Remember how I wrote yesterday about some days being magical: first I was mobbed by Red admirals, next I discovered the Ivy bee colony and marvelled at its mating antics, and then, la pièce de résistance, I saw my very first Humming-bird hawk-moth.
And, by golly, it was difficult to photograph. I took around 70 pictures but most are a blur because, like the bird it’s named after, this moth just does not keep still. Macroglossum stellatarum is its formal name, and it came to Britain originally from Africa and southern Europe. The adult moths can be seen flying any time from April to late November, at which time they start looking for a crevice in a building, a hole in a wall, or a handy crack in a tree to while away the winter months.
That super-long tongue allows them to specialise in feeding from tube-shaped flowers like the Echiums, though this one was enjoying the nectar of Red valerian plants growing along the high-tide line at a local beach, humming (its wings) as it hovered from one flower to the next. Incredibly, studies have shown that Humming-bird hawk-moths often return to the same flowers at the same time every day. So, it’s a moth that looks like a bird but has the memory of an elephant – simply amazing!