2019 Butterfly Season
The first butterflies of the year emerged a number of months ago, and whilst I missed the start of the season, I've been doing my best to make amends and so far things have been very enjoyable with the usual suspects all seen and caught on camera.
My first venture out was to Cirencester Park in search of the Pearl-bordered Fritillary colony that resides there. I was very fortunate to arrive during a period of strong sun which resulted in me seeing a fritillary on the wing almost straight away. I managed to keep up with it and the sun was soon obscurred by cloud which put the butterfly down. It made a few short flights in the time I was there and during another period of warm sun it posed very nicely indeed. I made a return visit a week or so later but the weather wasn't favourable with the butterflies hyperactive and refusing to settle for photos due to the very warm conditions.
I later made a trip to Rodborough Common for the Duke of Burgundy and after a quick search I found a male and female zipping about. I didn't stay for too long and didn't manage any keepers but it was good to see them all the same.
My next session was a trip to Cleeve Hill - more to see what was about rather than for a dedicated photography session - so I left most of my camera gear at home and walked up to get a few steps in too. The climb is always an effort but the fresh air did me the world of good and during the few hours I was out for I managed to see varying numbers of Brown Argus, Common Blue, Small Blue, Small Copper, Green-veined White, Speckled Wood, Brimstone, Duke of Burgundy and the biggest surprise, a Wall Brown. A great walk in beautiful weather.
I returned for an after work session the following week and when I arrived at the Masts Reserve conditions were perfect. Nice soft light and not a hint of a breeze. Perfect for macro photography and I'd decided to target Small Coppers and Small Blues....if I could find them. The former proved elusive but the latter were plentiful. I don't remember finding so many before so it was great to see them doing so well. What wasn't so well by now was the weather. I'd found a roosting Small Blue in a lovely position and got my camera set-up but the light was deteriorating fast and the wind had picked up. There was a front moving in, visible from the top of the hill I was on and photography proved immensely frustrating with the butterfly I was attempting to shoot in and out of the viewfinder every few seconds thanks to its perch being blown about. I decided to call it quits and got back to the car just as the heavens opened. A despondent feeling but the forecast for the following morning looked good so I vowed for a pre-work, 5am alarm session!
I managed to get up in time and was back on location by 5.45am. Conditions were good, with the sky relatively clear so I began my search for roosting butterflies. It didn't take long to find them (aided by having found a number the evening before) so I ended up having a productive few hours and got some pleasing Small Blue images.
On the walk back to the car I found a very fresh Brown Argus warming up in the sun and it was positioned perfectly. The challenge was getting an open wing shot without blocking the sun and spooking it and after a bit of maneuvering I got a few shots that showed off this beautiful butterfly, with the below the best of the bunch.
My most recent session was again on Cleeve Hill, after work, and what a difference a week makes. The number of flowers had increased markedly, as had the number of butterflies. I lost count of how many Common Blues I found, with good numbers of Brown Argus and Small Blues also encountered. I did also find a female Adonis Blue but with the sun still out and conditions feeling quite warm, it didn't play ball and was lost from sight. I had a leisurely wander around the Masts Reserve and was able to take my pick when it came to Common Blues, with those roosting on well positioned and relatively clutter free perches the best of the bunch.
I'll never tire of photographing these fine little things and have said only recently that I feel like I'm retreading old ground (which I guess I am) but I still really enjoy getting out and looking for (and finding) something to shoot, however common or rare it may be, and capturing it on camera. That's the thing with wildlife photography though; there's always the excitement of not knowing what you'll find and when you'll find it. I can't ever imagine getting bored of the satisfaction of a successful search combined with getting some photos of ones chosen subject.
Keywords: Butterflies, Butterfly, Butterfly Photography, Cleeve Hill, Gloucestershire, Macro, Macro Photography, Nature, Photography, Wildlife
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