The Whitlingham Bird Report for 2016 is now available to download here.

The previous reports are also availble: 2015 here,
2014 report here and the 2013 report here. Thanks to everyone who has contributed sightings, information and photos to these reports.

You may also be interested in Chris Durdin's Thorpe Marsh Wildlife Report for 2016, which is available

SUFFOLK: Death's-head Hawk Moth!

13th September 2015

If you are given a book of moths to flick through and asked to pick a few that you would like to see, then I would suggest there is a high likelihood that one of the ones you would pick is the Death's-head Hawk Moth. Not only is it big, spectacularly marked and rare, it has also entered the popular consciousness as a result of featuring on the DVD cover of Silence of the Lambs and as an omen of death. Being a rare migrant to Britain, your chances of catching one, even if you regularly moth trap are rather slim. 

I was having my lunch on Sunday when I saw on Twitter that a Death's-head Hawk Moth had been caught overnight in Westleton. I admired the photos, but thought little of it until there was a follow-up message that it was being taken to Minsmere from 14:30 and would be available to see until the visitors centre closed. Given the limited opportunities to see one I was keen to go, and luckily Cathy wanted to go too. I went out and hurriedly did the shopping before we set off for Minsmere. 

As we drove towards Suffolk it started raining heavily, which slowed our journey slightly, but we made good progress and reached Minsmere at about three. On arrival the moth had been taken to cool down as it had started fluttering, but after around 20 minutes the Death's-head Hawk Moth was brought back, perched on a Silver Birch log. It seemed unpurterbed by the attention from admirers and photographers, and everyone present at the time managed to get a good look at it. Our thanks go to Clive who trapped it, Matthew who tweeted instructions and the staff at Minsmere for accommodating the extra visitors.


  1. Excellent catch! I've been putting out the trap over the past few days (when it's not been raining) but so far nothing of note. However I flushed a red underwing at Cantley the other day and after it settled got a few decent shots and found a nice cluster of buff tip larvae on your patch at Whitlingham last Tuesday. When I get round to it I'll incorporate them into a post. Cheers.

    1. Good stuff, I've seen a Buff-tip moth at Whitlingham but not seen the caterpillars. I'll keep an eye out for your blog post.
      Regards, James.

  2. Colour me VERY jealous, James! Fabulous creature!

    1. Yep, it was very impressive and well worth the twitch. A couple of caterpillars have been seen in Norfolk this year, so there may still be one waiting to be found in the county...