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.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Small Copper, Lycaena phlaeas, aberration schmidtii

Our beautiful hot, dry summer came to an end a couple of weeks ago, but I have still been lucky enough to have been able to walk my weekly transect in reasonable weather. Last Wednesday was sunny, but very windy and cool. Despite that I still saw a reasonable number of butterflies including 36 Small Whites, 18 Green-veined Whites, 7 Large Whites, 4 Small Coppers, some Peacocks, Commas and Speckled Woods.

On my way back I took a different route and thought I would check out a sheltered corner where some mint grows in an old ditch. At first I didn't think there was much there, but I spotted a Peacock, which lead to me seeing a Small Copper, Lycaena Phlaeas. I then spotted a rather dull butterfly and thought it may have been a moth. But on closer inspection it turned out to also be a Small Copper. Instead of having lovely orange/copper markings, it was a cream colour. I believe this is an aberration known as schmidtii.

This is the second time this year that I have seen a special butterfly, when I didn't have my camera with me. Luckily I had my phone, but I wasn't able to get very close to the butterfly, so could only manage a distant shot.

As I followed this butterfly around the small patch of mint, trying to get a better picture, I spotted quite a few other butterflies. There turned out to be 7 Small Coppers there along with 2 Wall Browns, a Painted Lady, 2 Commas, 2 Peacocks and several whites. Here is a picture of a more conventional Small Copper.

I have returned to that spot a couple of times since, but the weather has been so poor there were no butterflies around. I will take my camera to work with me this week and if there is any good weather I will go and see if this special little butterfly is still there.

Nine days later and after three return visits I managed to see this butterfly again today. The weather was very dull and overcast and only 15 degrees. Despite that I saw five or six Small Coppers and then I noticed two squabbling in the air. One of them landed and I was delighted to see it was the schmidtii butterfly. I managed a couple of pictures and then it flew up and away, shortly before a very heavy shower.