The other evening was my best Stag Night ever, and I've had a few in my time, I can tell you.
I should explain. I haven't been married many times; I'm not the male equivalent of Joan Collins (despite what some might say). No, this is about what I like to do on warm evenings when I take ten minutes out at dusk just to go and watch my night-time garden wildlife.
And right now, as well as the bats skimming the pond, my main focus of attention is my Stag Beetles.
Sometimes I see none. But usually one will waft in silhouette across the fading sky.
If you have never seen one in flight, it is really rather amusing. It seems to be a slow-motion careering across the garden, the heavy body hanging awkwardly down. If I'm honest, they actually look rather drunk as they lurch one way and then back again, sometimes crashing into vegetation, half out of control. (Ah, an image indeed of many a Stag Night).
So what kind of wings power this magnificent flying machine? Well, this week I was fortunate enough to find a Stag about to take off from a tree stump.
Up popped the wing cases, like lifting a split-bonnet of an old classic motorcar, and out from underneath appeared the most marvellous pair of wings. Cue take off!
Try to chase one in the dark (which I can tell you is quite dangerous near a pond) and you will find that they are moving at some speed. Getting a shot with camera in one hand and torch in the other proved difficult, but here's my blurry shot of our biggest beetle in mid-air.
So despite what it looks like, it seems they actually know what they're doing up there, and that's a good thing as they're on a lovestruck search of females.
Given how dark it is when they start flying, it got me wondering how the males actually find a mate. The fact that males have big antennae with combs on the ends of them suggests that the females are probably pumping out pheromones to lure them in, a kind of love scent.
What's then amazing to think is that, if he finds a female, and if she then lays eggs, the resulting dead-wood-eating larvae probably won't emerge as adults for six to eight years. But at least with all the logs I've buried in the garden, it means I've got a good chance of seeing Stag Beetles in 2025 and beyond!