Wel­come vis­i­tor hov­ers in

Middlesbrough Herald & Post - - HERALD & POST -

ONE of the wildlife high­lights of a for­eign hol­i­day is the sight of a hov­er­ing hum­ming­bird drink­ing nec­tar from a flower head.

The next best for us Teessiders is to re­ceive a visit from that most amaz­ing of in­sects, the hum­ming­bird hawk­moth.

This ap­pears to have been an­other good year for this breath­tak­ing hawk­moth, which is un­mis­take­able when you chance upon one. David Pye took this ex­cel­lent photo of a hum­ming­bird hawk­moth close to the dor­mant blast fur­nace at Red­car, feed­ing on red va­le­rian.

Ge­off Brown from Mid­dles­brough has also seen one on the bud­dleia in his gar­den.

I’ve just checked the stats and dis­cov­ered that hum­ming­bird hawk­moths beat their wings at 80 times a sec­ond, which en­ables them to hover in the same po­si­tion when feed­ing.

They are not of­fi­cially a Bri­tish species. The hum­ming­bird hawk­moths which we spot have flown over from the Con­ti­nent.

How­ever there is a the­ory that they may be about to colonise the United King­dom. Re­search is tak­ing place to dis­cover whether some hum­ming­bird hawk­moths are spend­ing the win­ter snug­gled up in our green­houses and out­houses.

Hum­ming­bird hawk- moth cater­pil­lars feed on a diet of the dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties of bed­straw. We’ve cer­tainly got that in abun­dance in Bri­tain.

Those hum­ming­bird hawk­moths which are cur­rently with us will hang around un­til Septem­ber, so you’ve got time to spot one.

I’m still wait­ing to see my first hum­ming­bird hawk­moth of the year, but on a coun­try walk on a sunny day in County Durham last week I en­joyed watch­ing lots of but­ter­flies, in­clud­ing red admi- rals, meadow browns and cab­bage whites.

In fact a red ad­mi­ral flew into my car when I was about to leave and, even with all the doors and win­dows open, it was a while be­fore the crea­ture fi­nally flew out.

The walk was en­joy­able, though what was off-putting was that every time I crossed a coun­try road I al­ways seemed to spot a dead hedge­hog.

The road car­nage ap­pears to be get­ting worse. In say­ing that I ac­cept that hedge­hogs do not help them­selves by rolling up into a ball at the prospect of ap­proach­ing dan­ger.

When driv­ing, I try to avoid ev­ery­thing on the road, in­clud­ing empty crisp pack­ets.

It’s a pity that, as a race of car driv­ers, we can’t be more dili­gent and fo­cused be­cause hedge­hog num­bers are con­tin­u­ing to drop at an alarm­ing rate.

Eric would like to hear from readers about what they have seen. Email him at eric.pay­lor@gmail.com

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