Posted by: lensweb | October 11, 2021

Moth Trapping at Orchid Wood Local Nature Reserve

Biodiversity Surveys of the Borough of Erewash in the 1990s highlighted the need to increase the amount of native tree cover and to create new wildlife habitats.  Thus in 1996 the 8.43 ha (20.83 acres) Orchid Wood was created from the former Elvaston sand and gravel quarry. After infilling with fly ash (an alkaline industrial waste known to support unusual plant communities), it was then capped with topsoil. Amenity planting of a great variety and number of (mainly) native trees and shrubs, 10,466 in total, was carried out in 1997 and 1998 by the Groundwork Organisation on behalf of Erewash Borough Council. The site design also incorporated a grassland community and an orchid glade. The project has been a success, providing an easily accessible green space for everyone and Orchid Wood was recently (2020) granted Local Nature Reserve status.

Orchid Wood LNR

Orchid Wood Grid reference: SK453324. is in Sawley, adjacent to Church Wilne Reservoir, close to St Chad’s Water, the River Derwent and a number of Local Wildlife Sites and it easily accessed from Wilne Road Woodland provides a very interesting venue for moth trapping and certain members of Long Eaton Natural History Society Wildlife Group have made four nocturnal visits to the site.  

To celebrate the declaration of Local Nature Reserve Status for Orchid Wood, on 18 August 2020 we took our new 6 watt actinic Heath Trap out for an outing. Unfortunately it pelted with rain so we went home. The following evening we returned for a short mothing session. Although we only stayed for one and a half hours we found a good variety of moths, 26 species including Dusky Thorn (A local Biodiversity Action Plan species), Pale Prominent, Poplar Grey, Orange Swift and Swallow Prominent and the tiny triangular Chinese Character.

On 12 September 2020 with the Heath trap after a sunny day with clear skies we were sitting in the dark again, listening to the Tawny Owls, very pleasant but we had lost the heat in the early evening, the temperature having rapidly dropped to 13C, we only saw 4 moth species. Although we were entertained by a family of Tawny Owls, and several Devil’s Horsecoach beetles were hunting on the footpath in the woods. After this, we had been put off using the Heath trap, as a couple of miles away at home in Long Eaton, where the moth trap is a 15W actinic we counted 100 moths of 20 species.

We wondered how many moths we would get with a 50W Mercury Vapour Lamp so on 11 September 2021 we went on site with the MV. Although the weather had been generally good. It was a cool evening with a heavy dew and the moths flew as if their wings were made of lead, a lot of them did not make it to in our leaky old Skinner Trap, the droplets of water on the mown grass acted like moth glue. This was the night of the Square spot Rustic, Setaceous Hebrew Character and Brimstone, 207 moths counted but, a rather disappointing 35 species, but it was pleasing to see a Chestnut, Brown-spot Pinion, 5 Pink-barred Sallows and a beautiful furry yellow Canary-shouldered  Thorn.

On 9 October 2021 (not Groundhog day but same trap, same time, same place) Autumn was really kicking in but late summer, still hanging in there. A warm night, 15C resulted in 62 moths of 21 species, quite amazing for this time of the year and we only stayed for 4 hours and when we left at 23.30 moths were still flying out of the trees. So, new for site, Merveille du Jour (so lovely!), Barred Sallow, Beaded Chestnut, Yellow-line Quaker, Red-line Quaker, Rhomboid tortrix, the Satellite, Lunar Crescent, Green-brindled Crescent, Brick, Red-green Carpet, Spruce Carpet and Black Rustic.

Altogether 76 species of moth have now been recorded at Orchid Wood and we have recorded Brimstone Moth at every moth trapping visit.  There will be more, there are other seasons of the year to explore. This site has definitely earned it’s Local Nature Reserve Status and with all the Aspen on site, we just know that soon there will be a moth mega-tick, the Clifton Nonpareil, but for this we will have to go back next year and hope for a warm, still night, to tempt them to drop in and show their colours!

Marion Bryce and Derek Brumbill

11 October 2021

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