Monday, 17 October 2011

Grafton Wood Brown Hairstreaks PT1

The brown hairstreak is probably one of uks most beautifull and elusive butterflies, like most hairstreaks they are very rarely seen unless you look in specific areas and at a right time!
they spend most of their time either feeding high up in ash trees on honeydew or egg laying on blackthorn bushes. 
the brown hairstreak is only found in localised areas in the south of England and a couple sites in Worcestershire and more recently warwickshire, but that is another story.

I decided to travel a round trip of 284 miles down to Grafton wood in Worcestershire on August 14th  to hopefully see them for the first time!    i had found out they had started emerging the previous week so hoped to see at least one!

after walking around for one and a half hours the only thing i found was a bush cricket!    i have never seen speckled bush crickets so was good to shoot one.

then after finding a clearing in the centre of the wood i found a few brown argus, Aricia agestis   another species i had yet to see.  previously only seen the norther brown argus, a separate species.

i then met a couple who asked me to identify a butterfly they had photographed on their way into the wood, on looking on cameras screen it was in fact a brown hairstreak,  and they kindly told me exactly the area they spotted it.    i had in fact walked past the spot but about two hours previously!
i made my way back to the blackthorn hedgerow near the woods entrance , and within a few minutes saw my first Brown Hairstreak, Aricia agestis.   absolutely stunning !   what a sight shining in the bright mid day sun.

here is the first image , i only managed about four shots  but nailed the first two!

i followed her as she flew over the hedgerow and eventually settled low enough for me to shoot a good close view!

this is the spot where the second image was shot, and this spot becomes very important in the second trip the following weekend which i will mention in pt2.

 here she is in all her glory!  WOW

I think this species has made the biggest impression on me this year , so special to actually see this stunningly beautifull butterfly, especially in this prestine newly emerged condition!  
I could now enjoy the rest of the day having photographed the target species , i walked back towards the wood through the orchard area, where i spotted another three flying around the tops of the blackthorn hedgerow but could not get close to them.

Back in the wood i found quite a few bush crickets,  and shot these on my finger!  which is quite difficult holding camera in  one hand while trying to keep the cricket on finger!   lol

and finally a beautifull small tortoiseshell ,Aglais urticae  , a common but beautifull butterfly which is so often overlooked by photographers in search of rarer species.

and a small copper  Lycaena phlaeas feeding on ragwort

on walking back through the wood , a male brown hairstreak was spotted feeding on angelica, so had to shoot him!  lol

as you can see , the males are not as bright in colour compared to the beautifull females

and that ended the day,  in total i saw six brown hairstreaks, AMAZING !!!!!!   

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