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Wednesday, 26 May 2010

The one that nearly got away.....

On the morning of 25th September 2005, at my house in Lyons Gate, Dorset, after fairly uneventful nights trapping, I left the MV light still illuminated against the locked garage door, meaning to turn it off later.  Some hours later I had to retrieve something from the car on the drive, and noticed a large moth on the garage wall above the lamp that was still on.  Expecting it to be a Red Underwing, of which I had only ever seen one, I decided to go and get the camera to photograph it.  Of course, I got distracted, and it was another couple of hours before I went back outside with the camera.  I took a quick shot, then gently poked it so I could get the red underwing......it was elecric blue!  A Clifden Nonpareil, what a beaut!, and before I could photo it again it fluttered a few feet further on and landed on the garage door.  I quickly took a shot with its wings partly open to catch the hindwing. 
Before I could take any more shots....panic....it started to fly again.  Amazingly, the moth fluttered around and then landed on my chest;  I was wearing a bright blue shirt, and wonder whether it was the colour that attracted the moth.  Having gently cupped my hand over the moth on my chest I called to my youngest daughter to get one of my specimen boxes, which fortunately she found and I carefully boxed the moth.  

What to do now?  Well, I knew it was a good record, and one of those moths that most moth'ers dream about catching.  Someone else had to see it, so I drove down to Portland, just to get Martin Cade to confirm the record.  Suitably impressed I returned home and decided to try and get some more photographs, but on opening the box, the moth flew off strongly across the road never to be seen again.

This really was one of those wow! moments, setting the old ticker racing.  Being thoroughly elated I could only ponder on the fact that this moth so nearly got away...several times.  Having ignored scrutinising the moth all morning, it stayed long enough for me to photograph it, but even then I had nearly poked it before trying to get a record shot.  Big mistake.....and then when it flew again it had landed on me..how lucky was that.

It still ranks as one of my great natural history moments, and one that still makes me smile even now. 

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