• Dawn McCall

A Trip to Kirkby Moor

Today I went on a trip to Kirkby Moor, walked down the gravely road that took me across swathes of heather. Sparkling golden sunshine shined off the smooth glistening rocks and sand that stretched the road. A beetle, big and black with satin ribbed wing cases scrambled over the gravel, 'Silpha tristis' says my trusty guide book, quick write it down! What's this in the sand? A small shiny black and red striped sawfly, No a black-banded spider Wasp says the guide, wow, write it down!

Ah another beetle but this ones got black and brown mottled colouring with small bead like ribs on it's shell, a click beetle, a chequered click Beetle says the guide, write it down. Then just at that moment there it was to my delight, the most handsome and amazing moth I've ever seen fluttering around me, just it's name is impressive The Emperor Moth!

The Male Emperor Moth

Above: A Male Emperor Moth showing off his beauty, these moths are found on heaths and moors. The males are day flying and are bright and flamboyant. Males have big feathery antennae which they use to find the bigger but less colourful females, which fly at night. The caterpillars are camouflaged among the heather.

Heart beating loudly I scrambled for my camera, the moth whizzed around in the air like it has caught fire then crash landed on the ground with a few bumps. I picked it up and it crawled on my fingers. I took a photo of this most amazing moth then placed it gently on the ground where it landed. To my amazement a second whizzed past up the road. I walked a bit further up the road till I came to an old fallen tree, I sat there for a bit in the warmth of the sun to see what else I could see. On the ground I saw another beetle, a longhorn beetle. Quick check of my guide, a two-banded longhorn beetle, write it down. A bit further up the tree another click beetle but this

Below: A Two-banded Longhorn Beetle on the tree below. These beetles larvae develop in decaying wood of logs and stumps of beech and oak.

one is smaller and has a red middle and a black tip to its abdomen, 'Ampedus balteatus' said the the guide, write it down. Another moth oooh whats this one a Beautiful Yellow Underwing, nice, write it down. Just then another Emperor Moth flew by and what's this another one and another and three more. This is crazy they're everywhere and with all this excitement I haven't even written it down.

When you go on a wildlife trip all you need is a camera, a guide book and a note pad and most important don't forget to write it down!

Above: Once again the very impressive Emperor Moth on heather.

Here are a selection of photos taken at Kirkby Moor

#2018 #KirkbyMoor #LowlandHeath #Heathland

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