31 May, 2014

Kempton Nature Reserve

I visited Kempton Nature Reserve this morning to help Paul Wheeler search for the larval stages of the tiny micro moth, Neofriseria peliella. It's a member of the large family Gelechiidae, and has historically been restricted to only a handful of sites along the coast of Kent. It was therefore quite a surprise when two individuals turned up at a moth trap on the Middlesex reserve last summer, almost 100 miles from the only other known site for the species! The larvae feed on sheep's sorrel, and much of the morning was spent on all fours examining the stems of plants for evidence of the inconspicuous silk tubes within which the larvae develop. Neither of us wanted to admit the fact that it was very much a needle in a haystack job, and after a few hours of unsuccessful plant fondling, we called it a day. Moth-trapping in the next few months hopefully help determine whether an established population is present on site.

The reserve itself- which is only accessible for those with a Thames Water membership permit- is nothing less than a gem amongst the urban sprawl of Sunbury and Hanworth, combining short-turf downland with some fairly extensive reedbed and wetland habitats. Certainly worth another visit as the season progresses...

Alabonia geoffrella- one of late spring's best kept secrets, flying throughout the reserve.

Four-spotted Chaser

Acrocercops brongniardella- a larval leaf mine on oak.

1 comment:

Dave Boyle said...

Kempton was my local patch for a few years in the late '80s, nice to see its still there! Last time I tried to get in I couldn't get over the fence!