Friday, September 26, 2014

Feeling Blue?

Clifden Nonpareil or Blue Underwing. 

Lightning sometimes strikes twice...

Remember the tale of the Death's head Hawk-moth? 

Well, last night at 10pm my niece texted me with a photo of a moth her friend had found in her garden...it opened to reveal non other than a Clifden Nonpareil! This was a genuine migrant all the way from Scandinavia and it looked like it too, with a missing hindwing and a torn forewing something had clearly been giving it a hard time. These vikings like it rough...

Further investigation found that last night it had flown over the finder like an 'injured bat' and crashed landed on her garden wall in Eastgate, Choppington, South East Northumberland where she had taken it into care. 

I collected it this morning and delivered it to Tom Tams, County Recorder. Tonight it has been twitched by several interested parties from as far as Teesside. This is the 6th for Northumberland, but the first to be twitchable, the last being in 1995 on the Farne Islands where Stef McElwee rescued it from the clutches of an evil Rock Pipit.

The first published reference to the Clifden Nonpareil's occurrence in Britain was by Benjamin Wilkes in his book The English Moths and Butterflies (1749), in which he recorded a specimen lately collected by a Mr Davenport on an ash tree near Clifden (now known as Cliveden) in Buckinghamshire hence its common name. The Nonpareil part, roughly translated, means 'without equal' and you can see why.

This is one of the most sought after moths by anyone on the north east coast, narrowly coming second to the aforementioned Death's Head, mainly because of its rarity and its exquisite blue flash on the underwing. There are no other moths in the UK that exhibit so much blue. This is a big moth with a 4 inch wing span and when it flashes blue, its a very impressive creature indeed.

Can this month get any better, what with big caterpillars, white hedgehogs, blue moths and rare warblers, I wonder who will call me next? 

4 comments:

Steve Gale said...

"Not one of those plastic ones that breed along the south coast either".... cough! sputter!!... what like the one I saw? Mr Sexton, you are a rascal!

Stewart said...

Oops...well, I did read that there was suspicions that they had been introduced? Maybe they are gen?

Stewart said...

Steve I take your point. Some Googling shows that those moths breeding are likely to be the real deal and not introductions. I have amended the blog accordingly...

Matt said...

Brilliant! Nothing as classy as this in land-locked VC30 (Beds) lately. Hats off to northern moffin'!