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 .

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

One L of a find

L-album Wainscot at Berrylands Station , 16/10/2015

It's not been a vintage year at the station, going into October on 85 for the year almost certainly means that a year list of 90+ is something of a pipe dream. Large Ranunculus on October 5th followed by Pink-barred Sallow on the 9th and Red-line Quaker on the 13th left me on 88 with the hope that a November or Winter moth might up the ante. On the evening of the 16th I found a wainscot resting on a ceiling joist towards the bottom of the downline staircase; Shoulder-striped Wainscot back in mid June was the first station  tick this year (and up until today the only wainscot) so any of the autumn mythimna would have added to the annual tally. Close focus binoculars are a prerequisite for mothing at the station and were duly employed in an attempt to identify this moth, as soon as I got it in focus I knew it was Mythimna l-album, L-album Wainscot. An anxious minute then followed as I coaxed the prize into my net and then a pot. Plant lists just a single record for the London area, near Bond Street in the West End on October 28th 1969. Since then the moth has become a little more frequent with something like 20 records in Surrey since 2005, an average of four a year making it easily my best find in the eight years of passive mothing at the station. I am grateful to Colin Plant and Graham Collins for their prompt feedback on the current status of L-album Wainscot in the London area and to Des McKenzie  for his confirmation of my identification and his ongoing support and enthusiasm for all things natural which inform and enrich the lives of those who take the time to see.  

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