Hummingbird Hawk Moth – 3 Jul 06
Waiting for the bus, conveniently outside the house, we’re inspecting the shrubs that grow over the wall, debating how far they need to be trimmed back to prevent decapitation of passing pavement cyclists, and how high they need to be cut back off the ground to prevent dogs using the convenient cover as – well, a 'convenience' – when we notice something strange in the honeysuckle.
A hummingbird hawkmoth. Flashing subliminal terracotta red hindwings, soft beige and black-and-white-striped body, hovering beside the flowers, extending its long proboscis like a refuelling probe on a fighter aircraft connecting with the tanker, it moves with delicate precision.
Is this an indicator of warmer summers? We haven’t seen one here for over 20 years. We watch it working over the flowers, until it vanishes with speed somewhere over the garden wall, and the bus arrives.
Hedgehog – 4 Jul 06
Mum peers out of the back window, and whispers.
It looks like someone has left an old coconut on the lawn. Snuffling about, minutely inspecting each blade of grass, each small patch of the lawn for the dried mealworms my mother leaves out. Heat and hard ground mean fewer worms and beetles, so every little helps. Almost every night she comes – Mrs Tiggywinkle in person - around 9.30 to 10 pm. Sometimes she lingers, but mostly she stays for about 20 minutes. Well, we don’t really know if she is really a ‘she’, but we make an educated guess. She’s small and neat, light brown fur edging a tidy bristle-cut hair-do, black-eyed and black-nosed. She has surprisingly long legs, moving with a rolling sailor’s gait. Trundling about like a small clockwork toy, leaving a trail through the grass, she disappears into the undergrowth of the flowerbeds, to reappear and cross the path before vanishing into the gathering darkness under the hawthorn tree at the bottom of the garden.
‘Think I’d better get some more mealworms,’ says Mum.