Transition Culture

An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

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I no longer blog on this site. You can now find me, my general blogs, and the work I am doing researching my forthcoming book on imagination, on my new blog.

28 Aug 2015

When the Hummingbird hawk-moth came to visit

Photo: Wikipedia

While my garden has often played host to dear friends or visitors, I can think of very few visitors who were so unexpected, and who brought my family to a respectful and awe-filled silence, as a recent visit by a Hummingbird hawk-moth.  No I hadn’t heard of them either.  

In ‘Feral’, George Monbiot writes beautifully of those moments when nature unexpectedly takes your breath away, brings wonder into your life.  I was sitting in my garden with my wife and son, and suddenly noticed what looked like a tiny hummingbird. It was flying from flower to flower, dipping in its probiscus, busy, busy, but oh so beautiful.  We were all puzzled.  “What on earth is that?”  “Quick, take a photo!” “Where’s my phone?”  That moment of tension between wanting to photograph something but not wanting to leave it in order to look for a camera in case in that time it disappears and you never see it again.  It moved too fast for photographs, all I ended up with were lots of blurry images of our flowers.  I did film it though, here it is:

It didn’t stay long, but the impression it created has.  None of us knew what it was, but when I tweeted the video asking if anyone could tell me what it was, I soon found out.  It is usually only found in warmer climes than Devon, and its Latin name is Macroglossum stellatarum.  It’s a strong flyer though, and often travels northwards, although rarely survives the winter.  I loved the fact, according to Wikipedia, that “it overwinters as an adult in a crevice among rocks, trees, and buildings. On very warm days it may emerge to feed in mid-winter”.  I know a few teenagers like that. 

That such a graceful, beautiful and exotic creature exists at all was a source of great wonder.  That it chose to pop into my garden while I was having lunch was a very special moment.  And this is from someone who still talks in excited tones about the last time hedgehogs paid a visit.  Anything ever turned up in your garden that you might tell your grandchildren about?