Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Fidgety Phil

I don't think I've ever seen a Humming-bird Hawk moth at rest and my experience of them goes back more than half-a-century to when I caught one which was nectaring on lavender at a guesthouse in Manorbier near Tenby where we were on holiday.  It didn't last long because the landlady was a tidiness fetishist and thought that my dead insects were rubbish, so threw them out. Never mind, I was to see plenty more H-b Hs later on in life.

Most have been abroad and I have spent happy but largely frustrating hours trying to photograph them as they zoom about and then whirr above flowerheads in constant motion, just like the birds whose name they take. Whatever the blurring, though, it is excellent to watch them sipping their drinks with their enormously long, uncoilable tongues. This one which I found in our greenhouse this morning was at rest, however. Permanently. Sadly it had died before any of us realised that it had got in.

The brighter side of this small tragedy was that I could photograph it in detail and here are some of the results. Doesn't the tongue remind you of those spiral liquorice sweets?

I also append a couple of more traditional H-b H photos, the first in France by my excellent niece Jessie who regularly supplies me with butterfly and moth pictures from all over the world; and the other two, including the one with the mystical shaft of Heavenly light, by myself on Paxos in Greece.

This is the first H-b H I've recorded in the UK since starting light-trapping in 2005 although they are regularly found in the summer when they fly over from the continent. This is especially true in southern England but I was sent a picture of one in Yeadon, just outside Leeds, a couple of years ago. Intrepid little creatures. RIP.


Countryside Tales said...

Fascinating stuff. You know, the pic that made me look most closely was the one with the wings closed, because it looks much more moth-like from that view than when flying. I've yet to see one at home this summer- you may remember we had one last year- but I did see one at a local reserve, way back in march. Lovely creatures and very sad yours died, but nice to see the photos all the same.

Martin Wainwright said...

Hi there CT!

They're a real treat aren't they. I agree about the pic too - that's how the moth looked when I first spotted it on a windowsill and wondered what on earth it was. Only the tail sticking out gave it away. Thanks for the Six-striped ID today too; I'm baffled by small brown and grey ones, permanently I fear. All warm wishes, M