Thursday 9 July 2015

The Hummingbird in the Valerian

This magnificent beast deserves a post all to itself...

I was running through Hawton village, and came to what I think of as the house on bumblebee corner, where earlier in the year a lungwort brought in the bees for me to photograph ineptly. Now the lungwort is gone, and the house instead is a riot of deep red valerian . I was hoping to see something there, but was not prepared for what I did see.

Looking uncannily a winged house mouse, a wonderful hummingbird hawk moth was working the flower heads for nectar, its tongue fully outstretched and longer than the moth's body! It's furry body is marked with a prominent "face" and "eyes" at the end of the abdomen, probably to fool potential predators it is looking at them while it is feeding and vulnerable.

For it does indeed fly like a humming bird, wings blurring under bright sun, hovering before flowers while that incredible tongue is deployed to feed - apparently red valerian is one of its favoured food plants. It was so tame, it was crazy. I watched it at close range for at least ten minutes, spoiling my run time, but making up for it with this stunning encounter.

It really is a special creature. My first one, and I was thrilled.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 09.07.15


  1. Excellent encounter, surprised you managed to keep a steady hand, brilliant photo's.

  2. Nice find Simon.

    I haven't seen one for a few years.

  3. Fantastic! I'm waiting for ours to appear :o)

  4. Thanks for the comments folks, just wish I had a better camera to do this justice!

  5. Have been going through your posts, have been very bad at commenting and keeping up with everyone's news !
    Had to stop and comment on this one, I'm so jealous you got to see this moth, I would be very happy with these shots...
    Amanda xx

  6. Too blurry! Hopefully next month, I go up in the world camera wise