Category: Butterflies & Moths

Convolvulus Hawkmoth

24 Aug 2023
A monsteer moth in the garden – a Convolvulus Hawkmoth, so called because its caterpillars feed on common bindweed (Convolvulus). This moth is a rare immigrant – crossing the channel from Europe – and it's my first record in my garden. It looks surprisingly fresh, considering that journey!

Moth morning

16 Aug 2023
Perfect night for moth-trapping – warm, still and with some cloud to occlude the moon and stars. We had a rich haul in the morning – well over 60 species, including one new to me, with the egregious name Purple-backed Cabbage-worm Moth, but very beautiful despite that.

Red admirals

07 Aug 2023
Huge influx of red admirals in the last two days. There were about 80 of them on one buddleia in the garden. One interesting twist to this: the week before the storms here they had all been on the purple buddleia, this new influx were all on the white one, though both are still in flower. Different tastes for the new influx?

Pine hawkmoth

20 Jul 2023
A lovely pine hawkmoth, posing here on the only pine tree in my garden. The wings look a little blurred because it is vibrating them rapidly preparing to fly, but I caught it just in time.


17 Jul 2023
My favourite local butterfly has just emerged, right on cue in mid-July. There were at least half a dozen graylings flying round our garden in the sun this afternoon. They always rest with their wings tightly closed, so you only get to see the underside pattern on the wings but the patterning is very subtle. They also have the attractive habit of settling on garden chairs and tables, or even on your arm, so you can at least get a good look at thm.

Privet hawkmoth

14 Jul 2023
Monster moth in the trap last night – a privet hawkmoth. When released it settled for the day on a gatepost then at nightfall flapped away.


11 Jul 2023
The clouds of meadow browns on the bramble flowers have now been joined by some gatekeepers – smaller, more orange and with two eye-spots not one.

Village Voices Nature Note: Seismic Pleasures

The film-producer Sam Goldwyn (a Polish Jew, born Szmuel Gelbfisz) was famous for his inventive use of the English language in pronouncements like ‘a verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on’ and ‘I’ll give you a definite maybe’.  One quote that stuck in my mind today was Goldwyn’s formula for a good story, ‘Let’s start with an earthquake and build up to a climax’.  My day did indeed start with an event high up on the Richter scale of excitement for a naturalist, a shark at Shingle St.  No, not Jaws – no need to clear the beaches – but a moth of the same name, so-called from its sleek grey profile.  It’s a rare species though it once gained a certain notoriety from its appearance on a pub sign in Harlow when the New Town was founded in 1948 to accommodate London overspill.  The enlightened council of the time decided to name all the new pubs after moths and butterflies, so along with The Shark you got the whimsy of a Willow Beauty by the cricket ground and, for the more committed customers in town, The Drinker Moth (geddit?).

The Shark in Harlow
Oystercatchers. Photo: Cheryl Gray.

Anyway, my day ended with another thrill, involving a much commoner species of wildlife. Oystercatchers are one of the most easily recognisable wading birds on our coast, sporting that boldly pied plumage and striking orange-red bills.  I’ve been tracking the progress of a pair of them who bravely attempted breeding on one of the pools just to the south of Shingle Street.  They nested on an exposed little islet where they were very vulnerable to threats from dogs, foxes and predatory corvids and gulls.  I often sat on the sea-wall opposite watching over them like some proxy-grandparent, admiring the tremendous vigilance and courage of the two adults who would drive off crows by flying up like fighter-jets to intercept them and see them off with piping cries as shrill as smoke alarms.  After about three weeks they did to my relief eventually hatch four eggs.  The young birds were immediately very mobile, but I knew it would be another thirty days before they acquired the flight feathers that would lift them to safety when necessary.  The four youngsters were soon reduced to three and I feared the worst when I couldn’t see any of them today.  But then I found them again – a quarter of a mile further on  – and I realised they’d earned their wings and made their first solo flights.  Even if the earth didn’t move for me in quite the way Goldwyn hoped, I punched the air and enjoyed a strong shot of adrenaline.

Jeremy Mynott
3 July 2023

Meadow Brown

30 Jun 2023
Walking the sea-walls today, I disturb lots of meadow brown butterflies as I brush through the grasses. Suddenly a new generation of them is on the wing.

Meadow Browns

21 Jun 2023
Lots of meadow browns on the wing suddenly, working the grassy banks fo the sea-walls..