Ourapteryx sambucaria – One would be forgiven for thinking this is a butterfly. This is a large pale lemon moth with a wingspan of 40-50mm. It has distinctive pointed hindwings with two reddish-brown spots on the bases. There are darker cross-lines on the forewings and hindwings. The colours fade as it gets older and it becomes whiter. The adult flies June to mid-August. It is attracted to light, and is found in woodland, hedgerows, parks and gardens. A fairly common and widespread species. The larvae feed on various broadleaved trees and shrubs.
Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, June 2014. Nikon D3200 © Peter Hillman
Also called the ‘Barn Swallow’, they are small birds with steel-blue back plumage, whitish to buff underparts, chestnut coloured throats and forehead, and dark blue-black chest-bands. They have deeply forked streamers, the females being slightly shorter. Similar to the House Martin (Delichon urbica) and Swift (Apus apus).
They feed on the wing, flying low to catch flying insects like flies. The nest is open-topped mad of mud and straw built on a beam in an outbuilding like a shed or barn. The female lays 4 to 6 eggs in 2 or 3 broods from April to August. They can live for up to 5 years.
Seen March to October, and found where there is ample supply of aerial insects, like pastureland with a supply of water like ponds, and farmland with hedgerows. Swallows arrive from their winter stay in Africa in spring. Common and widespread, it has an RSPB amber status due to fluctuations in numbers over the last 30 years leading to a decline across Europe.
Swallows are one of the most agile and graceful fliers with swoops, dives, rolls and swerves.
Photographs of Swallow (Hirundo rustica), taken July 2013, local field, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2013. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.