Black Hairstreak at Glapthorn

It pays to sit it out!

21st of June.  Patience and optimism, key words for the day.  Making the most of my holiday I decided to pay an afternoon visit to Glapthorn Cow Pastures near Oundle in Northants.  The hope was to see the rare black hairstreak which can only be found in a few woods in a band from Oxford to Peterborough.  A notice on the gate stated that they had emerged early in small numbers and the flight season (which only lasts 2-3 weeks) was probably over.

Black hairstreak, the first sighting

Undeterred I wandered into the woods seeing many large skippers, ringlets, meadow browns and a smart silver washed fritillary.  It was breathless in the high temperature.  Soon found the area where the hairstreaks are most often seen and joined a few others from around the country to chat and wait.

Glapthorn ringlet

After two hours with a slight drop in the heat I spotted our target as it descended from a tall ash tree where they spend the day out of sight.  Shame it looks as though it had survived a bird attack but it is my first ever sighting.

Half an hour later another came down, this one was immaculate.  Photographs were slightly difficult as it spent most of the time deep in the bush only appearing briefly on top before heading back up its tree.  We left for home elated!

Pristine black hairstreak, optimism pays off!


Cumbrian Butterflies

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Small pearl bordered fritillary on Arnside Knott

June 17th 2017.  Two days in Cumbria before picking up the daughter from Manchester.  Arrived Friday very grey and windy.  Saturday beautiful, sunny and warm a chance to visit a couple of places to look for new butterflies.  See the HOME page for an account and portfolio of images.

Swallowtail at Hickling

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Swallowtail butterfly. A Norfolk treasure

15th June 2017.  Lovely walk at Hickling Broad this morning. Only a couple of sightings of our beautiful swallowtail butterfly, unlike ten days ago when they were all along the Weavers Way.  I spotted this one in dappled shade nectaring on bramble and thought it made a nice shot.

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Broadland icon, what’s not to like?

There was a good number of Norfolk Hawker dragonflies on the wing but they would not settle.  However I stopped at East Ruston Common on the way home and got the image of the one below.

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Norfolk hawker at East Ruston

Off to Cumbria for the weekend, hopefully some new sightings to image.

Warham Treat

Clouded yellow an uncommon migrant

June 2nd 2017.  Made an early visit to Warham Camp near Wells-next the-Sea in North Norfolk.  I love this iron age hillfort.  It is a tranquil place, and as you approach the big ring ditches carved out of the chalk next to the river Stiffkey, you can only but wonder about the people who created this over 2000 years ago.

Male common blue

Today it is a lovely place for wildlife.  The huge banks are carpeted in beautiful wild flowers. These in turn attract many insects and of course my favorites, butterflies.

Later in the summer it is chalkhill blues but today I went in search of common blue and brown argus.  On my first circuit of the inner ditch all I could find was two painted ladies.  These are gorgeous migrants all the way from north Africa, they posed nicely for the camera.

Painted lady after long journey north

The sun soon got stronger and this brought out my target species.  On my next lap I found several male common blues shining like jewels.  Then brown argus, much smaller and difficult to follow.  Managed to get some nice shots and decided to move on.  I started to walk across the meadow when a dark yellow butterfly appeared. Blast me bor ( or words to that effect) a clouded yellow!  I have not seen one for years let alone get a picture.  These are uncommon migrants from the continent.  It settled to nectar, I fired of as many shots as I could before it was up and away not to be seen again.  Luckily two images are quite acceptable (the originals are a lot sharper than those that appear on this blog) I also have one showing the upper wing (they always settle with wings closed) as it took off but it’s not very sharp even at 1000th sec shutter speed!  Hopefully the summer will bring more chances.

Brown argus at Warham Camp

Hickling Dragons

Marsh harrier over a hot and hazy Hickling Broad

May 26th 2017.  Today I decided to keep local and pay my first visit of the year to Hickling Broad.  For any visitor to Norfolk ,or if you are local, this is a lovely walk at this time of the year.  I use the Weavers Way footpath on the south side of the Broad.  Starting at Decoy Road and head east to Rush Hills, for a longer walk you can carry on to the River Thurne.

Female broad bodied chaser

There is lots of different wildlife to see along here in late spring especially if you go fairly early in the morning.  The reed beds are alive with the song of reed and sedge warblers, reed buntings and the ping of bearded tits.  Overhead magnificent marsh harriers hunt and today I was lucky to see common crane and a dashing hobby.

Male hairy dragonfly

I spent most of my visit watching and photographing dragon and damselflies.  There were lots of four spot chasers and several broad bodied chasers.  I noticed a few hairy dragonflies, a species not that common,  this is the earliest and smallest of the hawkers to emerge, and they rarely settle, the image above is the only shot I managed.

Blue tail damsels

There were lots of damselflies in certain areas, azure, blue tail and large red.  Its great to get images of these delicate creatures, when enlarged the detail is stunning.

I had hoped to see my first swallowtail butterfly of the year but it was not to be despite the clear blue skies and hot temperatures.

Sedge warbler at Hickling

Fritillary Spectacle

Marsh fritillary

May 23rd.  The next target for 2017 is marsh fritillary.  For this I traveled north into Lincolnshire to Chambers farm wood near Wragby.  The day was a stunning success with these beautiful insects.

For more images and full account there is a potfolio on the HOME page.DSC_0189a