Iron Age Blues 2017

Chalkhill blue on horseshoe vetch



2017, with all butterfly emergence across the Country about 2 weeks early due to the warm, dry spring, I was slightly concerned that the chalkhill blues at Warham Camp, near Wells-next-the-Sea, were not showing.  However on my latest visit on the 21st of July a few were on the wing.

Beautiful male chalkhill blue



The day was mostly sunny and warm.  There was unfortunately a strongish south westerly wind.  With the Iron Age fort built on a prominent site over looking the Stiffkey valley it is not sheltered, even the slightest breeze sends the vegetation swaying.  Bad news for photographing small butterflies!  To make matters worse the big ring ditches act as wind tunnels and the wind direction can suddenly change within a few yards.

Flower rich inner ring ditch, the favoured area for chalkhill blues



I saw the first chalkhill blue in the inner ring ditch.  When there was a lull in the wind about a dozen males could be seen in one area fluttering weakly along the banks.  These were very fresh and in beautiful condition, as soon as the breeze strengthened they would hunker down among the grasses.

This female rejected a males courtship advances and took shelter on a thistle



I started off using my Tamron  70-300 as I don’t like to spook my subject, however due to the conditions decided to change to my Nikkor 18-140.  With a very careful approach I can get to within a foot. Getting this close eliminated those annoying grass stems blowing across the image.  I love this lens it’s very sharp, auto focus is quick and the detail superb.  It will never be as good as a macro lens but I can’t afford one of those just now.

Keeping low



With the chalkhills keeping low you had to be carefull where you trod!  Not so with the painted lady nectaring on thistles. A very smart second generation butterfly.

Second generation painted lady


Also from a second brood were the two wall browns in the lane leading to the camp, lovely butterflies, now quite scarce.  I still had my short lens on and was surprised I could get so close, they are usually very skittish.

The beautifully patterned under wing of the wall brown, superb camouflage
Watch where you tread!



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