I Got The Blues
No, this post has nothing to do with my mood yesterday morning when I woke up to the shocking news that the UK has voted to leave the EU. There has been so much negativity and division in the news over recent weeks that I've found my post-work forays around meadows even more beneficial. Escapism at its natural best and my main place for escaping as hinted in my previous post has been Daneway Banks, nestled near Sapperton in Gloucestershire. During the summer months this becomes an almost second home for me as there is always something to see and this year has been no exception.
I've made a number of visits since the start of June and one thing that stands out this year is the lack of Common Blues. I've only found a handful so far this year and they've all been fairly worn and battered so it may be that the first brood emerged a bit earlier. Having looked back at previous images I suspect July will be a more fruitful month with, hopefully, a bigger emergence to come.
The main attraction for visitors though is the Large Blue. A once extinct species on UK soil, this butterfly has been reintroduced at a small number of sites and we're fortunate to have one such site close to home. Over the three years I've been visiting Daneway Banks I've found the Large Blue without too much trouble suggesting that numbers are doing well. Over the last few weeks, I've found at least one of these impressive butterflies on every visit, partially due to knowing their preferred areas, though they can be found throughout the reserve. My highest count is three in one visit which was on the evening of Thursday 23rd June. Nothing to shout home about but I only gave a small area a search and I arrived an hour before sunset so not bad going. In terms of photography, I've still yet to get that open wing shot but I have finally got a shot of one roosting on an orchid - something I've been hoping for for some time!
The orchid of choice was a Common-spotted Orchid and I stumbled upon this one just before sunset on a breezy evening. It was therefore a case of hoping that at least one frame came out with everything in focus and sharp. Thankfully a few frames met this criteria with the above my favourite image.
A few days later I made an early morning visit hoping to find a Large Blue roosting and, hopefully, to see it warm itself up and open those wings. Sadly, the sun didn't emerge but I did find an incredibly fresh female, which really stood out amongst the grass. It was remarkably larger than any individual I can remember and was pristine. I got a number of shots and was very pleased to point this butterfly out to a few visitors who'd never seen one before. Always a great privilege to share special moments like this with other like-minded people.
My most recent visit was a quick one on the way home from the pub and I found three individuals of varying size and condition, with one of these roosting right next to a path and even better on a photogenic plant. An awkward and careful amount of manouvering was required to get a clean background.
During the last few visits the Marbled White population has begun to emerge and numbers are really increasing now, though I'm still yet to find a female. A morning visit saw plenty of males basking in the warmth despite the sun not being out. One of these posed very nicely indeed.
The next time I'll post will be on my return from France. Later on this evening, Dad and I will be heading south to the Dordogne area for a whole week of wildlife photography. Butterflies are very high on the list though I'm hoping for some decent birds too! I just hope things live up to expectations and that I come home with some amazing memories, and if I'm really lucky, some decent images. See you on the other side, mes amies!
Keywords: Butterflies, Butterfly, Daneway Banks, Gloucestershire, Large Blue, Lepidoptera, Macro, Photography
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