I seem to be doing ok with this new interest in moths I've suddenly developed!! All this in the garden with a torch!!... can't wait to get a moth trap and have a proper look at what I've got here!!... :-)
This is even more difficult (and interesting) than I ever imagined!!
Well Episcophagus, I've studied both Festucae & Putnami markings and I can see different similarities to both!!! That's really confused me! (I know it doesn't take a lot! LOL)
Ummmm, what to do next as I can't single out either of them!?......
Well, after trying everyithing (which I'm sure you haven't yet), there remains only one alternative: to give up...
A difference that you may have missed on this page (that is mentioned in my book on Noctuidae, and thus ought to be valid) is the shape of the outer edge of the forewing just behind the apex, which is convex (i.e. bulges outward) in festucae, but somewhat concave (bulges inward) in putnami (the apex of putnami thus appears more "pointed").
A thing that speaks heavily in favour of festucae is the time of the year,
I agree with Episcophagus (and nice link btw), they are VERY similar and the only reliable way to have a definitive ID would be to have it sent to someone for dissection, I am in no way suggesting that mind you.
There are however a few reasons this is more likely to be P. festucae, the most compelling would be the lack of previous records in Somerset both on the Somerset Moth Group site and National Biodiversity Network Gateway site for P. putnami, they are generally a northern species although there are a few scattered records in the south and what would seem a good few colonies in East Anglia. That's not to say its impossible to get a rare beast in your garden, it most certainly is.
The photos above would be very difficult to be 100% about an ID, but the smaller spots of P. festucae tend to be elliptical or tear shaped, which I believe these are, where as more round in P. putnami, the white at the tip/apex of the wing seems to cross over the 'cross line' with white scales toward the termen, which end abruptly in P. putnami at the 'cross-line'.
But really what does all that mean for you, well for official records (ones you want to send off to your county recorder), you'll need to send him/her photos and let them make the call. If you get into moths and get a trap this won't be your last questionable ID on species, there are many that can only be reliably ID'd by putting them to the chop, which is something I personally avoid (they don't care what they are..lol).
For your own use and for things like Flickr you may want to note that the ID is 'probably' or 'likely' to be etc.. or a good representation of this species or that species if they are ones that need the chop to be 100%.
Hope this all helps, and "Ummmm, what to do next as I can't single out either of them!?......" < Have fun!
Thank you so much to both of you, your replies are an education to me!!
I actually submitted the pictures to the chairperson of my local wildlife group who is up on this sort of thing having studied all wildlife etc in my village and surrounding areas for many many years and know his stuff! His shout is for a festucae which does get seen around here and concures with the comments relating to Somerset etc.
I have to say that this is all rather interesting and I've only just started!! Apologies in advance but I do feel that we will speak again on here very soon, probably due to the very next moth I see!! LOL.....
Once again many thanks to both of you for your very kind patience and toleration of 'keen' novice!