Standing and staring across a sea loch in Morvern on the west coast of Scotland last week my thoughts were interrupted by a 'thing' that shot past my ear. It made a buzz that is to the bumble bee what the lancaster bomber is to the spitfire. Then it was gone. Two days later, a 'Woah, what's THAT!' moment among the rhododendrons solved the mystery.
The Narrow-bordered Bee Hawkmoth is impressive. A day flyer in warm sunshine it feeds while hovering at flowers (bird's foot trefoil and rhodies in our case). The larval plants are devil's-bit and field scabious.
I recognised it instantly because, in another one of life's delicious coincidences, I happened to thumb the hawkmoths pages in my insect field guide the night before. Weird.
I read that this moth is a priority species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan having suffered serious decline from commonplace to a few western areas of the UK.
The similar broad bordered bee hawkmoth has a southern England distribution.
POSTSCRIPT: The limited distribution information that I could find didn't show it occuring here so I forwarded the record to the County Moth Recorder. He replied 'Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth seems to be having a good year in Scotland. We have had a number of records and many from new areas. Since 2002 it has been recorded from 36 new 10km squares in Scotland a combination of more recorders but also how well it is doing.'