Wednesday, July 19, 2006

This is not a twig

... it's not a twig. It's a Buff Tip Moth. Photographed last night at a great moth, glow worm and bat spotting evening at the wonderful Pewley Downs.

I was simply stunned. I was not alone. The woman beside me kept gasping that she was over sixty and she'd never seen one of them before. I'm sure we have ... just thought they were twigs.

The moth dudes were also enthusiastic about butterflies, for which Pewley Downs is an important site - being one of the few chalk downs of significant size remaining. The warden spoke to us about the difficulties of fragmented habitat - Guildford is full of small patches of ideal butterfly territory, but although some species can make flights of dozens or hundreds of miles to find new habitat (the Monarch migrates 4000 miles from the US to Iceland! ), others will live their entire existence in just 50 square meters of wildflowers. These 'local' butterflies fly close to the ground. They flit happily amongst flowers and short grass, but the moment they hit a patch of longer grass or a bit of wild parsnip they think it is a wall marking the end of the world and turn back. Food for thought.

We arrived just as the sun was beginning to lower, the downs smattered with happy couples, enjoying a romantic evening in the breeze after a truly sweltering day.


Blogger Brenda said...

An amazingly camoflaged winged creature; they look kind of dressed up, spiffy, on a dining room table type linen cloth. I wonder what they're thinking, or if they think? Thanks for the photo, and sharing an evening of moth, glow worm and bat watching.

20 July, 2006 00:18  
Anonymous purplefiona said...

Perhaps twigs think. Perhaps we've all seen lots of things that we thought were other things. Lots of still things that are actually moving. Dead looking things that are actually alive, and thinking. Perhaps we've all come up against walls at the end of the world that are really only taller grass.. just a bit harder to see our way through to the other side.

20 July, 2006 14:49  
Blogger Stray said...

It's a pleasure brenda :)

i'm not sure what the received wisdom is on whether moths have consciousness, but have no doubt that we as humans experience only a particular and fairly narrow state that we define as consciousness, and we're probably in no position to decide whether anything outside ourselves 'thinks' at all :)

So - yes, purplefiona, nice to see you, and I think you're right - we write things off as understood when really they are unfathomably different from our first glance all the time.

How many of us notice that the glass in our windows is slowly flowing downwards? That our television screen is headed for a long-term but undeniable drip? I know these things, but I don't notice them. Different.

20 July, 2006 16:12  
Blogger MB said...

I, for one, am glad that I don't see everything for what it is all at once. How boring the rest of my life would be! The discoveries that continue all my life, the way one thing can seem as another... these are things that delight me, as your photo does.

20 July, 2006 20:14  

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