I must admit that, at first sight, this object, which was lying on a dirt path in a paddock in my local country park, had me completely baffled. I even poked it with the toe of my shoe, thinking it might be poo. But, once I looked closer, I could see the outline of wings and realised it was an empty cocoon. But of what?
Once I got home, I checked through the pupa images on Peter Eeles’s excellent UK Butterflies website but nothing seemed to fit. So, I posted photos of my find on Twitter and asked the man himself for help. Peter very quickly identified the cocoon as that of an Elephant hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor), a beautiful creature that I’ve not yet seen (click on the moth’s name to see a picture on the UK Moths website). At least now I know they can be found nearby.