Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Guest gallery

The sun is out this morning and shining brightly, but it poured during the night. So, no light trap; and although a Lesser Yellow Underwing crept indoors and spent the night on the stairs, I think we had enough of them yesterday. Luckily my reporting colleague on the Guardian, James Sturcke, who now runs a photography agency in Spain, has dropped me an email with the irresistible header: 'I saw this moth and thought of you.'

Here it is: a magnificent, newly-hatched Atlas moth which James and his family saw on holiday at a butterfly (and moth) park in Normandy. I really like those places. Last year I went with young cousins to the one in Bristol Zoo and the children in particular get a real sense of the wonderful colour and grace of insects on the wing.  Nearby, close-up and personal too. In Normandy, they also add insect transfers or face-paintings to the children themselves - here is a detail of the one on Nick Sturcke, James's eldest, who was there with his brother Tobias. I wonder if they speculated, as I do, on the faces in profile on the moth's forewing points. These lead some people to call the Atlas the Snake's Head moth in its native South East Asia.  They look to me more like rather unhappy birds. You can see more of James' excellent work btw  on www.sturcke.org

I've also had this nice follow-up picture from Richard Theobald, one of the team responsible for the beautiful churchyard there which you can read about a few posts below. According to the church treasurer Pat Johnson, Mary Theobald's tray-bake is also crucial to the gardeners' morale and success. Bees are clearly enjoying the scabius as much as the butterflies. I keep reading and hearing about the supposed crisis affecting bees, but in my experience they are everywhere (although Richard says that this photo was taken a bit since).

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