 26th, Common Pug (NFS) on the 27th, Small Dusty Wave and Pale Prominent (NFS) on the 29th and Brimstone Moth on the 30th. A Pale Mottled Willow on the 13th was the only new moth in the first half of May, the last two weeks however saw a dozen new arrivals; Green Carpet and White-spotted Pug (NFS) on the 17th, Yellow-barred Brindle on the 18th, Lime Hawkmoth on the 19th, Toadflax Brocade on the 20th, Common Swift, Seraphim (NFS) and Common Wave on the 21st, White Ermine on the 24th, Oak Tree Pug (NFS) on the 25th and Garden Carpet and Buff Ermine on the 27th. June proved to be the busiest month of the year with 31 species recorded, including nine station firsts; Light Emerald, Cinnabar, Willow Beauty and Silver Y, all on the 1st, Pebble Hook-tip (NFS) and Mottled Pug (NFS) on the 2nd, Dwarf Cream Wave and Waved Umber on the 3rd, Treble Brown Spot, Riband Wave, Poplar Hawkmoth, Pale Tussock and Straw Dot all on the 7th, Lime-speck Pug, Freyer's Pug and Green Pug (NFS) on the 8th, Small Fan-foot (NFS) on the 10th, Orange Footman (NFS) and Iron Prominent (NFS) on the 11th, Miller (NFS) on the 12th, Least Carpet and Middle-barred Minor (NFS) on the 15th, Light Arches on the 21st, Large Yellow Underwing and Smoky Wainscot on the 22nd, Small Fan-footed Wave (NFS) on the 23rd, Small Blood-vein and Brown Silver-line on the 24th, Common Emerald and Common Footman on the 25th and Treble Lines on the 30th. Dusky Sallow on July 5th was the first of six station firsts in July, Cabbage Moth also turned up on the 5th followed by Spectacle on the 7th, Single-dotted Wave on the 9th and Scalloped Oak on the 10th, it was then quiet until the 13th when Small Ranunculus (NFS) put in an appearance, the 14th saw the arrival of Swallow-tailed Moth and Dark Arches (NFS) then Dun-bar on the 16th, Bright-line Brown-eye on the 20th, Plain Pug (NFS) on the 21st and Marbled Beauty on the 22nd; then nothing until the 28th when Common Carpet (NFS) and Yellow-tail appeared; the final new moth of July was Ruby Tiger (NFS) on the 29th. August got off to a good start with Yellow Shell, Copper Underwing and Red Underwing all appearing on the 2nd, Cloaked Minor, the first of six station firsts for the month, turned up on the 4th followed by Bordered Pug (NFS) on the 6th; there were no new arrivals for almost a week until Shuttle-shaped Dart turned up on the 11th followed by Dot Moth (NFS) on the 13th and Common Wainscot (NFS) on the 16th, then nothing new until the 27th when Vine's Rustic (NFS) and Dark Spinach (NFS) made a nice double to end the month. September got off to a slow start with nothing new until the 8th when Blood-vein and Square-spot Rustic appeared, then there was another large gap until Lesser Yellow Underwing turned up on the 17th followed by Bulrush Wainscot, the only station first of the month, and Large Ranunculus, both on the 20th; Snout turned up on the 21st with Old Lady, the last moth of the month on the 27th. Pink-barred Sallow on the 4th was one of only three new moths that turned up in October, but it was a station first, the others were Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing also on the 4th and Common Marbled Carpet on the 9th. Three new moths turned up in November, two of them station firsts; Streak on the 2nd and Mottled Umber on the 13th; the last new species of the year was Winter Moth on November 18th.

Away from Berrylands six other species were recorded at stations along the route as follows:

Earlsfield Station, Oak Beauty on April 13th and Figure of Eighty on June 3rd.
Raynes Park Station, Muslin Moth on May 7th and Leopard Moth on July 10th.
New Malden Station, Early Moth on February 17th and Twin-spotted Quaker on April 5th.


  1. your blog is lovely , I am curious to know how your fellow commuters react to your quest for moths and if you have converted any of them, I used to commute on that route many many years ago and wonder if minding your own business is still very much the norm , i can never hear the name surbiton without thinking of the lovely excuse: sorry i am late miss jones, wildebeasts on the line at surbiton

  2. Thanks Jane

    I usually arrive on an early morning Hampton Court train which gives me four minutes to wait until the Waterloo service leaves, I then have about 20 minutes to search the station for moths before the next batch of commuters appear, it's usually enough time to count and photograph anything interesting; I'm into my third complete year and I have never had to explain what I'm doing, although I have had a few funny looks. No sightings of Reggie Perrin so far and I'm beginning to think he might just be a figment of somebody's imagination; Wildebeest on the line at Surbiton probably wouldn't raise an eyebrow these days compared to some of the excuses South West Trains come up with