This morning (February 2nd – I’m writing this just after midnight) I found this Early Thorn resting on the wall by the back door. In my opinion Spring is definitely here. This is a male, as you can tell by the feathery antennae.
Usually National Biodiversity Week in Ireland begins on a Saturday and ends the following weekend. However, this year it is a two-week event which began the week before last and will be ending next Monday, June 1, the June Bank Holiday. However, it was only late last week that the cold Arctic winds abated and a tropical current took over, and what a weekend we had. The birds are nesting now and are interesting to watch – such as these Jackdaws nesting in one of our chimneys:
Also, the insects are now making their presence felt – keep an eye out for this creature:
This is the largest moth species most people encounter in Wicklow and is far bigger than people expect Irish moths to be –
However, although it’s large there are several much larger species found in Ireland, and the largest that does visit Ireland, albeit only occasionally, the Death’s Head Hawkmoth, is about twice the size of this species and far more robust.
Moths are not the only large insects flying about our short late May nights – you can still find Maybugs, aka Cockchafer beetles blundering about and crashing clumsily into windows, cars and the occasional forehead. They are not our biggest beetle species, but they are probably our most common big beetle species, but they fly for only a short time in late spring and early summer, spending most of their lives as white grubs feeding on the roots of plantains and dandelions.
Well, it’s late in the evening of 31 March and it has been a mostly dry but quite cold March, and tomorrow is the beginning of butterfly season, which is when naturalists all around Ireland begin systematically recording butterflies as part of the National Biodiversity Data Centre’s Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. I have seen few so far, but my first was a Small Tortoiseshell, which I nearly stepped on as it basked in bright sunshine on Sunday, 8 March. It was almost certainly one from last year which had awoken from hibernation. However, I saw and photographed my second butterfly on 19 March, and it was a newly hatched-out Speckled Wood, which is our most common species.
The following day I photographed my second moth of the year, a small handsome March Dagger – Diurnea fagella – a species which also flies in April.
And only in the last few days did I see two of the usual suspects flying about the garden, a Small Tortoiseshell which had almost certainly awoken from hibernation, and more surprisingly, a Red Admiral, which probably also was a newly-awakened hibernator, but which had ripped hindwings suggesting it had been pursued by hungry birds which had nipped at its wings.
So far there have been all too few butterflies and moths, but April will see many species waking up, hatching out and taking wing.