links from Moths and the Media talk

Here are the links to many of the websites referred to in the “Moths and the Media” talk I gave in Newbury on 19 May 2009, for Butterfly Conservation and BBOWT, and again for Moths Count at the South Wales Moth Recorders’ Gathering, September 2009.

Many of the links, including most of the ‘serious’ mothing identification sites and online resources for moth recorders, have already been listed in my previous post on this subject and aren’t repeated here. The ones that are new:

Additional mothing sites

Online mapping and grid references

  • Where’s the path – OS maps and Google aerial photos side-by-side (this site has recently moved URL)
  • Grab a grid reference – excellent innovation from Keith Balmer for Bedfordshire Natural History Society, displays grid reference squares at various resolutions over Google maps and aerials (works throughout UK)

Moth-related blogs (a small and fairly random selection from among many)

Moth miscellany

moths and … contemporary music

In a former life I spent ten years as a professional musician (trombonist and composer), specialising in the further outreaches of contemporary classical music. The kind of stuff that gets dismissed as “squeeky-gate”. It’s what I’ve enjoyed listening to since I was a teenager.

My ‘favourite composer’ all this time has been Harrison Birtwistle, who writes music that is joyously, gratuitously dissonant and beautiful. As well as performing his music whenever I got the chance, I was a full-on fan, collecting his printed music and getting him to sign it for me.

There is definitely an elemental feel to his music, some of which is explicitly based around the idea of landscapes (Silbury Air being a prime example), and it has always felt in keeping with my love for the natural world. But I didn’t realise until I read it in last Saturday’s Guardian that I share another interest with Birtwistle, namely a fascination with moths. Apparently, Birtwistle has collected moths since he was 13:

Moths are magical – you can never see them until you trap them. I have an idea to write a requiem for all the species of moth that are extinct, using their Latin names.

From almost anyone else that would sound an unpromising idea for a piece of music, but I bet Birtwistle could make something of it. Can’t wait to find out what.

[Photograph of Silbury Hill by Greg O’Beirne]

analysing county moth datasets

County moth datasets tend to be large and ‘messy’ affairs – messy in the sense that they are large aggregations of data from a variety of sources, collected using a variety of methods. Some people will run a mercury vapour trap all night long in their garden, several times a week; others will run an occasional actinic trap for a few hours on a nature reserve; others will just send in a few sightings of moths they’ve found by day. Is it possible to draw any overall conclusions about which moths are increasing or decreasing from this mass/mess of data?

In an attempt to look at this for the Berkshire moth database, I’ve set up some user queries for use in MapMate that compare numbers of records and of individuals of particular species against total numbers for the year. Full details and a download of the queries are here on my kitenet website. Here are the resulting graphs for Mottled Rustic, currently doing very poorly in Berkshire:

moths on the web – news update

Positioned somewhere on the sublime–ridiculous scale …

Not being too familiar with Killer Moth I consulted this review, “What is there to say about Killer Moth? He’s probably second only to Kite-Man as Batman’s goofiest foe … Killer Moth is a fairly standard figure, but his wings push his rating up a little higher.”