Moth Night

A few of us have  been investigating the nightlife of Burrfeld Park. The night sky is usually full of insects feeding under the
protection of darkness. It may surprise you to know that there are over 2,000 different moth species in the UK, and over 1,700 of those have been recorded in Norfolk.

One way of seeing the moths which are around, is to use a light trap. This is basically a big wooden box with a bright electric light attached. The moths are attracted to the light, fall into the box, and are unable to escape. The moths can then be viewed, identified, recorded, and then released – unharmed – back into the wild.

For those who think all moths are dull, brown, small and boring, think again! The colours of some moths are amazing and have to be seen to be believed.

We caught an elephant hawk moth which is bright green and pink and about 7 cm long. We also saw a privet hawk moth which is the largest moth in Britain at a staggering 11.5 cm, which looks a dull brown colour until it opens it wings and you get a glimpse of the vivid pink hidden underneath.

We also caught a large yellow underwing – but no prizes for guessing the colour of its wings! The variety of shape and colour in our native moths is quite incredible. Although even I have to admit that; yes, some of them are on the small, brown and dull side.

Our first moth trapping evening at Burrfeld park attracted 13 different species of moth over approximately one hour, plus the appearance of a couple of pippistrelle bats.

Our neighbouring village – Saxlingham Nethergate – have been conducting a moth survey and have so far recorded over 240 different moths in their village. My own recording in Tasburgh has so far reached 97 different species. But if any other residents in Tasburgh are recording moths I would be very pleased to learn what you have caught, it would be interesting to see if we can match our neighbours.

The trees, which were planted in Burrfeld Park during the winter by volunteers, are growing well. Most are now showing above the top of the tree guards and are looking fine and healthy.

There was lots of blossom on the apple trees, although perhaps too early to expect any fruit.

Over the other side of the park the wildflowers have survived the ravages of rabbits and deer and most of the netting will soon be removed. It is always difficult to judge the damage caused by rabbits, so as a trial, when we planted our wildlflowers, we put a fence around some, and left the others exposed.

All of the fenced plants survived and are very strong and healthy. With the unfenced ones there was a battle between the rabbits and me, they would dig them up, and I would replant them, they would dig them up, and I would re plant them again… this went on for a couple of weeks then they got bored I think. I am pleased to say that most of the unfenced ones have actually survived this process, but for ease maybe future wildflower plantings will be fenced until established.

Burrfeld Park will develop over the years, as the trees, shrubs and wildlflowers all grow, and there is much work still to be done,
especially with the large amount of dock on site which will need to be controlled. There will be more volunteer days arranged in the autumn/winter and I hope that together we can make Burrfeld Park a great place for people and wildife.

Angela Collins – angelajcollins@yahoo.co.uk