Category: General


I’m like pieces of ice drifting on a lake.
Every so often, little bits collide –
memories, ideas – and just for a moment
I could tell you a little bit of a story.

I like being pieces of ice on a lake.
If they ever ask, tell them my story
is written in the beads at the end of a kaleidoscope.


Totensee, Switzerland, 2013


The flying chrysalis

Spring again – a second Fall
when beech leaves long-attached now fly,
released at last, as bronzèd spears
of new growth stud the branches.

Interspersed, in hedges trim,
the hawthorn offers a million jagged hands,
inviting all who will to enter and
partake of paper-thin and succulent mesophyll.

Unnoticed in the bramble tangle
a golden pigmy clings, tiny bejewelled wings
braced against the April wind, scented.
Waiting for union.

Past the bursting hawthorn and the bramble floats
a brown beech leaf, scarred with kiss-mark
of midget. Still there, an alien doll
flying before it’s flown in all its tiny tiger-striped glory.

130808S3549b Phyllonorycter maestingella

[Edited 11 Dec 2016: new title and punctuation.]

Sunrise at Glencairn Park

The sun peeks through the yew trees

The sun peeks through the yew trees

Black Mountain

Black Mountain

Wooden mitt

Wooden mitt

The snow gradually melts

The snow gradually melts


New camera… and new blog!!!

Samsung WB-100  Sam's Lepidoptera Log - preview

I’m excited!

I’d been gradually becoming aware that, just as it used to happen with shoes, I was growing out of my Olympus X-44 and could use something a bit more powerful. I realised that, as it had turned out, I’d been getting a new camera every two calendar years, and was “due” one this year. So I left the world of compact digital photography behind, and reserved a Samsung WB-100 at Argos at an affordable price.

At home in my bedroom, as I was getting to grips with the camera, a beautiful goldfinch appeared at the garden feeders, the perfect subject to try out my 26x zoom on, and incidentally the first goldfinch that we have ever seen stay in our garden for any substantial length of time. (God likes to show off!)


I am very much looking forward to using the camera on my trip to Switzerland, God willing.

Now, this new blog. First, I’ll tell you what it isn’t – it isn’t the replacement of “The Caterpillar”!!! The “Lepidoptera Log” is going to be pure moth mayhem: I’ll be posting moth and butterfly records from moth trapping, leafmine searches, dusking and hopefully much more!  On Blogger I can post moth sightings with much less hassle than on WordPress, and it will mean that “The Caterpillar” isn’t flooded with moth lists!  Blogger is much easier to use and I can apply a theme I really like. It’s also where most moth-ers blog, so I’ll be much more connected.

Whereas on WordPress, I’ll stay connected to you readers with a general interest in nature and photography! And now that I have the capability of photographing birds at long distance, there’ll be more of them around here all being well.

You can follow the Log at

Angle Shades

Angle Shades, icon of the Log!


Happy New Year!



The wallflower is flowering by the wall, the daffodils and tulips are shooting up, and the days are starting to get longer.

So by my definition, spring is underway! Hope this picture conveys a sense of the rich, joyful energy of new life bursting forth.

(Life which includes moths!!! I’ve had the trap out for the past few nights, as it’s been mild, and caught nothing, but I’ll keep trying – there are some species flying at this time of year.)

I’m looking forward to all the experiences 2013 will bring – one of which is (hopefully) university! Another thing I’m looking forward to is not spending my summer watching terns through a telescope! (Don’t ask.)

I wonder if 2013 can be any more moth-tastic than was 2012 – my moth year list came to 273 species!! I have, amongst others, Catherine Bertrand, Andrew Crory and Ted Rolston to thank for some memorable mothy moments. Hopefully it’ll be better on the butterfly front this year – nationally last year was quite poor for butterflies, and I didn’t see as many as usual myself.

I learned some lessons in 2012 too. Like, when you open your mind to new ideas and perspectives, a whole truckload of bs falls in along with the gold dust you’re after. (I’ll say no more.) There were plenty more lessons – some I haven’t unwrapped yet.

Anyway, you can expect more sporadic, spontaneous, randomsocks writing from The Caterpillar in 2013! (Including the return of The Planets!)


The internet’s very quiet about what happened on Friday.

Zebra spider, 25 June 2011

Every end precedes a new beginning – ask this zebra spider!

There wasn’t a massive solar flare.
The Earth didn’t get battered up by a rogue planet called Nibiru.
There were no spectacular planetary or stellar alignments.
And there definitely wasn’t a sudden global “awakening”.

Plenty of people did a Chicken Little and lost their heads, while the Mayans celebrated the new baktun, the Prime Minister played table football on a visit to Afghanistan, and the US Food and Drugs Administration approved a genetically modified salmon for sale in stores.

A pretty average day at the zoo, on the surface anyway.

Have a peaceful time with your families this Christ-mass, and take time to remember, muse on and give thanks for the massive act of Love 2000 years ago that changed humanity forever.

I guess not too many moth bloggers have to contend with exams, which are the reason why I haven’t been updating le blog for the past few weeks. But at 3:00 tomorrow afternoon, my last exam (Chemistry) ends and I’m off for –


When that happens, expect the blog to be once more filled with marvellous moths, scrumptious science, cute chicks, theme tunes, and all the usual off-the-wall remarks.

In the meantime, I thought I’d lighten the pre-chemistry atmosphere on the network today…


…get it? nucleophilic subsitution 1? no?

I’m aware that I haven’t been doing any astronomy posts lately – either because I don’t have anything to write about or because I can’t be bothered.

More likely the latter.

But I did a quick search and found a blog that gives monthly forecasts on sky events: Sky-Watching.

Events for April 2012 are at

Jupiter, Venus, Mars and Saturn can all be seen in the evening sky (from western to eastern horizon respectively). There is also a reasonably good meteor shower this month: the Lyrids. If you get a clear sky on the night of Saturday 21, take half an hour to look up. It’s a good opportunity to see a ‘shooting star’ if you’ve never seen one before!

Actually… I have been taking the odd photo of the sky. If you missed the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter last month… well, so did I thanks to cloud. But here’s a photo of what the planets looked like a few weeks before. Jupiter (top left) gradually moved down and to the right as the evenings progressed, while Venus kind of did a U-turn, and they met in the middle.

Jupiter, Venus and the Moon, 24 Feb 2012

Jupiter, Venus and the Moon, 24 Feb 2012

Currently Jupiter is quite low in the western sky in the evening, but Venus is still high and dry.

New Blavatar

Ruby Tiger, 20 Feb 2010

I’ve been doing some fiddling about with widgets, categories and lists, plus this new blog image. Hope you liiiike!

Taking advantage

This is a photo of some seagulls. SEAGULLS, I SAY.

Lately I’ve noticed that the most popular post on this blog has been “The next best thing to a Long-tailed Duck“.

What a nice pattern.

I would be overjoyed to know that people are finally taking an interest in Long-tailed Ducks.

Epileptics beware.

Although there is the very slight possibility…

This is the most interesting thing I saw today.



2012 TITANORAKS: 1.8 million