Saturday, 8 September 2007

Small visitors

All sorts of interesting things/people drop into this house, and with a few notable exceptions (the mosquitoes are MASSIVE), they are mostly rather small. A few weeks ago, it seemed the flying beastie population had hit its maximum and I could barely turn on a light without a swarm of various sorts of moths, mossies, midges, craneflies and other assorted insects homing to it. Most of these things I live alongside quite happily, but the biting things are far from being my friends. Fortunately, this week they've been biting everyone except for me - this might be something to do with my not being around this week and instead being rather boringly at work. 

We had a rather large moth flying around the living room a few weeks back as Stray and I were contemplating the thought of a mug of cocoa and a few rather convoluted crossword clues. It was absolutely enormous with a huge, heavy-looking body. And it was very, very black. And had a rather odd form of flight. After watching it career around the room for a few moments more, it became obvious to us that this moth was in fact a bat. Between Stray, the bat and me, we squawked a bit, opened the door and cowered in corners, flinching when the bat headed our way. The bat seemed to keep its cool, though, and calmly made for the emergency exit. Phew.

I was, however, rather delighted when this obliging little creature (some sort of hawker dragonfly, I think) dropped in on me today and consented to be photographed.

Actually, it wasn't so little. It was maybe three to four inches long with a four inch wingspan, so quite large as flying beasties go. And rather spectacularly painted, no?? Well, anyway, it'd wedged itself in the dusty no-mans-land between sofa and floor-to-ceiling window, struggling valiantly to get at the vast open space outside, and nutting itself with grinding frequency against the glazing (yes, those are bits of cobweb and dust caught up in its wings...), causing it to need to rub its no doubt sore head.

The predatory Snuff/Orphelia was sitting atop the sofa just in case the stricken thing managed to gain enough height to escape the sofa hinterland and become A Valid Plaything. The beastie appeared to be well-trapped in three spatial dimensions - sofa/window on the z-axis, floor/certain-death-by-cat on the y-axis, and two window frames on the x-axis. It needed help.

Much flapping of towels, relocating of cats and shining of torches later, I eventually got the thing onto the curtain, where it posed gratefully and recovered from the percussive beating it had given itself. A few snaps later, I dragged it out of the door on the curtain and gave it a good shake, leaving it to fly off to fight another day.

I hope it identifies and learns some self-preservation lessons from its brief stay in the house of flying things.


Pixie said...

What amazing pics, even if it's a scary flying thing. Don't like scary flying things, or spiders, or snails, or slugs, or ants or anything really smaller than a cat.
A nice picture of a fluffy cat would be good!!

But Why? said...

Thanks. I have duly attempted to oblige with a link to Snuff's mugshot, however, she's far from fluffy and other than being approximately cat-shaped and cat coloured, fails to behave in a manner indicative of a cat. I plan to get her DNA tested to ensure she's not a wallaby.
But xx

trousers said...

Yes great pictures, I can even appreciate the dragonfly ones, although I hate those creatures.

KindaBlue said...

A male Southern Hawker, by the looks of it.

But Why? said...

I have to admit that I was pleased the thing was separated from me by a large pane of glass when taking these pics. Although the reflections were a bit distracting, I'd have got nowhere near as close were it not there. Not because I don't like them, but the sudden movement generally gives me a bit of a shock.

Thanks - I thought about trying to identify it, but rather hoped someone might know or see it as a challenge and do it for me. Whichever, I am impressed.


Andy F said...

As lots of people have already pointed out, very impressive pics.

DJ Kirkby said...

Beautiful pics, just beautiful. as for lessons learnt? I doubt it very much. The bit about the bat made me laugh...

But Why? said...

Thanks. I think I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and have access to my camera. Or maybe it wasn't the right place, as I felt obliged to help the stricken thing get out of the pickle it'd got itself into and I'm not that great with things that move suddenly and unexpectedly. I have no idea how or why it managed and chose to squeeze itself into that godforsaken space... xx

Thanks. It's definitely down to the inherent beauty of my model rather than any ability to manipulate a camera. And as for the bat, well, we had previously seen an awful lot of moths, some of which were quite large, and my excuse is that I'd sort of become conditioned to recognise largeish flying things in the house as moths. I can recognise bats alright when they're flying around near trees, where I expect to find them... Glad to have made you laugh.

But xx

Mid-lifer said...

Great pics. CANNOT beleive that you have huge mozzies in Guildford - reckon you're exaggerating.(shhh..I live just down the road from Guildford, but don't tell anyone coz I'm anonymous!) Having said that, my son showed me at least ten bites all over his wee body yesterday, claiming to have been bitten in the night.

Thanks for dropping along to my blog.

But Why? said...


How lovely of you to drop to by. Had you have let me know in advance, I'd have put the kettle on for a nice brew. Welcome. We do appear to have a very special breed of mossie here that I've not come across elsewhere - it's sized almost exactly half-way between the tiniest midge you ever did see, and the most enormous cranefly in the world. They are truly terrifying beasts. I suspect it may have been one of those, on a late summer holiday down the road, which bit your son.

Anna MR said...

Morning Mutta, is it not so that dragonflies only live for a day in their dragonfly form? Be that as it may (and I think I'm right - now who was it who identified it? Can you elaborate on the lifespan of the beast?) you did a good deed rescuing it, dear heart. A very good deed. I think dragonflies are beautiful. Fierce predators in their larval form, though - they can take tadpoles or even small fish. Word.

Love the look of your cat, too.


But Why? said...


Alas, the cat is not mine. The wallaby/feline mix that is Snuff does in fact belong to The Housemate Known As Stray. Having no animals of my own, I feel somehow obliged to take care of the winged waifs and strays (lower case) that occasionally cruise in on a thermal.

I'm afraid I can't elaborate on the lifespan of the adult dragonfly, but I suspect its a bit longer than a day (or at least, I hope it is - it would seem a rather pointless waste of energy to grow something that beautiful for it to get only a 24 hr window in which to reproduce.)

Anna MR said...

Oh, but Mutta Butkins - couldn't life in general be described as just that, "a rather pointless waste of energy to grow something ... beautiful"?


But Why? said...

Well, yes, but if I was designing a killer set of genes to take over the world, I think I'd be aiming at something akin to efficient, lean, mass production (e.g. fruit flies), rather than the painstakingly crafted, low volume end of the market (dragonflies).

As for life being pointless, ultimately, I'd have to agree with you, but that doesn't mean we can't set the rules to make it more interesting. What rules do you play this game of life by?

But xx

Rob Clack said...

Great photos. Did you get a snap of the bat? Lucky you to have one sharing your airspace.

Only just found your blog and having a great time working backwards in time!

But Why? said...

Rob C,
Sadly no photos of the bat - for once, getting evidence of the occasion wasn't the first thing on my mind, this having been displaced by an overwhelming urge to say "eek" a lot, open the door and cower in the nearest corner. Next time...

As for working backwards through my blog, I do apologise for having subjected you to Becki's crocheted delights. That's not something I would choose to inflict on new visitors.

But (you pay your money and take your choice...)