After seeing my first brown hairstreak in Oxfordshire last week, I travelled less than half the miles to Ipswich in Suffolk to seek more. The site is called Piper’s Vale and is a local nature reserve. It is a beautiful site covered in wild flowers with lots of blackthorn scrub, the hairstreak’s food plant. The surroundings leave a little bit to be desired, in the shadow of the A14 Orwell Bridge and one side (although well screened) industry and a rather pungent sewage works.
I met a local at the car park who was very kind in sharing his knowledge. We searched the best looking areas, two pairs of eyes are better than one, many common blues were on the wing including females with a lot of blue, something I’ve been wanting to photograph for some time.
The sun and warmth had also brought out several clouded yellows. This part of East Anglia is particularly good for these scarce migrants and I got loads of images, even watched a pairs courtship display deep in the grass. The yellows don’t hang about long to nectar and were tricky to photograph, get it in focus and it’s gone to the next flower.
A wave of an arm, a hairstreak had been located. She allowed a very close approach, either nectaring, or when she flew up to a hawthorn, I got some super shots. These butterflies were introduced here a few years ago, the numbers are not high so any sighting is good, this lady was pristine.
When my fellow enthusiast left I went for another look and re-found the hairstreak. She had a shorter tail on the left wing. It was a bit more active now and I lost sight briefly and then spotted her again except this one had two long tails and slightly worn wing fringes, two females!
Watched this second butterfly for a while, when she finished nectaring she flew to a near-by blackthorn and proceeded to lay eggs in the joints of new shoots, magic!
As I was leaving I couldn’t resist more shots of clouded yellows, it might be sometime before I see another.