Hummingbird in Porthcawl

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Recently I was lucky enough to come face to face with my very first hummingbird hawk-moth.

Sat outside in my garden during the summer (remember - it was back in June) I'd already spotted a peregrine and gull duelling, high up in the blue skies above, when something caught my eye, hovering over flowers on the other side of the garden - a bee perhaps?

I instantly thought of the BBC Bee Part of It campaign and I darted inside to grab my camera hoping to get a nice shot to add to our Welsh bee gallery.

But as I approached what I think are red valerian (I'm not good on plant identification!) growing out of an old stone wall, I was surprised to see what can only be described as a hummingbird?!

I've actually seen hummingbird in the flesh - on the edge of a rain forest in Ecuador, just for a fleeting second.

It was incredibly small and fast and could easily have been mistaken for a dragonfly. I literally had time to fire off two shots in sports mode; managing to capture it in one photo as a blur of wings, before it vanished.

This little moth was no different - three shots later and it was gone.

I'd only ever seen photographs of hummingbird hawk moths before and was surprised at how small they were, compared to other hawk moths which can have wingspans of up to 13 cm in some extreme cases such as the oleander hawk-moth.

The moth's body was around 2 cm long and browny/grey in colour with flashes of orange on the wings. It also had a really long black proboscis (tongue) and clearly defined eyes with rings around them.

Apparently they have some sort of memory - returning to the same flower beds each day throughout summer but I've not seen mine since, so I'd questioned that theory.

If you've seen one this year - add your sighting to the butterfly conservation survey. Mine is now registered on there too.

Watch a video of a hummingbird hawk-moth on the BBC Wildlife Finder.


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