Thursday 25 August 2011

Buzzards and Hawks

The morning rain had passed through and the sun had once again put in appearance in the beautiful blue sky, albeit still dotted with the odd fluffy white cloud. The afternoon had finally turned into something nice enough to venture out for a walk with mutt.

No sooner had I got out of the car than I was alerted by the call of a buzzard, in fact, three buzzards jostling with each other high above me. Quickly scanning the sky with my big lens, I was able to grab a couple of shots before they vanished from sight. Moving quickly to a more suitable vantage point at the edge of a stubble field, I hoped they might just venture back into view for a better shot.

I waited but nothing. Not even the 'keee' call but out of the corner of my eye I became aware of something else. Something a lot smaller. Something actually quite substantial for its type though and it was making haste through the stubble. With the big lens on my DSLR, I needed to revert to my G12 and unfortunately had to grapple with a reluctant zip in an attempt to extract it from the small bag I always carry with me. This fumble was taking too long and I was forced to pick up this gallumphing privet hawkmoth caterpillar before it disappeared forever into the leafy field edge.

I knew exactly what the consequences of this action would be - a curled up 'if I stay still that big bird won't get me' pose. The caterpillar should have feared not, as this big bird certainly wasn't going to attempt to eat it and the other big bird wasn't going to get it. Afterall the buzzard had gone and they don't pick off caterpillars as a rule. In fact, all I could hear above me were the last few swallows of summer chattering plans for departure.

Again I found myself waiting, a pastime common for those who enjoy watching nature. This time it was for around twenty guarded minutes. Guarded, as I didn't want mutt haplessly running over the coiled caterpillar thus resetting the 'uncoil timer'

Finally Sphinx ligustri, our largest resident hawkmoth, gathered enough courage to fire up the little engine again and off it motored on its quest to find a safe place to bury itself for the winter, just as I heard a 'keee' overhead.

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