Stag beetles (again)

I love this time of year the most. 
Its beauty and lushness. Flora at its peak, seed pods visible but flowers still intact. It was one of those lemony suburban dusks, fine-grained and sieved,  swifts feeding and scrying, the air fuzzed with traffic sound, heat hanging on, generously. 
Sorry, getting carried away ... anyway, the children and I (and dog) were walking along, at about 9.30 and were somewhat startled to notice large flying insects, just above head height, flying haphazardly with a metallic flittery noise, like tinnitus. 
I thought they were hornets at first but then remembered seeing flying stag beetles two years ago, at a similar time of year. 
There were dozens of them,  cumbersome contraptions, and they moved as if they were testing the mechanics of flight and just managing to lift off. 
They looked like they'd been put together with pins and tiny pinions. 

I felt sorry for them, butting and dinging into scrubby bushes and chain-mail fences with their split carapace and grand mandibles and sense of purpose. They had a sort of blind reproductive fervour about them.  
I picked quite a lot of them out of the road.
When I came out the next morning, it was hard to believe they had been there. There was a sort of midsummer magic in their existence and that evening. I wondered where they were hiding and resolved to make a log pile in the corner of our garden. Why there are so many here in outer London/suburban Kent. Is it a particular tree and soil combination?

I'm wary of anthropomorphising but I hope they made it, wherever and whatever 'it' is. Such a lot of time went into making them what they are. It takes seven years for a stag beetle to incubate, and the males fly between late May and July. They only live for three or four weeks in beetle form.

The web tells me they are also called billywitches, oak-ox, thunder-beetle and horse pincher - what wonderful names - and are most likely to fly on humid, thundery evenings. I hope to see them again - I remember my father showing me a magnificent one in France when I was seven. 


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