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.



Friday, 29 May 2015

Green Hairstreak - Callophrys rubi

One advantage of having lousy weather is that when it is nice we really appreciate it! Yesterday we had sunshine forecast and I was able to visit the site where we had found Green Hairstreaks, Callophrys rubi, last year.
A friend and I have already visited this site twice this month without seeing any Hairstreaks. Although it was sunny, up in the hills the temperature wasn't high enough for the butterflies to emerge. My friend noticed that when she felt the clumps of vegetation where the chrysalis would have been it was very much colder than the air temperature.
Last Friday she sent me an e-mail to say that she had seen some Green Hairstreaks there. The weather was great this weekend, but I was working, so yesterday lunchtime we met up to go and have a look for them.
As soon as we arrived we saw a small butterfly flying close to the ground. Even though the wind was quite strong the Green Hairstreaks were flying in sheltered spots close to some pine trees.
I had noticed last year that the Hairstreaks always occurred close to pine plantations. I had assumed that this was because they offered shelter from the wind. However, as we watched them this time two Hairstreaks briefly chased each other and then spiraled up onto a pine tree where they proceeded to mate.
The pine trees appeared to be attractive to the Green Hairstreaks and we noticed that they often landed on the fresh shoots. Presumably there is resin on the shoots that the butterflies feed on.
The male butterflies seem to have special perches where they wait for other insects to fly past. They would fly up and chase away any flies that flew too close to them and pursue any females that flew nearby.
These are such beautiful little butterflies. The metallic green colour looks so exotic. Some of them have a row of white dots, while others are completely green. The intensity of the green varied depending on how the light was hitting the wings. The top side of their wings is brown.
It was a real treat being able to spend time watching these butterflies.

6 comments:

  1. I love this color! I confess I've never seen this butterfly color before. It must so camouflaged that it's hard to spot them?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maria. Yes, it is fantastic. I don't think there is another UK butterfly with green on it! It is interesting that the scales on the underside seem to refract the light giving various shades of green. Their upper side is just brown, unlike most blue butterflies, which have the bright scales on the upper side and a more camouflaged pattern on the underside.

      Delete
  2. It was a treat for me to see your gorgeous photos of these jewels Nick. I am green with envy. I have not seen any of our Hairstreaks yet, but none compare to your beauties.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carol, it was a treat for me too!! I have only seen them once before in Scotland, a little later in the season when they were quite damaged. Many of those I saw this week looked as though they had freshly emerged. This spring has been cold, so the butterflies seem to be a couple of weeks behind their normal flight period.

      Delete
  3. Orange tips and Green hairstreak are truly my favourite european butterflies!
    You have posted lovely photos of both species!
    The Green hairsteak is not very common where I live but in the Landes area, I know where to find them!
    Lovely post!
    Enjoy your weekend :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Noushka. They are lovely butterflies. I often long to go abroad to see more exotic butterflies, but many of those that we get here in Scotland are just as beautiful.

      Delete