The earlier pictures were taken on my wee compact Canon ixus 970IS, which involved sneaking up on the butterflies. This can be very frustrating when they fly off, but very rewarding when they don't!

Since 2012 I have been using a Panasonic Lumix FZ150, which allows me to zoom in to the butterflies from a couple of metres away.



Thursday, 27 June 2013

Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary - Clossiana selene

The Small Pearl Bordered Firitillary, Clossiana selene, is a medium sized butterfly that occurs in much of Europe, other than the Iberian Peninsula and Ireland. It seems to occur in scattered colonies across the UK, mostly towards the west of the country. As far as I am aware they do not occur in East Lothian, although there have been a couple of unconfirmed sightings here.

Its preferred habitat is damp, marshy, woodland areas and I suppose that may explain why they tend to occur in the west of the country which is generally wetter.


As with many species of Fritillary, the larval food plant is various species of Viola. I find it interesting that this butterfly lives in such a specific habitat, when the food plants are found much more widely.

This species spends much of its life as a caterpillar. The adult butterflies are on the wing for a period of about six weeks during June and July. Their eggs will hatch in July and the caterpillars will live through to the following May before becoming chrysalises.

This week I heard that there were a lot of Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries at a Scottish Wildlife Trust reserve in the Scottish Borders. On Tuesday I headed down to Gordon Moss to take a look for myself. I had been sent detailed instructions on how to find the reserve and then whereabouts on the reserve to look. No sooner had I arrived at the gate into the field I saw my first one and over the course of an hour I saw about 40 of them.


I was surprised how variable the markings were between individual butterflies.



I was hoping that I would see some Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries perched with their wings closed, as the markings on the underside of the wings are really beautiful. It was quite a cloudy day, and although I had been told that they would still be flying, I think that they were taking any opportunity to absorb the few solar rays available. As soon as they landed they would open their wings up towards where the sun was trying to shine through the clouds.

However, I presume this is a female which has recently emerged. I first spotted her because there were a couple of males flying about where she was in the grass. She kept climbing grass stems presumably as she was still drying her wings. In the process she kindly revealed the underside of her wings!



The butterfly below is an aberrant, which doesn't seem to be that uncommon with fritillaries. Normally people get quite excited about aberrations in butterflies, but I have to admit that I felt rather sorry for this one. I think its wings were a little malformed and it seemed quite an effort for it to fly. It also had a wonky antenna!


It was lovely to see these butterflies. They appeared more orange in real life, but they were still very difficult to keep an eye on when they were flying.

9 comments:

  1. This is indeed a lovely butterfly. However its underpart is even more pretty - looks like the mosaic effect a Tiffany lamp. Good macros.

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    1. It was very kind of that butterfly to oblige! Thanks for your comments, but I think it is the camera that should take the credit. I am very pleased with the results I get from it.

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    2. You have much humility. I use a macro lens but there is to much DOF in my photos. If I use a small aperture the photo is too dark. If I open up the aperture, that's where the shallow DOF pose a problem.

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    3. The Panasonic Lexus FZ150 has a 24 zoom and they claim it is the equivalent of a 25-600mm lens. It's great ability to zoom in from only 2 metres away from the subject allows me to get pictures of butterflies without disturbing the butterflies too much. The DOF is much greater from that distance, too. If I approach the butterfly closer without the zoom, then the DOF reduces considerably. There is a lot of debate on the UK Butterfly Forum about whether it is good to have the background of the picture in focus or to have only the butterfly in focus with the background completely blurred. Personally, I like to see the butterfly in context with its background. One member of UKBF actually lives in Switzerland and he takes amazing pictures of butterflies with snow covered Alps behind.

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    4. Actually I like shallow DOF where the background is blurred as they appear more artistic. However my concern is that sometimes I can't get the whole critter in focus. If there is a pair of them, then only one can be in focus.

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  2. Hi Nick:) Spectacular images of this beautiful Fritillary, which is just as beautiful on it's underwings. Glad you managed to get a shot of the underwings, as I have never seen this butterfly except in books. The impressive heavy markings on the last butterfly image are new to me,.. think you may be right,as it's not in any of my books.

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    1. It was a thrill for me to have some time with a new species for me. It is interesting how often Fritillaries produce random patterns and colours. You can't beat the standard underwing markings though.

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  3. Nick, Great Fritillary shots . . . ours are not quite as dark but then it could be the light. Love the ones with the underside wings. Beautiful. I feel sorry for the poor little aberrant too.

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  4. Nick, I really love your blog. I took a bit of a look around today....read a few posts. I love how you give all the details for your hunting. I'm afraid I'm a bit boring on that front, as I usually just post the photos with no commentary whatsoever. I originally started the blog as just a place to keep track of the different butterflies we had coming to our garden, and then over the years, as I moved from continent to continent, it kind of grew. It's always a work in progress...I still have so many species from this summer to get identified! But thanks for your visit and lovely comment. Please, if you visit again, I would really love feedback from a fellow butterflier as to navigating and finding stuff on my site, as well as any corrections on identifications etc. And I'll be back as I have time to read back through your archives. My language studies, etc. Keep me quite busy, but a good read about butterflying always makes for good relaxing reading for me. I'm excited to see more of your work.

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