Friday, 2 August 2013

A Hummingbird Hawkmoth Visits The Garden, Wood Walks With Mrs Massey and The Tomato Thief Is Caught Red Beaked

I had planned to do a Moth Post today on the recent visitors to the box but I'm afraid that has been blown out of the water because I am Far Too Excited about someone who's just come into the garden. So excited, in fact, that after I'd seen him I rushed inside and rang my husband at work to Tell Him All About It. I rather suspect from his tone of voice that he was in a meeting again, in which case his colleagues will be forming a very distinct impression of me which probably isn't entirely favourable and no doubt involves the quiet and sympathetic muttering of words such as "rather eccentric" and "poor man."
When I had calmed down (which was some considerable time later) I remembered that Not Everyone Shares My Excitement About Moths, and sent a text to apologise for the slightly breathy bordering on hysterical call. He, being the absolute lovely man he is, replied that he was thrilled for me that I'd seen something so beautiful that meant so much. He may regret that later because it's done absolutely nothing to dissuade me from calling him again when the next Incredible Wildlife Occasion Happens.

Before this I had also pinched my son's cheeks and picked him up and swirled him around. This is dangerous for three reasons. 1) He is getting heavy, 2) I have an old injury to my spine that relates to a powerful motorbike, a rather exciting boyfriend and a pothole, which is exacerbated by lifting awkward weights, and an eleven year old who does not necessarily wish to be lifted consititues an awkward weight, and 3) Any form of cheek pinching these days tends to provoke violence and is therefore not to be undertaken lightly. But this was not a moment for caution! So I pinched his cheeks again and he biffed me before saying: "What is the matter with you?!" So I said: "I have seen a Moth!" and he said, very seriously but with a twinkle that belies his inherent humour: "Mum, I think you have got a problem. You need to go to the Moth Addicts Department at the hospital." "Ah," I said, shaking my finger at him. "Very clever. I see what you have done there. MAD." And he grinned, before telling all his friends who were listening invisibly on Skype that his mother was driving him Mad With Moths. 

I got quite a shock the first time I heard seven different voices all at different pitches and all talking at once coming from the study when I was pretty certain I'd only seen L go in there. But now I have learnt that all teen and pre-teen boys skype one another constantly while playing minecraft and I have stopped jumping as "Hello L's Mum!" comes booming out of the computer from several different invisible people whenever I walk by.

I also chair danced and sang along to Capital Radio for good measure after seeing this Amazing Visitor (I am forced to listen to Capital Radio whenever L is in the car with me, although this time it was probably better that Radio 4 say, which is hard to bounce along to when you're happy and indeed close to bursting). I sang at the top of my voice all the way to Waitrose, which is  distance of some 3 miles, to let the emotion out otherwise I think I would have burst. Some of the other car drivers looked at me with pity, others with admiration, clearly wishing they too could be as liberated and Unconcerned By Public Reaction, while L merely rolled his eyes and wriggled further down in his seat so no-one could see him. It was at about this point that I made up a Moth Song which went something like "I think Moths are really great, but my son does not agree; I could watch Moths all day long but he'd eat them for his tea." 
His version was a lot less polite and less positive too and involved a Great Deal of swearing so I won't repeat it here.

What was the cause of this Great Excitement I hear you cry? (except of course you don't need to because the Answer is in the title and you are all Clever People who will have already worked it out, but I shall tell you anyway ha ha!)
IT WAS A HUMMINGBIRD HAWKMOTH wot I have wanted to see for AGES and AGES!!!!!!!

I couldn't quite believe my eyes because at first I thought it was a hornetty type person, but as I got nearer (with camera in hand because these days it is surgically attached) I realised what I was seeing. It was the most spellbinding ten minutes I have spent in a very long time, just watching him feeding, first at the runner bean plants, and then among the Jasmine flowers.

I despaired of getting any clear photos initially because he was small (about half the size of my thumb) and darting around Like Mad and I was torn between watching him with my own eyes and trying to get a record on the camera in case that was it and he disappeared, but then he settled at the jasmine and fed from one particular plant for long enough for me to focus the camera and get some pictures. The wings are blurred of course because, just like a real hummingbird, they move constantly at a tremendous speed to keep the moth still enough to feed. 

I expect only the fellow moth and wildlife enthusiasts among you will understand my euphoria at seeing this moth. To me he is an example of the Miracle Of Nature and I'm still so excited I don't think I'm going to be able to sleep tonight, which is not Great News as I've only just recovered from the sleep deprivation worrying about the moth-children gave me earlier in the week.

Right, I'll try and calm down now and impart the rest of our news. 

The Tomato Thief has been apprehended. She didn't have a leg to stand on in the end because she was caught Red Beaked IN THE GREENHOUSE. Here is photographic proof...

Yes. As suspected, it was The Blackbird's Child All Along, and she wasn't remotely apologetic and has even started to eat the peppers for good measure. Teddy found her and gave her a sound telling off, but I don't expect it to make any difference at all. L has offered to be her Barrister when it comes to court, for which he will no doubt issue a Fat Fee if his hoovering is anything to go by.

The Cabbage White Children are all doing well, apart from trying to escape this morning. I managed to find them all dotted around the house and put them back in their pot and now there is a muslin cloth over the top sealing off the exit. Naughty Caterpillar Children. Clearly I am going to have my hands full with them.

I met up with my dear friend Mrs Massey to walk the dogs in the woods this morning. It was raining but we didn't let that stop us because we are Hardy Souls and besides, we were long overdue a natter. We are both interested in native plants and so our walk was interspersed with examinations of various leaves and blooms, and photos being taken. 

 Mrs M with Ted and his best mate Oscar

 Common Birdsfoot Trefoil

Hairy St John's Wort
(well done Mrs M, you were spot on with this one)


Hemp Agrimony

Rowan, or Mountain Ash

White Vetch
(which is also rather charmingly called Grass Pea or Chickling Vetch)

Tufted Vetch

Wild Mint

Mrs Massey is currently making a Feathered Head Dress (as you do) and as Mavis has now ended her record-breaking broody stint and is moulting, I scooped up her feathers and handed them over...

 I'll end with this picture of a wet bee, which for some unaccountable reason I find very funny....

Right, I'm off to sit in a quiet room and compose myself (which is a total lie- I'm actually going back out into the garden to see if I can find the Hummingbird Hawkmoth again).

Till next time,

CT :-)


  1. So let me get this straight...the visitor to your garden that caused such paroxysms of joy and excitement was a moth. And not Colin Firth?


    (P.M (which stands for Post Moth)... I am with you on the hilarity value of a soggy bumble. Second only, I think, to a soggy hen.)

    1. Mr Firth could turn up naked and I would not enjoy the sight so much as the Hummingbird Hawkmoth. I did say only fellow moth enthusiasts (note the word "enthusiast" here, and not the words "weirdo" or "fanatic") would be able to comprehend my excitement.

      Soggy hens, yes! Hugely funny too, poor things x

  2. HI CT Well I did enjoy this post and also Denise's comments. Glad you caught the tomato thief, she does look at bit guilty. The bee in the last shot looks angry and I think it is saying, "Well, what are you looking at, have you never seen a soggy bee before?"

    1. I think you are right Margaret, he does look pretty fierce which is what makes me laugh, that and being somewhat damp! CT :-)

  3. Excellent pics! I've spent ages stalking HBH moths on Greek island holidays and not done as well. Your account also brings back distant memories of seeing my first, in the garden of our holiday B&B at Tenby whose landlady had a great dislike of moths. All v best and hope you get more. The Bee Hawkmoths are almost lovelier, with green and maroon velvety waistcoats

    1. I'm still smiling to myself today. I hope I never lose that sense of wonder and euphoria at seeing fabulous wild things (can't see it happening, it's lasted 40 years!). They are such amazing creatures and now I am going to be keeping an eye out for the bee versions having studied them in the book yesterday and reading your comment about them too :-)

  4. How wonderful for you, a fabulous moth and great images for us too. I get very excited at new things in the garden-it's just the way I am.

    1. I knew you'd understand Suze :-) I suspect my family think I'm slightly mad, but as a happy person I'm not too worried!!

  5. I understand your excitement, too. It's fantastic that you saw the moth and got those lovely pics of it feeding - I haven't seen one here for years. I love all the wildflowers you saw on your walk as well. Naughty blackbird - she does look very unrepentant. And the bee is wonderful, it looks as though it has paused for your camera.

    1. I think if you're interested in the natural world there is nothing more exciting, magical or spellbinding than seeing something in the flesh you've only ever seen in photographs before. I will never forget it, and hope he comes back!
      Blackbird, yes, totally unrepentant, and that poor bee gave me the giggles for ages when I downloaded the pic! :-)

  6. Well done CT and very exciting :) I would have been over the moon too :) Never seen Hummingbird Hawkmoths in England only on Jersey years ago. I shall be checking flowers in my garden even more thoroughly now!!!

    1. If it's any help, I at first thought it was a kind of large fly, possibly a hornet, and it was only when I got close I realised who he was. It's easily one of my best wildlife experiences, along with the snake and various small fluffy creatures coming voluntarily into the house :-)

  7. Fantastic!!! I am so excited for you!! Usually we get them here in our garden and I get extremely excited, but they haven't graced our garden yet this year. You got some fabulous photos of it too! Such an incredible charming moth :)

    Love the soggy bee!

    1. That, along with the snake, is my wildlife highlight for the year. I'm so chuffed I managed to get the pictures because I haven't seen him since :-)


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x