There has been a lot of exciting birds on the move recently so its easy to get fixated on finding more, but autumn comes to other groups too, none less so that the moths.
Last night shortly before 7pm, it was getting dusk so I was out putting the moth trap on. Adjusting the auto timer anyway. As I stepped out of the door, a large moth buzzed past me below waist height . It flew the length of my car and I lost it as it left the beam of the head lamp.
I knew it could only be one thing at this time of year - a Convolvulous Hawk-moth.
Jane came out to help me look for it. We have one or two 'last-legs' nicotiana flowers hanging on in the garden so we checked these first. My initial sighting was at a planter near our door that has a couple left in. We wandered around but there was no sign. There was clearly an arrival of Silver Y moths on other plants, but no biggie.
Jane went in to finish tea. I was about to give up then thought how there were very few flowers suitable for a hawk-moth in our village right now, so it might be worth another lap, it might just come back?
In the front garden I slowly checked along the house windows with the torch. Nothing. Then I heard a buzzing behind me. I turned and there it was! A lovely Convolvulous Hawk-moth at the nicotianas! We have planted these for 10 years for this very reason but have had no luck until now. If you saw the One Show the other night, they did a piece on these moths and how they come to flowers along the south coast of England. Northumberland is a long way north, so to get a Convolvulous is a red-letter day indeed.
Over the years I have seen several. My first was at our old house where it was attracted to an outside light so I got a sweeping brush, reached up high, and persuaded it into the bedroom window. We also found one randomly on the hub cap of a Vauxhall Astra in a pub car park at Blakeney, Norfolk one year while we were on a holiday, and we saw a few at Portland Bird Obs moth trap too, but to get a nice one in our garden is still amazing...
After a few flash lit photos we placed him, it was a male, back into the nicotiana thicket and left him to continue what time he has left...
That moth is every bit as good as the Great Grey Shrike!