Country Corner

A Mother Shipton moth
A Mother Shipton moth

OK. This may not be the best picture of a moth you have ever seen, but at the moment I feel it is the best I have ever taken. Let me explain.

The beastie may be partially obscured by grasses, and a bit fuzzy due to the fact I dare not go any closer for fear of scaring the insect away, but what this picture shows is my first ever Mother Shipton!

Named for the old crone’s face you can clearly see in profile on the moth’s forewings, Mother Shipton is a very rarely recorded moth locally, yet instantly recogniseable due to its famous pattern.

Famous among moth hunters that is!

There I was carrying out a butterfly survey for Torness Power Station, to monitor their colony of small heath butterflies, a biodiversity action plan species.

It was a rare gloriously sunny day and it was already obvious the transect was going to break its record number for small heaths by the time we were half-way through.

Cinnabar Moths were also numerous and active, and they too were exceeding any previous count.

It was then an unfamiliar creature fluttered past as I tried to decide if it was butterfly or moth. As soon as it landed I could see it was a moth but still not one I recognised.

Taking a picture at every step, I managed to get close. There is then the highly chancy moment of trying to ease the obscuring vegetation to the side for the final picture.

As you can see, it was then my luck deserted me, as did Mother Shipton !

You would forgive me for a moment of disappointment. On the contrary, I was chuffed to the gutties!

Just before the moth flew, there was that old crone so familiar to me from my many moth books. I swear she winked at me!