Firstly I must apologise for long absence from posting,but to be honest, I have hardly done anything decent to post about !.
Well its now mid-summer and ,as usual with me, my thoughts turn to insects – which,in my case usually means dragonflies or butterflies – usually both !.
I must say that where I am in Huddersfield,West Yorkshire,we are`nt blessed with butterfly habitat so everything I tackle is a car drive away and sometimes many hours at that
Common blue butterfly was the first one i went for this year just an hours travel down the M1 to a large untouched meadow in Derbyshire that i stumbled upon by accident a few years ago
Its heaving with common blues – the meadow being full of birds-foot trefoil – the foodplant of the caterpillars
No doubt I don`t need to remind you about the terrible May we had with cold and consistent Westerlies having a severe impact on our early emerging butterflies – luckily common blues start to emerge more or less at the end of May and the weather was starting to look better for them.
As soon as I arrived at the meadow,the butterflies were evident but I noticed they were nearly all males – maybe its one of those species where the males emerge first ?
Click on image to enlarge
Male Common blue
I need`nt have worried though – I started to get my eye in and found several females,though they were outnumbered by about 10 to 1 by males
Female Common blue
I did`nt see any pairs mating – the nearest being these 2 close together – the photo taken as they had gone to rest up for the night – the female is on the left
Click on image to enlarge
The first ” big one ” that I went for this year,a relative of Common blue,was actually extinct in Britain about 60 years ago
The Large blue butterfly was successfully re-introduced at several sites in the South-West of England,though only a couple of the sites are open to the general public.
The Large blue has a fascinating lifestyle whereas it depends upon one type of ant which takes the caterpillar underground into the ant nest where it preys on the ants offspring – amazing !
I was researching on the internet for Large blue colonies and found out about a place I had never heard of in Gloucestershire – Daneway Banks SSSI
It was still 3 hours drive from home but it sounded very promising so I arrived there at the crack of dawn with absolutely no idea where to look – even the reserve was`nt signposted
I ambled around for about 2 hours seeing nothing but a curious fox and not a soul in sight – I was becoming anxious
My luck then changed when a car pulled up and a friendly guy who came most days before work pointed me to the best area for them
They still were`nt easy to find but slowly we began to find them and in the next 3 hours saw at least six individuals
Female Large blue
It was getting very hot and so was I ! – the reserve is on a steep banking and its hard going chasing up and down trying to keep an eye on a flying insect about as big as your thumbnail
I wanted a shot with the wings open but they just were`nt playing so I had to be satisfied with the above wings closed pics
My next target was Black hairstreak – another big drive South to Northamptonshire to a site I had heard of many times over the years but never made the effort to visit
The gloriously named Glapthorn Cow Pastures is actually a broad-leaved woodland with not a cow or a pasture in sight !
Again,it is a reserve managed primarily for Black hairstreak with plenty of Blackthorn – the butterflies only lay their eggs on Blackthorn
Although it`s a very uncommon and localised butterfly,I did see plenty of them here- at least 20, but they were always flitting around the tree-tops – hopeless for photography – and in nearly 2 full days visits,I only saw 4 at ground level feeding
Apparently,some years they get big numbers down low but not this year – not for me anyway !
Female Black hairstreak
Also took a few shots of Large skipper while waiting for the hairstreaks to show
Another Butterfly I have long wanted to get pics of is Britains only truly montane species – The Mountain ringlet.
Only found in the Lake district in England ( yes another big drive ! ),and a few sites in Scotland,and as its name implies,found only at high altitude.
I went to Irton Fell on a hot and sunny day – these butterflies only fly in sunshine apparently and thats a rare commodity in the Lakes
I saw at least 100 but they were so active because of the weather – really frustrating to photograph and I only managed one decent pic all day !Also,I left it a bit late in the year and most were fading or tatty specimens – should have been about mid – June to get them in mint condition
So there you are – frustrating a lot of the time but it would`nt be as much fun if it was easy !
Hope you enjoy