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.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Favourite butterfly

It is time for my annual indulgence. After a week of miserable weather we actually had some sunshine yesterday. I was able to complete my butterfly transect and on the way back I stopped to take some pictures of Orange Tips. They are my favourite butterfly and represent the start of the butterfly season for me.



I was amused that within seconds of the sun going behind a cloud the Orange Tips would stop flying and close up their wings. They are very difficult to spot when they are roosting like this.


When the sun came back out they would open up their wings and start feeding again!


So far this year I have only seen one female Orange Tip, but I was delighted to spot an egg in this picture behind the butterfly's left antennae. Sadly the weather has turned windy and rainy again, so it may be a few days before they are out and about again.