William

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William
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Re: William

Postby William » Wed Apr 20, 2016 6:11 pm

Thanks for all the kind comments everyone (not sure why I never replied)!

Recent Doings

It's been a rather slow start to the season so far after faffing around with birds over the winter, and like others, I've found hibernators to be in extremely short supply this year, with just the odd Comma, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell in the garden, where often there are several. The dam seems to have burst somewhat over the last couple of days, with my first Orange Tips, Small White, and Holly Blue, though I'm still yet to bump into Speckled Wood and Red Admiral. Surprisingly, despite all this, I saw my first Green-Veined White on the 31st of March - funny old world!

Photographic opportunities have been pretty limited up to this point, but a brief trip to Italy early in the month (where things also seemed rather late, with just hibernators, Speckled Wood, Holly Blue, Wall, Swallowtails, and Whites on the wing), gave me the chance to enjoy Scarce Swallowtails feeding on pear blossom (the most intoxicating Butterfly-Foodplant combination around?), and my first Southern Commas, much bigger and more angular than their English relatives!

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Scarce Swallowtail


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Scarce Swallowtail


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Swallowtail


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Southern Comma
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Padfield
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Re: William

Postby Padfield » Wed Apr 20, 2016 8:14 pm

All those shots are lovely, William. It was worth going to Italy just for that southern comma, but to add flight shots of scarce swallowtail - brilliant.

Guy
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David M
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Re: William

Postby David M » Wed Apr 20, 2016 8:34 pm

Great Southern Comma find, William! Even had it been in isolation, that butterfly alone made your trip worthwhile.

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William
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Re: William

Postby William » Sun May 22, 2016 11:48 am

Thanks Guy and David, a case of quality not quantity, Southern Comma has been on my wish list for a while, after 'our' Comma was the one that started it all for me!

Recent Doings

After a fairly slow start to the season, things seem now to be well underway in Somerset. Initial impressions are that hibernators have done very badly, Peacocks were super abundant last year, and are now very scarce, whilst I've only managed to see single figures of Small Tortoiseshells over the last few weeks, and Orange Tips, flying in lower numbers so far, are yet to repeat their communal roosting heroics in the garden this year.

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Orange Tips


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Orange Tip


On the plus side, Dingy and Grizzled Skippers seem to be doing well at Thurlbear, it was nice to watch the latter settle down to roost last week, most choosing dead stems in the traditional manner, but a couple defying convention and going for young saplings.

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Grizzled Skipper


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Grizzled Skipper


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Grizzled Skipper


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Grizzled Skipper


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Grizzled Skipper


I finally caught up with a single Duke at Buckland, and Common Blues have started to emerge (rather later than usual), locally.

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Duke of Burgundy


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Common Blue
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Pete Eeles
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Re: William

Postby Pete Eeles » Sun May 22, 2016 1:10 pm

What brilliant photos, William - they've really made me think! Very different!

Cheers,

- Pete

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David M
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Re: William

Postby David M » Sun May 22, 2016 3:01 pm

Love 'em! A bit of context brings them alive.

Great stuff, William!

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Re: William

Postby trevor » Sun May 22, 2016 5:49 pm

You have a different approach to Butterfly photography, and it works very well.
Super images, very enjoyable!.

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Re: William

Postby Pauline » Sun May 22, 2016 6:38 pm

Very evocative images William. You have a unique and immediately recognisable style which is a delight to view :D

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Re: William

Postby bugboy » Sun May 22, 2016 6:49 pm

Amazing pictures, very ethereal. I've tried getting pictures like these myself, I now realise I need to try much harder! :)
Some addictions are good for the soul!

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William
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Re: William

Postby William » Mon May 23, 2016 6:10 pm

Thanks for the kind comments everyone, it's been nice to get out a bit more this year, and see (and photograph) a slightly wider variety of species.

Thurlbear

On Saturday, despite the heavy rain that fell for most of the morning, and indeed much of the rest of the day, I resolved to make use of a free afternoon, and headed to Thurlbear in search of all things skipper-related. Chief inspiration for this choice of site was Mike Slater's excellent articles on finding Dingy and Grizzled Skipper eggs (http://www.warwickshire-butterflies.org ... s-2008.pdf and http://www.warwickshire-butterflies.org ... kipper.pdf) which I would highly recommend, there's nothing like a good bit of observation, and from my own brief findings on Saturday, Mike is bang on - egg-finding has never been so easy!

I started off with Grizzled Skippers, scoping out a patch of Wild Strawberry that I'd found on a previous visit, after randomly checking a few plants for 10 minutes, I decided to home in on the plants in scrapes, and sure enough, on one of the smaller leaves dangling over a rabbit scrape, was a Grizzled Skipper egg. This was the only one I found, despite checking various Cinquefoils/Burnets/Agrimonies overhanging other scrapes, but was in textbook position on a rather small plant at the top of the scrape.

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Grizzled Skipper Egg


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Grizzled Skipper Egg Context


Running out of time (and seemingly luck), I decided to try Dingies, and within 20 minutes, had racked up a respectable 9 eggs, all were laid in hollows amongst fine grasses (the kind made when grasses are squashed by a careless footprint, or the paths made by rabbits), with short grass/dead leaves/moss in the bottom, on short, isolated growths of Bird's Foot Trefoil, growing quite vertically, very unlike the sort of plants that Common Blues prefer (flat and creeping, short and dense, often on bare ground). Fascinating stuff!

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Dingy Skipper Egg


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Dingy Skipper egg site


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Dingy Skipper egg site


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Dingy Skipper egg site


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Dingy Skipper Egg


I did also find the time to look for some actual butterflies, plenty of both species were roosting on seedheads, with these companionable Grizzlies being particularly nice.

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Grizzled Skippers
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Pete Eeles
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Re: William

Postby Pete Eeles » Mon May 23, 2016 6:17 pm

Good work, sir! As I often quote: "I pity unlearned men on a rainy day" :)

Cheers,

- Pete

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Goldie M
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Re: William

Postby Goldie M » Mon May 23, 2016 6:43 pm

Love the shot of the Grizzled Skipper's William Goldie :D :mrgreen:

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William
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Re: William

Postby William » Mon May 23, 2016 8:28 pm

Pete Eeles wrote:Good work, sir! As I often quote: "I pity unlearned men on a rainy day" :)

Cheers,

- Pete


Cheers Pete - keeps me out of trouble :lol: - I was actually glad it was rainy, it meant I wasn't getting distracted by Green Hairstreaks/Dukes. Fascinating stuff!

Cheers Goldie!

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William
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Re: William

Postby William » Thu Jun 09, 2016 1:30 pm

Recent Doings

June is such a busy time of year, that it's proved hard to keep on top of things and regularly get out looking for butterflies. Nevertheless, I did manage a brief visit to the legendary Cotley Hill last weekend, the diversity and abundance of butterflies here is really quite astounding, and Grizzled and Dingy Skippers, Small Blues, Green Hairstreaks, Wood Tigers, Foresters, and ridiculous numbers of Burnets became mere sideshows in the face of the awesome numbers of Marsh Fritillary on the wing, with a smattering of Adonis Blues and Large Skippers just beginning to emerge. A really impressive site, and weirdly devoid of people - no sound but the jangling Corn Buntings and roundabout below, a strange, but rather enjoyable accompaniment to a memorable afternoon with my favourite of the british Butterflies!

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Marsh Fritillary


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Marsh Fritillary


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Marsh Fritillary


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Marsh Fritillary


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Adonis Blue


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Adonis Blue


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Common Blues


Closer to home, it was nice to catch this Speckled Wood larva in the act, whilst also finally finding a Green Hairstreak egg - one that's eluded me for a while!

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Speckled Wood Larva


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Speckled Wood Larva


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Green Hairstreak Egg


Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillaries also look set to have a good year on Exmoor (as do Heath, though I haven't had a chance to look for them yet), with c.40 at Clatworthy Reservoir last week.

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Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillary
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kevling
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Re: William

Postby kevling » Thu Jun 09, 2016 7:06 pm

William,

Lovely shots of the Marshies and Adonis Blue. I was there just over a week ago and you are certainly right about it being an impressive site.
The photo of the Green Hairstreak egg is nice too (but am I the only that is seeing a frog in that picture too :lol: ).

Keep em coming!

Regards Kev

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Re: William

Postby Wurzel » Thu Jun 09, 2016 9:52 pm

Great shots of the Marshies William :D Good news about the Small Pearls as well as round my way they seem to be having a worrying season. :? Let us know when the Heaths start flying :wink:

Have a goodun

Wurzel

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David M
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Re: William

Postby David M » Thu Jun 09, 2016 10:17 pm

Loving these images, William.

Keep 'em coming!

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William
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Re: William

Postby William » Fri Jun 10, 2016 7:50 am

Thanks for the kind comments guys - it's been nice to see some good stuff lately.

Wurzel - Heaths emerged about a week ago (a day after I went to look for them!), and seem to be having a good year, someone said they saw c.40 at Haddon Hill, and there seem to be similar counts coming from other sites - I can give you directions if you need them.

BWs,

William

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Wurzel
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Re: William

Postby Wurzel » Mon Jun 13, 2016 7:28 pm

Sorry for not getting back to you sooner William :oops: Directions would be really handy although I don't know if I'll make it this year, still there's always next year.
Have a goodun

Wurzel

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William
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Re: William

Postby William » Sun Sep 18, 2016 7:10 pm

Catching Up

What with one thing and another, it's been a while since I posted on UKB - though not due to any lack of butterflying activity, I hasten to say. Lots of photos from a July trip to the Alps to come!

Like most people, my impression has been of a really poor year for butterflies, with the notable exceptions of Large Blue (amazing numbers about on the Poldens, eggs and adults everywhere - heartening stuff!) and Purple Hairstreak, which seems to have made a full recovery from the year that must not be named (2014). Small Pearl - Bordered Fritillaries seem to have bucked the national trend in Somerset and did rather well on Exmoor, but these gains have to be set against a seriously bleak bigger picture for hibernators (ridiculously low numbers of Small Tortoiseshells and Peacocks on the garden buddleias), and most of the wider countryside species.

Anyway, some photos. With burgeoning numbers of Purple Hairstreaks, I decided to get out and about to try and photograph them, setting out to find a nice steep Combe on the Quantocks that would enable me to view them at eye-level. I found such a Combe after a bit of searching, and it prove a really delightful experience to get a good close look at them fussing about and fighting on the branches on a perfect August evening, backed up by a strong showing of Grayling along the stony paths nearby.

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Purple Hairstreak


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Purple Hairstreak


A few Clouded Yellows seem to have arrived in Somerset over the last couple of weeks (much to my delight), for me, few butterflies are quite as powerful and exciting, and, enthralled, I spent several hours photographing a female at a local common. The combination of sulphur yellow wings, and deep purple Devil's Bit haze will live long in the memory!

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Clouded Yellow


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Clouded Yellow


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Clouded Yellow


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Clouded Yellow


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Clouded Yellow


The scabious bounty was attracting good numbers of Small Whites as well, including these spectacular 'balls' of amorous males intent on cornering a distinctly harassed-looking female.

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Small Whites


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Small Whites


Despite the generally grim state of affairs for Lycaenids locally this year, Common Blues have been up to their usual egg-laying tricks in the garden.

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Common Blue ova


Small Coppers have arrived rather later to the party, with 3 females over the last couple of days.

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Small Copper ova


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Small Copper ovum


I've been quite interested by where they're placing their eggs, there doesn't seem to be any particular preference for the upperside of the leaf. Indeed, in most cases, plants with one egg on the upperside of a leaf have had at least one, more often two on the underside of the same leaf.

Holly Blues seem to have done better than their compatriots, with my first ever eggs in the garden (more, I suspect to do with my lack of thorough searching than anything).

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Holly Blue Larva


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Holly Blue Pupa


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Holly Blue Pupa


Unfortunately, I rather missed the boat for Brown Hairstreaks this year, being away in late August and early September, but did manage a single, glorious female in their local 'Master Ash' yesterday afternoon - real Autumn Gold!
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