Ebernoe Common

/ in Field Trips by Marek
Photo of a path in a woods with bluebells sprouting
Learning the Bluebell Polka

Following our howling success in search of the Barred Tooth-striped moth at Seaford Head we decided that although unsuccessful that time that maybe we should continue to expand our horizons and explore other venues in search of moths unlikely to visit our garden

I had seen Ebernoe Common mentioned with relation to moth sightings on the Sussex site on several occasions and decided that, due to its unique habitat consisting of old wood pasture, it would be a good candidate for a recce with a view for further visits.

I found a detailed five-mile figure of eight route which I plotted on my mapping software and printed it out in addition to its being available on both mobiles.

From experience in the past I had learnt that it is a good idea to have a detailed printed map and compass when walking in woods due to the sometimes-unreliable reception from satellites in canopied areas.

On arrival the discussion turned to whether boots or trainers would be needed as it had been quite sunny for a few days.

Although I had learnt my lesson regarding navigation in woods I had obviously forgotten that they can remain damp for long periods.

Leaving the car park, it became muddier and muddier until deep in the wood it was necessary to walk in the undergrowth to avoid getting wet feet.

I had to put my camera away as although I could cope with wet feet the very idea of falling and submitting my precious camera to a dunking was unimaginable.

This of course made any chance of pictorially recording any moths rather unlikely as the camera was in the bag and my eyes were firmly fixed on where next to put my feet.

Half way round the walk however there is a sanctuary in the form of a rather quaint 17th century hostelry called The Stag Inn where we planned to have lunch.

Photo of the front of The Stag Inn
Not every pub has its own Moth House

On enquiry I learned that the toilets were situated on the outside of the building which is rather unusual nowadays, but a man's got to do what a man's got to do so I dutifully paid them a visit.

As I stood contemplating the second half of the walk I spotted a moth out of the corner of my eye.

The idea of going back into the bar to fetch my camera was probably not going to be the best move as it could draw some unnecessary attention.

Fortunately, I had pot in my pocket so waited until he had finished his ablutions and took him in for lunch with us concealed under my hat as I was unsure as to whether his presence may be frowned upon by the landlady.

Lunch for us was sausage sandwiches and our friend settled for a nectarine.

I had noticed on our exit a table and chairs situated at the back of the pub next to the wood which made the perfect place to take pictures before letting our record fly off to find his friends.

It was only on our return home that we discovered that our record was in fact a new species for us called a Water carpet which just happened to be found in a water closet – spooky or what!

We did return to Ebernoe Common later in the year during a heat wave so there was no issue with mud on the walk and we managed some shots of the Silver-washed Fritillary. Also, when we stopped for lunch I noticed during another pee break a Single-dotted Wave resting on the wall of the toilet and realised that the moths were being attracted to a small neon light gaining access via a ventilation hole next to the ceiling.

I do not think the landlord switched off such a small light at night and had effectively created his own moth trap so I wonder what we will find next visit.