I took my moth "exhibit" to the wildlife event in the village this afternoon. As the weather was so good the action took place in the field opposite the Village Hall. I did get to see quite a few people, several who'd visited us during the garden safaris over the years, but also quite a few others who were probably having their first proper look at some of the garden moths. Most kids get to see butterflies, in fact I think several classes in the village school are doing projects on butterflies at the moment, but few realise how many great looking moths that we also have.
Holding a small moth requires a lot of concentration, and of course it also means that you are not at all scared of holding insects. It's great to get children used to the idea that insects are a part of their environment and that they can be interesting. Of course they need to learn that some things, like bees and wasps, can sting and need respect, but they also need to be confident and not scared what are mostly harmless creatures.
One of the most popular "bugs" I had on view was a Cockchafer These large beetles, also known as May Bugs are quite daunting at first. But once the children found they it was fun to have then walking on their finger they all lost their reluctance and had a try. They Cockchafer has a king of natural Velcro on their feet that makes then stick quite tightly to an out stretched finger. Their grubs are a pest though, they're the big white grubs that eat roots, and are the enemy of potato growers.
When it was time to let all the moths go I had quite a lot of help from this bunch of budding lepidopterists. The seemed to enjoy watching them make their escape. Of course the sight of a camera produced a certain amount of "posing"!
Up until a few days ago mothing had been terrible in May, the worst I've ever know. The warmer weather mas meant that it's been a bit better for the last couple of days, so I did a least have a few moths to show. One that I didn't take along was this Lunar Double-stripe, it is quite a rare migrant and the first I've caught or seen. It will be released tomorrow night, after a couple of people who want to see it have visited it.
I was.surprised to see this stuffed bird on the the Rippledown stall. From a distance I realised it wasn't a Common Kestrel, but a Lesser Kestrel, a bird of southern Europe with just a handful of records ion the UK. It turned out to be the bird that was found dead at Dover Castle on on 20 April 1989, a bizzare record. Presumable the bird had made it across the channel but had become exhausted and too weak to feed. It is the only Lesser Kestrel I've seen in Kent, but hopefully a fit and healthy one might arrive sometime.
Meanwhile in South Foreland Valley the two young Konik Pony foals are growing fast. I wrote about one before my Pacific trip, and the week after I went a second foal was born. This one seems to have an itch that needs scratching.
In the evening light his fellow new conservationist (for that is their purpose) trotted over to see him.
A bit of mutual grooming and scratching was on the agenda. I must admit I always like having my back scratched, much better than doing it your self!