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Taking Flight (S Devon Branch)

Thu. 17 February 2022 at 2:15 pm

£2 – £4

A talk “Taking flight. Butterflies, dragonflies and other animals”, to be given by the DA’s President Dr Robin Wootton.

Animal flight is among the most visually beautiful of all natural phenomena. Robin will use slides and videoclips of birds and insects to illustrate the variety of techniques they employ, and will show how the beauty of flight can be enhanced by understanding the underlying scientific principles.

£2 for DA members, otherwise £4.


Photo: “Skipper” © Dr John Brackenbury
(click to see larger version)

At the end of his talk, Robin Wootton showed a slide listing some relevant YouTube videos that he recommended:

Royal albatross. Epic flight
Hummingbird. Slow motion
What happens when you put a hummingbird in a wind tunnel?
Flight of the condor
Behaviour of dragonflies: metalwing wonders
Behaviour of dragonflies: demoiselles talking with their wings
Behaviour of dragonflies: Fascinating Helicopter Damselflies
Butterflies flying in slow motion HD. Houston butterfly museum
Festo – eMotion butterflies

Report on the talk

Starting with stunning video clips of albatrosses, ravens, humming birds, butterflies and dragonflies Dr Wootton set the tone for the talk. Birds and insects use differing methods for flight and Dr Wootton took members through the various options.

Birds such as the albatross, condor and eagle use gliding and this method depends on weight, wing area and wing shape. Condors and eagles have big, broad wings as they have heavy bodies but they can move their primary feathers to reduce drag. Birds with long and slender wings have more lift but all birds need to flap their wings to keep them in the air.

Insects are usually smaller than birds and there is much more variety in size and method of flying. Small animals cannot glide and the smaller it is, the faster it has to beat its wings. Insects have a special muscle to enable them to beat their wings so quickly and they have a “clapping” action. Butterflies have very movable wings and some insects, such as cicada, can actually bend their wings.

Dr Wootton’s use of video clips throughout his presentation demonstrated the beauty and manoeuvrability of these magnificent creatures that share our planet.

Chris Reader
February 2022


Thu. 17 February 2022
2:15 pm
£2 – £4
Event Categories:


South Devon Branch
Annie Maltby: 07771 277761


Newton’s Place
43 Wolborough St
Newton Abbot, Devon TQ12 1JQ