Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Heath Fritillaries

There is nothing better than local information when it comes to finding a scarce, even rare, subject. Martin and I had decided to visit East Blean to find a Heath Fritillary. I asked Mike Hook for some help and he came up with the goods. Precise directions to a woody glade somewhere in Blean Woods. Thanks Mike we owe you one.

When we arrived the weather was warm and overcast with just a hint of sunshine and the promise of better conditions on the horizon. As we entered a glade in the woods Martin spied the first specimen. Not sure, but I think our small wager on who discovers our quarry first has led to an improvement in Martin's eyesight. A single specimen perched in the grass and I hadn't got my camera out, slight panic set in as I didn't want to blow the opportunity of capturing such a rarity. Ha! - slowly it dawned on us that they were everywhere, hidden in the grass and Cow Wheat, one careless step could destroy several of Britain's rarest butterflies.

We had arrived in a photographer's nirvana - abundant perfect specimens posing in splendid locations. Martin discovered that if you blew on the open winged butterfly it would obligingly adopt a close winged pose, I hasten to add that when the sun came out and the butterflies livened up a tad this tactic failed abysmally.

Previously Mike had estimated 40 specimens present, well today it was a hundred plus and I reckon two hundred would be nearer the mark as, when we took a walk around the adjacent rides, we found isolated pockets of the population. An abiding memory of this venue is that when the sun shone strongly the butterflies performed a magical dance above the grass, all desperately searching for a mate. Never before have I recorded so many butterflies on a single plant, Martin's maximum was seven and I counted six, which I managed to capture - albeit with dodgy focus.

This is "Ted Heath", whilst I was conducting some judicious "gardening" to improve a shot, Ted obligingly alighted on my index finger and stayed for several minutes whilst I wandered about the woods.

Common Cow Wheat the butterfly's food source.
 No apologies for the huge amount of photographs - the subject was simply stunning. I just hope I have done it justice.


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