Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Clifden nonpariel in Shadoxhurst

The Clifden nonpariel is possibly the most beautiful moth I've seen in the UK. By luck and by Sian's initative (she put the Moth trap on) we managed to catch one on Saturday night in our garden moth trap. When we checked the trap at midnight, there was little indication of the surprise to come, as there was very little other Moths activity that night.  Once the Moth was found, there was little surprise to my local 'mothing' friends who believe, that despite its extreme rareness, Clifden nonpariel may be breeding in Orlestone Forest.

Seeing a Clifden nonpariel for the first time is as memorable as any other great first wildlife encounter, be it a stunning Peregrine falcon or a Stag Red Deer laden in antlers; they all share a magnificent presence. When you see this moth, you'll be impressed, firstly, by is its great size- nearly as big as the palm of your hand. Its wings are marbled beautifully, camouflaging cryptically against tree bark. Its patterning contrasts strikingly underneath with its silky white satin body and black and white boldly marked wing undersides. Its most memorable feature is still to come as its unique appearance is not fully revealed until the moth stretches its wings to reveal a striped black and azure blue underwing that beguiles every time you see it.

Local moth experts believing it has started to recolonise Victorian breeding site at Orlestone Forest. It could be that this moth may have been a immigrant, as its appearance coincides with easterly winds and many rare birds arriving on the east coast.

It's so rare that I can't guarantee I'll ever see a second one, even with the aid of a moth trap.  Luckily my memory of the first one caught in the garden will never be forgotten. Our Moth was released back to Orlestone Forest at Moat farm.

Clifden nonpariel (Blue Underwing), Shadoxhurst September 25th 2014

Pictures taken with Moth settled on glass

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