Welcome visitor hovers in
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 firstname.lastname@example.org