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 .

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Mothing Year at Berrylands: 2012

Five of the eight new species recorded in 2012: Cypress Carpet, Barred Red,
 August Thorn, Dark Sword-grass and Common Carpet.

During 2012 a total of 87 macro moths was recorded at the station, the same as last year. The first moth of the year was  Spring Usher which turned up on the leap year date of February 29th followed by Dotted Border on March 1st then nothing for the next two weeks until Double-striped Pug and Early Grey both turned up on March 16th; four more species turned up during March, a very early Small Dusty Wave and Herald on the 21st,  Brindled Pug on the 23rd and Common Quaker on the 29th. April was quite disappointing with just three species added, Pale Mottled Willow on the 3rd, Hebrew Character on the 10th and Lime Hawkmoth on the 23rd. Things picked up during May with 15 species added, all but four in the second fortnight of the month; Brimstone Moth on the 3rd, Oak-tree Pug and Angle Shades on the 8th, and Silver Y on the 9th; the second half started with Green Carpet on the 17th followed by Flame Shoulder on the 19th then nothing until the end of month flurry commenced with Willow Beauty on the 27th followed by Maiden's Blush and Orange Footman on the 28th, Treble Brown-spot, Toadflax Brocade and Snout on the 29th with Common Swift, Purple Bar and Bright-line Brown-line all recorded on the 31st. Twenty species were recorded during June with the spoils equally divided between the first and second fortnights; Riband Wave and Cinnabar on the 1st, Common Marbled Carpet on the 3rd, Common Rustic agg on the 4th, Dark Arches on the 5th, Green Pug and White Ermine on the 6th, Garden Carpet on the 7th, Uncertain on the 9th and Pale Tussock on the 11th; the second fortnight kicked off with a station first in the form of Cypress Carpet on the 15th, not totally unexpected but very welcome nonetheless, the rest of June produced more standard fare, Pale Prominent on the 18th, Buff Ermine and Foxglove Pug on the 19th, Peach Blossom, Least Carpet and Small Fan-foot on the 20th, Waved Umber on the 25th, Dwarf Cream Wave on the 26th and Single-dotted Wave on the 28th. July also produced 20 species including three station firsts; Scalloped Oak and Common Footman on the 1st, Small Blood-vein and Flame on the 5th, Scarce Footman and Heart and Dart on 6th, Swallow-tailed Moth on the 10th, Pheonix and Lesser Yellow Underwing on the 12th, September Thorn, a station first on the 13th, Clay on the 16th, Barred Red, a station first on the 18th, Cabbage Moth on the 20th, Svensson's Copper Underwing on the 21st, Broad-barred White, a station first on the 23rd, Common Emerald, Common Carpet and White-spotted Pug on the 25th, Marbled Beauty on the 26th and Early Thorn on the 27th. Things started slowing down from August with only ten species added during the month; Lime-speck Pug on the 1st, Poplar Hawkmoth and Small Ranunculus on the 3rd, Yellow-barred Brindle on the 6th, Yellow Shell on the 7th, Dark Spinach on the 9th, August Thorn, a station first on the 10th then nothing for two weeks until Cypress Pug and Red Underwing on the 24th. Into September and by now it s very much a game of diminishing returns, Burnished Brass and Straw Dot appeared on the 3rd, Flounced Rustic on the 4th and Light Emerald on the 6th then nothing new until Square-spot Rustic on the 17th and Vine's Rustic on the 19th; September still had a surprise up its sleeve, a totally unexpected Dark Sword-grass on the 26th followed by the last moth of the month, Large Ranunculus on the 28th. Four new species appeared in October, Mallow on the 3rd, Lunar Underwing on the 7th, Brick on the 22nd and the final station first of the year a long overdue November Moth on the 23rd. Only one species was added during November, Feathered Thorn on the 8th with two more added in December, Winter Moth on the 19th and Mottled Umber on the 21st. Six other species were added at other stations along the route as follows: Early Moth at New Malden on February 19th, Dark Chestnut on March 6th, Seraphim on May 3rd, Dun-bar on July 6th, Dark/Grey Dagger agg.  on August 9th and Chocolate Tip on August 15th all at Raynes Park.

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