If you happen to be a regular reader you might be aware that my luck with Dark Green Fritillaries hasn't been great. For years I've been looking for roosting individuals and I had a great moment last year when I found one just as I was about to head home after a fruitless few hours. This year started very well with two very fresh fritillaries found at the start of July but since then I've fallen back into the doldrums with none found since. That was the case until Wednesday evening when I found at least five butterflies going to roost in the early evening. A painfully early morning followed and whilst I found a few of the same butterflies roosting, it was incredibly humid and very windy. An awful combination as the butterflies were in no mood to stay still and couldn't if they wanted too! I gave up with photography and found a few more specimens so at least my eye was in. To add insult to injury, it began to piddle down so I made a hasty retreat home for coffee and breakfast.
I left this one to it after a bit and decided to try my luck elsewhere and as hinted at in the title of this post, I soon stumbled upon yet another Dark Green Fritillary and this one looked super fresh! I got set-up and after a few minutes the weather took a turn for the worst and it began raining fairly heavily. I gave serious thought to packing up and making a run for it but given how much time I'd invested in looking for these butterflies over the years I couldn't let this opportunity pass so I persevered. Over the next hour or so the rain eventually passed and whilst things didn't brighten up, there were moments when the wind dropped and I had a brilliant session with plenty of images obtained. Below are my favourites and despite being really pleased with these, I STILL had that yearning to get out again for more, hopefully with better light...
Come Sunday morning, I'd decided to have another session with the fritillaries and the forecast was a lot better so I set off to the usual spot under clear skies. It was nice and cool with a nice dew blanketing the grasses and flowers and just a light breeze so I was hopeful of some slightly different shots. My eye is obviously in this year (or there are a lot more butterflies about) as I found three roosting fritillaries within just a few minutes of searching, all covered in dew though some more sheltered than others, with the following phone image an example of one.
I loved how much dew was on this one so carefully got set up and managed to just about get my tripod in a position that allowed a nice clean background (with some rogue grasses stems pinned back). I opted to go for super detail and went nice and close on the head of the butterfly, giving the following image.
During the next 90 minutes or so I found numerous others at roost, with some appearing out of nowhere on flowerheads I'd already checked, so I can only assume they were waking up and climbing out of the undergrowth as things warmed up. I'd really hoped to get a roosting fritillary against some sunlit grasses in the background but it wasn't to be sadly, as the temperate soon had the butterflies active. Here are a few of the shots I did manage, albeit of a similar tone to those captured previously. The dew does add a nice touch though, so I won't complain!
At around 9am, Dad joined me and we decided to have a walk around the Prestbury Hill reserve before heading over to Lineover Woods in search of Silver-Washed Fritillary and White Admiral. We'd not gone far before we noticed a stunning Silver-washed Fritillary nectoring on the brambles next to the path. So much for needing to go elsewhere! It moved about a fair bit but it eventually landed nice and close although I had no chance of getting a shot with my camera due to the angle it was at. I'd taken delivery of a new phone a few days prior so decided to give that a go and it performed brilliantly, allowing me to get nice and close and get pretty much every part of the butterfly in focus. The below shot is unedited and uncropped.
We then carried on, with Dad finding a cracking Emperor dragonfly on the path. A real beauty but it didn't hang around. A few more Silver-Washed Fritiallaries were seen and by now it was very warm so nothing was settling. The camera remained packed away but it was great to see everything buzzing about, with a lovely male Chalkhill Blue of note, along with numerous sightings of the usual suspects, including 10+ Dark Green Fritillaries.
We then decided to move on to Lineover Woods and spent a good couple of hours exploring the southern half of the reserve. Plenty of Silver-Washed Fritillaries seen (no decent pics sadly) but no White Admirals and no hairstreaks (which would've been a bonus) but a great walk all the same with some stunning views.
Here's Dad enjoying the view after an unpleasant and steep climb!
Keywords: Butterflies, Butterfly, Butterfly Photography, Cleeve Hill, Dark Green Fritillary, Dave Collins, Gloucestershire, Macro, Photography, Wildlife
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