Monday, 30 April 2018

Not finding moths in Epping Forest

Some time ago I booked a day course at the Epping Forest FSC entitled 'Spring Moths for Beginners', thinking it would help me with moth ID as I am now running my little moth trap at least once a week.  I planned to make a weekend of it, staying in my campervan the night before and afterwards, and spending a bit of time exploring the area, which is somewhere I had never been before.

I set off late morning last Friday, after checking my trap which I had run the previous night for the Garden Moth Scheme - 6 moths found around the trap - not a good omen, after the much higher figures found the previous two weeks.  However 4 of the 6 were new for this year, so that was nice.  The weather had turned much colder and it was not a good forecast for the weekend.

Purple Thorn on the wall near the moth trap

Arriving at the Lee Valley Campsite, I checked at reception that I would be able to get back on site on Saturday night as I knew we would be trapping until at least 10.30pm. 'Oh no, we put the security barriers down at 8, - but you might be able to squeeze underneath!'  Long story short, a Bongo will go under the barriers at LV with about 1cm to spare.  So that was OK.

Bongo parked up plus new pop-up tent for storage on site

I was impressed by the campsite and the staff were lovely, very helpful.  There were mostly bigger motorhomes on site but a couple of brave souls were in tents - rather them than me.  Mine was the only Bongo.

It rained off and on until about 3, when I ventured out for a walk down by the river.  There is a huge reservoir not far away but I couldn't find the path to be able to see over it.  The river was quite nice though, lots of coots nesting, whitethroat and chiffchaffs singing, and a big flock of swallows all lined up on the fence before swirling around overhead.

Coots with recently hatched chicks
Mosses and lichens on the bridge parapet

On Saturday the course did not start until after lunch so I set off for Epping Forest in good time for an enjoyable walk, before having my lunch in the FSC carpark.  I saw some nice big old trees, quite a lot of walkers, but not much else.  I did find Cardamine flexuosa, Wavy Bittercress, growing by the path, which I think is a new plant for me.

Epping Forest

Epping Forest

The Moths course was very interesting and the tutor Martin Harvey very knowledgable.  We were mostly indoors but had a damp walk around later in the afternoon, looking for day flying moths (1 plume moth found) and larvae (a few very small caterpillars found).  After a nice meal in the Kings Oak nearby, we set up various types of moth traps and spent a couple of hours wandering around in the rain looking at slugs and beetles, and the newts in the pond while waiting for the influx of moths (a grand total of 3 Brindled Pugs).  It was a shame the weather was so inclement but I still learnt a lot.

On Sunday I set off for home, stopping off at Fingringhoe Wick, the Essex Wildlife Trust reserve.  I had previously been there looking for bees on a field trip from Flatford, but this time I concentrated on the bird-watching areas.  It was high tide so the inter-tidal area was covered, it looks to have great potential for waders, and I intend to come back and probably make a weekend of it by including Abberton Reservoir which is just up the road.  I did get a brilliant view of a singing nightingale and heard a turtle dove purring, so well worth it.

Lunch time view

The Inter-tidal area at high tide

Colne Estuary

All in all a great weekend.  The Bongo was ideal as my base, and I am looking forward to many more similar expeditions.