Monthly Archives: August 2015

Rahmi M Koç Museum

I have two days in Istanbul; today I took the ferry from Eminönü, a few stops up the Golden Horn to Haskoy. It took me a little while of wandering around baking hot Eminönü before I found the ferry stop, and then I’d missed a ferry by minutes. So I walked around the back streets, mazes of tiny shops selling all sorts of specialist goods. Around where I was seemed to be hardware, electrical, weighing scales and cash register shops, but also basket-weavers and wood carvers, many of them working at the back of their shop. Love it.

derelict shipyards

After a cup of cay and 20 minutes on the water, from the ferry stop at Hasköy it was a short walk through the park to the Rahmi M Koç Museum, a large museum of transport, industry, commerce and also dolls houses, for some reason. It was a delight if that’s the sort of thing you fancy; quite nice to see massive shiny american cars up close for the first time in my life

and a few of the trains and trams really interested me. First up, the train car used by the Ottoman Sultan himself:

What a handsome chap.

And this, a Fiat La Littorina railcar, a fancy fascist railcar built in Italy. On the “nose” is a small bundle of sticks – the Fasces symbol of Italian Fascism. Stunning design unlike any other train I’ve ever seen – shame about the fascism.

A few Istanbul Trams and their interiors

Elsewhere were exhibits of carriages, invalid carriages, bicycles, motorbikes, motorboats, steam engines and of course Rahmi M Koç himself, the founder of the museum.

Interestingly enough, a display of a shipwright’s workshop

included a sailor’s trunk, from a J. Pinder of North Shields, 1861!

But the pride of place are the Glasgow-built ferry M/V Fenerbahçe, and the fantastic World War 2 era submarine TCG Uluçalireis.

I enjoyed a cup of tea and a pastry on the M/V Fenerbahçe, while I paid 7TL (about £1.50) for a guided tour of the submarine, unfortunately no pictures allowed as it is still operated by the Turkish navy. The tour was entirely in Turkish, and despite the best efforts of the overly-attentive security guard who knew about 4 words of English, I didn’t have a clue what was being explained; but still found the whole thing extremely fascinating.

Then a cup of coffee in the park, whilst Turkish men swatted away an absolutely enormous and terrifying looking Turkish wasp; followed by the ferry ride back, to discover to my utter joy and surprise that the hotel’s fixed my air conditioning. ahhh!

A First for the County

I’m not a great birder; I enjoy sitting in a hide watching them for hours, but when it comes to twitching and sea-watching I’ve never had any success; in 15 years I don’t think I’ve spotted a single unusual sighting that wasn’t first pointed out to me by someone else. It’s possibly also due to my bad habit of assuming that anything I see couldn’t possibly be rare, I must be mistaken. It’s just a pigeon.

Moths however – I take a picture of anything in the trap I’m unsure of and show it to experts. So when this one puzzled me, @ianbennell75 and @MothIDUK quickly confirmed it as a Buff Arches, Habrosyne pyritoides.

Buff Arches having a snooze

Having sent my moth trap off to my dad for him to discover the joys of mothing while I’m away, I sent my list from the past two months to Duncan, our county moth recorder. He requested pictures of a few, including the Buff Arches, and today he confirmed it’s the first record of a Buff Arches for the county!

The current known distribution almost stops completely at the border. It might just have been here a while and be under-recorded; there’s not a vast amount of moth-trappers out there, or is the distribution spreading north with climate change and warmer weather? Either way, a very exciting find for me!

Distribution of Buff Arches from the National Biodiversity Network Gateway:
Distribution of Buff Arches from the NBN Gateway

What a great end to my first summer moth trapping in the garden!

Buff Footman

Last night housemate Tom was complaining about giant moths in the kitchen (it was a few Large yellow underwings) so I thought it might be a good night for the moth trap?

It was!

First, here’s a Buff Footman, the first I’ve ever seen

A lovely Sallow moth

Riband Wave is a common one at the minute, but this one looks really good

Some moths show very wide variation – these are bot hDark/Common Marbled Carpet

My most favourite thing about Moth Trapping, since I really got into it this year, has to be how friendly and helpful the moth-er community is. Every time I trap, there’s at least 3 or 4 species I’m not sure of, and because of the nature of moths it’s very easy to take a picture and either tweet it on #TeamMoth to guys such as @MothIDUK, @LesHillBC, and @Macgregor_Cal and other will cast their expert eye and help ID it for me. Duncan, the County Moth Recorder, is also at the end of an email if I’m stuck, and it really shows how friendly the #teammoth is that he lent me a large moth trap without having met me and after just a few email exchanges!

Full List 18/08/2015:
Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing 23
Mother of Pearl 1
Brimstone Moth 9
Riband Wave 4
Common/Dark Marbled Carpet 1
Large Yellow Underwing 15
Dark Arches 4
Sallow 1
Small Fan-footed Wave 1
Lesser Yellow Underwing 7
Snout 1
Lesser/Common Rustic 3
Dun-bar 1
July Highflyer 1
Buff Footman 1
Clouded Border 1
Common Carpet 2
Flounced Rustic 2


This morning the moth trap had a couple of aggregate species. These are two or more macromoth species which are impossible to differentiate without dissecting the genitals. As I don’t had a microscope and a tiny pair of tweezers, there’s no way of telling which is which so they just get recorded as “agg”.

This could be a Grey Dagger or a Dark Dagger

And this could be a Common Marbled Carpet or a Dark Marbled Carpet

Elsewhere in the moth trap – AAA WASP AAAAAA

Mother of Pearl, which is technically a Micro Moth despite being bigger than a lot of Macro moths. It had me confused for a long time as it looks a bit like a Wave of some type, and I only have a macro moth book. Luckily the #TeamMoth experts on twitter saved the day!

This was another confusing one, he has his wings drawn up next to his body while my moth book only showed it with wings flat. A lovely Buff Arches

A couple of Slender Brindles


And these two Lesser Broad-Bordered Yellow Underwing having a chat

Full list 14/08/2015:
Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing 33
Large Yellow Underwing 13
Dark Arches 4
Common or Dark Marbled Carpet 1
Brimstone Moth 1
Slender Brindle 2
Dun-bar 3
Riband Wave 3
Sallow 1
Antler Moth 1
Scalloped Oak 2
Small Fan-footed Wave 1
Dotted Clay 1
Grey or Dark Dagger 1
Buff Arches 1
Mother of Pearl 1

A better use for small parks

I took Frank, the German Shepherd, for a walk into town this afternoon. We live a couple of miles outside a fairly bog-standard small Scottish town; it used to be an industrial port but nowadays just has a couple of small ship terminals and not much else. It has a reputation for being a “sh*thole;” sure, the pubs aren’t great, but whenever I walk in, I’m always impressed by the fact that clearly, people love this little place.

There always seems to be someone tending the beautiful flowerbeds, which greet you at the entrance and cheerful flower baskets hang from every railing and shop front. Despite the fact that it’s highly unlikely any tourists come here, there’s half a dozen tourist information boards proudly displaying the history of the town. There’s very little grafitti, and the high street is always full of people chatting and sitting.

This evening, me and Frank enjoyed having a look at a small park that’s been transformed – you know the type, about half an acre of sloping scruffy grass with a tree and dog poo on it, and never really used – into a wildflower meadow. It was beautiful! Such a better use of the space than before, looks gorgeous and, brilliantly, a huge boost to the local wildlife.

 Frank, the wee flower

The intitaitve is by the Council, called Wildfife, turning public spaces, parks and road verges into species-rich wildflower meadows. What a fantastic idea and I really hope it’s maintained for years to come.

I was telling my housemate about the flowers, and she said that she’d been to see them too, and got chatting to an older lady. She told her that the small, grassy park was originally put aside to graze the cattle coming into town for market, and that’s why it never got built upon.


Got a record number of moths in the 150W moth hotel last night – 75 moths of 14 species, mostly Lesser broad-bordered yellow underwings, of which there were 34:

New to the garden was a lovely little Antler Moth:

Also nice to see was this Plain Golden-Y

July High Flyer

Snout Moth

and a small selection here

I’m trying out different locations around the garden each time, last night was next to an overgrown rockery with a big patch of yellow flowers, clearly the Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwings like them! I’m going to try under the apple trees next time.

Full list 12/8/15:
 Common or Lesser Common Rustic 1
 Mottled Beauty 1
 Dark Arches 6
 Plain Golden-Y 1
 Antler Moth 1
 Burnished Brass 1
 July High-flyer 3
 The Snout 1
 Riband Wave 1
 Large Yellow Underwing 17
 Lesser Yellow Underwing 6
 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing 34
 Brimstone Moth 1
 Swallow-tailed Moth 1

RSPB Big Wild Sleepout

The RSPB Big Wild Sleepout is aimed at getting young people out to experience and connect with nature by camping out over night. My friends Lizzie and Ari had oragnised a camp at Earth Ship Fife, and invited me along in the belief that I know stuff about nature.

The highlight of the evening was spotting a barn owl that, on closer inspection, turned out to be a brick. ha! Actually, there were many highlights – bats flying overhead, catching toadlets, toasting marshmallows over the fire, going on a bug hunt, herons strolling by, stumbling over this little chap

a hedgehoggle

It was really great! The kids were aged between 1 and 7, and just as keen and interested as the grown ups. OF COURSE I took my moth trap, and got everyone really excited to discover the world of moths of all sizes and colours!

Typically, then, I just got a load of brown ones – mostly Yellow-underwings and Dark Arches, although this Burnished Brass was very popular:

and with two Common Wainscot, a Brown-line Bright-eye, which I’d not seen before

Last night I put out the big Robinson trap in the garden, and got a small selection, despite it being a great night for moths (and midges!) I think I need to find a better flower patch to put the trap out next to.

A few good ones, new to me, included this Dun-bar moth

and a Lychnis

This Riband Wave has seen better days

As has this Brimstone!

Robinson trap

Duncan, the county moth recorder, very kindly loaned me a Robinson moth trap.

This beast is a 150W bulb moth hotel that, on a good night and well positioned, can “attract 500 – 1000 moths” I put it out next to the buddleia, and got 50 moths! That’s twice the number I usually get in my DIY box.

Although there weren’t any too exciting, it was really nice to get a whole bunch of moths I’d not had in the garden before. The most interesting was this Phoenix moth –

as it rests with the abdomen curled up:

Full list:
Small fan-foot;
Dark Arches;
Plain Golden-Y;
Common white wave;
Light Emerald;
Catoptria pinella;
Burnished Brass;
Brown China Mark;
Eudonia lacustrata ;
The Phoenix;
July High-flyer;
Riband wave;
Poplar Hawk Moth;
Striped wainscot;
Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing;
Flame shoulder;
Swallow-tailed Moth;
Mother of pearl;
Scalloped Oak;
Coxcomb Prominent.

I did have 68 pictures on the camera trap, but when I connected it to the computer it was 67 pictures of me mowing the lawn and one of the cat.

Hotel Lepidoptera

I call the moth trap the “moth hotel” because people assume trapping them means I’m going to kill them, when in fact, they just have somewhere to sleep for the night. Then my housemate started singing Hotel Lepidoptera..

More nice moths this morning – a Light emerald and a Swallow-tailed hanging out together

And this, which was either a Common marbled carpet or a Dark marbled carpet. I’d have to see the underside of the wings to check…

But rather than risk me damaging him, he obligingly lifted them up for me to have a look! Dark marbled carpet, as the middle line has a big kink in it:

The full list:

Mottled beauty;
Light Emerald;
Dark Marbled Carpet;
The Fan-foot;
July High-flyer;
Lesser Yellow Underwing;
Swallow-tailed Moth.

All moths at the minute, I’ve had very little on my cameratrap although I did see a roe and faun run along our lane yesterday!