Hawks and hummingbirds

Hummingbird hawk-moth © Derek Moore

A vibrant blast of violet shouts out alongside a whitewashed wall, the strong evening sunshine highlighting the colour contrast, picking out the shadows as another day drifts to a restful dusk.

I watch a female blackbird busily flicking over leaves in the flower border, in search of a juicy morsel to take back to chittering fledglings in her nearby nest.  My gaze wanders to the horizon of a sweeping Wolds hillside, striped with green hues of ripening crops. My eyes fix skyward towards a kestrel - once known as the stand or stannel hawk in Yorkshire - hovering purposefully above; tail feathers fanned and executing minute movements to hold its position, working in tandem with fast direct wingbeats. The kestrel's head is motionless, eyes down scanning the ground for tell-tale signs of a vole in the grass.

Whilst focussed on the scene, I caught the noise behind me, at first a soft hum but moving closer and louder, until the buzz of an insects wings was all encompassing. I turned to the noise filled and there was another flying acrobat, no less amazing than the kestrel but many times smaller.

Hummingbird hawk-moth © Jon Traill

Hummingbird hawk-moth © Jon Traill

A hummingbird hawk-moth was picking its way along the wall of lavender. Its proboscis curled and then straightened to seek out nectar filled pods at the end of the delicate flower heads. The hum from the speed of those beating wings, also providing it with an aerial dexterity and precision that is hard to fathom. Eye spots glare alarmingly from the side of its head, determined to put off any predators on the lookout for an easy snack. Its small fuzzy body jerked and jived along the line of plants, moving from the violet wall to the dashing pink of the sedum. Occasionally it sky-danced away into the lengthening light, readying itself for another dive bomb attack, headlong into the nectar cloud, with a gentle hypnotic buzz the soundtrack to the scene.

Hummingbird hawk-moth © Derek Moore

Hummingbird hawk-moth © Derek Moore

A world of wildlife encapsulated in a moment’s wing beat. Be it a hawk or a hummingbird, both are masters of their airspace and welcome visitors to my world