7 December 2014

Mining for moths: 6th - 7th December

Spent the last week visiting friends Kevin and Donna Cox at their place on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon - part holiday and part helping out planting a yew hedge in their newly built walled garden - part of much larger wildlife garden (or rather, grounds).

Yesterday and this morning, we explored one of the old copper mines on the Brook Estate looking for cave-dwelling animals. Copper was mined here from 1845 to 1885 and the main shaft at this particular mine, Pixton’s Shaft, drops vertically to an incredible 305 m! We looked at a short (c15 m) horizontal adit in the woods here.

Found quite a few Herald moths (counted 23 yesterday) as well as lots (c40 yesterday) of European Cave Spiders Meta menardi, including one guarding an egg cocoon suspended from the mine ceiling.

Two of the 23 Herald Scoliopteryx libatrix moths found hibernating in the mine, 6 December

Herald Scoliopteryx libatrix, 7 December

Spot the Heralds, 6 December

European Cave Spider Meta menardi, 6 December

Egg cocoon of European Cave Spider Meta menardi, 7 December

The only other noteworthy sighting from the week is a superb adult Goshawk low over the garden at Brook Manor being mobbed by 2 Common Raven on 3rd December.

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