Swallowtail Time

(or, Visiting Old Friends ptII)

One of the joys of living in our part of Norfolk is that in late spring/early summer  the UK’s largest, most colourful butterfly can be seen.  Of course you need to know where to look, they don’t pop up everywhere.  You also need our old friend the un-predictable weather to be favourable.  A good spell of warm, sunny and wind free conditions will bring this enigmatic insect out of it’s pupa deep in the reedbeds to grace the area we call ‘Broadland’

What it’s all about, the ‘Norfolk’ Swallowtail (Papilio machaon ssp britannicus) perhaps my best shot to date

Last weekend was ideal so a trip to my favourite haunt Hickling Broad was in order.  The usual area was disappointing, there had been clearance work over winter and few nectar flowers were available.  A few hundred yards further on and there was a good amount of Red Campion and with it a newly emerged, mint condition Swallowtail eagerly fueling up.  This beauty allowed plenty of photo opportunities.

Pushing the shutter up to 1/1000th almost freezes the action. Those wings are nearly always fluttering

The dragonfly season is also now in full swing.  The early species were dominated by the Four-spotted Chasers (Libellula quadrimaculata).  I have never seen so many in one place, almost swarm like!

Fresh Four-spotted Chaser, one of thousands
Male Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa)

As well as these ‘old friends’ there were a couple of surprises.  Firstly a butterfly that has been in very low numbers in my part of the world and I have never seen at this site, the Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera).

The Wall Brown, a small butterfly that nearly always is seen sunning itself on the ground (or walls!)

So, a small brown bird sitting in an alder tree.  I was so pleased to get this shot even though I was using my macro lens!  This is a Cetti’s Warbler (Cettia cetti).  This bird first bred in the UK in 1972 and unlike all the other warblers (except one) does not migrate.  As an insect eater it’s population could crash in harsh winters.  The thing is the Cetti’s is extremely difficult to see, keeping deep inside vegetation by rivers or ditches.  It gives away it’s presence by it’s explosive call repeating the cetti name (though it was named after an 18th century Italian zoologist, Francesco Cetti).  An unusual fact, this is the only UK bird with 10 tail feathers, good luck trying to count them!

All in all a great day out and I’m glad to get my upload issues sorted so I could share it.


41 thoughts on “Swallowtail Time

    1. Make hay when the sun shines, I believe that’s the phrase Mike.
      As for the issue, after going through various processes I had to disconnect from the internet and re-boot the modem. As someone not computer literate I was getting very frustrated with all the tech lingo! But hey it worked.


  1. I know you were happy to get the computer issue sorted! Frustrating stuff. We have found it useful to keep a ten-year old around at all times to fix such things. Alas, we are fresh out of those so we slap the monitor and curse a lot.

    Well! The actual images are MUCH better than my imagination conjured!

    That first photograph – wow! Spectacular detail.

    Butterflies, dragons and for dessert you served up a rare warbler!

    Totally worth the wait. Have a great weekend, Brian!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful shots and that swallowtail! Gorgeous! Very interesting about your warbler. It’s a treat when you can photograph something that shy and elusive. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I really enjoyed hearing about and seeing your springtime beauties, Brian. Crisp clear photo of the swallowtail is a treat, lovely to see the dragonflies, and what a pleasure to capture an elusive warbler in the open.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yup technically the season has started but I guess the butterflies just stay in hiding due to the heat or something…


  4. Good to hear the upload issues are past you – I’m still trying to catch up from my absence. Beautiful Swallowtail – I like its little dash of ruby. Sounds like a great catch on the warbler. Counting the tail feathers would be an absolute nightmare ha. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah pc sorted (disconnect from interweb and re-boot modem or some such foreign lingo)
      Super pleased to get the Cetti’s even though the picture not too sharp.
      Thanks for dropping over B.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s