Is it a bird?… er no

Quite often I have to smile when I read in the local press that someone has seen a Hummingbird in their garden, and wondered if it had migrated from the New World.  The thing is they are almost correct, just a few words missing from the name and a bit nearer to home.  What they are seeing is the Hummingbird Hawk Moth (Macroglossum stellatarum) a migrant to the UK from Continental Europe. It has a wingspan of about 50mm (2 inches) a stout furry body and a rapid darting flight.

Hummingbird Hawk Moth at Wells

A few days back my daughter Victoria and I took a trip up to Wells on the north Norfolk coast.  From the harbour to the beach is a sea wall about a mile long, the banks are covered in wild flowers.  It was in a patch of vipers bugloss that we saw the moth darting about.  Now these critters move and quickly!  A great challenge to photograph, especially as I had the macro lens on, which is not really designed for moving objects.

What a big tongue you have!

I sat down, the moth stayed close, luckily it would hover for a second or so allowing the auto focus to lock on, a quick burst and hey presto!  some pretty nice images

Technical info for the bottom image. Nikon D5300, Sigma 105 2.8 os macro plus Sigma1.4x converter.  F13, 1/1250sec, iso500, auto focus single point and centre weighted metering using aperture priority.


43 thoughts on “Is it a bird?… er no

      1. Indeed!
        I was photographing a Painted lady at the time when one appeared. At first it was way up in the shrub and I had my Canon with the kit lens so no chance of a decent shot.
        It then dropped right down to feed off the lower branches and I managed TWO shots

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I set the aperture to get reasonable dof then up the iso to get the shutter speed, in this case we had brilliant sunshine so didn’t have to go too high and risk noise, though I must say the D5300 is very good at high iso.


  1. Great shots~! Also appreciated is that you put in the technical details—relating the details to the snaps must be worth several weeks of night-school or professional lessons. As the actress said to the bishop: “Don’t stop …”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Argus kind Sir. Adding the tech bits is something I would not normally do but thought might be of interest as the subject is a tricky one to image, some of those who visit this blog like to photograph similar insects so it may help.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Funny story about this species-I captured one and was going to take a picture of it, but it escaped! Oh well, I should have known it wouldn’t stick around I guess!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve ran into the Clearwing here (even have a post on it), but not the Hummingbird variety mentioned above. We are blessed with 5 to 11 Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds that spend the summer at my feeders each year so pretty familiar with those, but never seen this particular moth before – extremely impressed you were able to get that in the tin with the macro on. thanks for sharing, cool post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Brian, yes I’ve seen some great images of the Clearwings, lovely moths. I didn’t think the macro would be any good on a fast moving subject, all it would do would hunt, but it worked, it got just enough time for the af to lock on. I was going to switch to my zoom and step back a few feet but it’s not as sharp, happily didn’t need to.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks Deborah, I like to have a bit of wing blur and not freeze it, it adds to the impression of speed and motion, also the shutter speed would have had to have been so high iso would go through the roof!

      Liked by 1 person

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