Thursday, 31 May 2012

The Dukes of Gate Barrows & a Challenge on a Mountain may 16th PT1

I have always wanted to see the rare Duke of Burgundy butterfly, so seeing that they where being seen down in the south of the country i thought that the small population up at Gate Barrows in cumbria  might be worth a look for, and even if i didn't see any at least i could climb a mountain in the afternoon:))
So after  driving up the m6 early one morning ,i arrived at the Gait Barrows car park to find a sign saying that the Ladies Slipper Orchids were in flower :)))  Yay  another subject to photograph.

From the car park there were signs to follow to see the orchids , so that was the first place to start, i have only visited the reserve a few times so don't know my way around very well!
Here is the limestone pavement where the orchids and a lot of the butterflies are found. The weather was quite warm and fairly bright sun , but with patchy cloud appearing later in the morning!

                                                                           The sign :)

Here is the only Orchid that was open!!   it has been so cold that they are well behind last year, in fact this time last year they had almost all finished flowering!  11 frames focus stacked handheld.

I made my way from this area across to the main limestone pavement, amazing to see with its deep fissures and cracks!

                                  Here is a view of the cairn with its memorial plaque!

From this point i walked down through the meadow and around to the open clearings to see if i could find the butterflies!  after about of an hour of looking around, i had only seen a specked wood, a small copper and a peacock!

                          There where plenty of the common purple orchids to be seen

                           a few areas had been taped off and i came across this sign--

I met someone also looking for the Dukes and he had seen one earlier in the morning so had given me directions to where he had seen it.  So a walk back towards the orchids and then into the wooded area behind to where the areas with the Dukes colonies had been taped off!   i soon found a beefly:)

                                                         Amazingly it perched on my finger!

                          Any how , a few minutes later i spotted a " DUKE"   Yay!!!!

A male perched on a grass stem, the bright sun was very difficult to shoot in , but i got these few record shots! this long shot shows how tiny they are!  this is normal thin grass stems!

                                                          Here is the area they are found in

    and a about half hour later, one feeding on a small daisy type flower!  pity about the wing damage!

    So after finally seeing these tiny butterflies, it was time for a mountain to climb :)  Fairfield was the intended target which is part of the Helvelyn range .  the subject of next of blog :)

                                         images shot with canon 5d2 and 100mm L macro.


  1. Beautiful photos Phil! I especially love the orchid and the fly perched on your finger :-)

  2. More wonderful images and a good tale to accompany them too Phil.
    I really enjoy your posts.
    Glad you persevered and found the orchid and the Dukes (they don't look anything like John Wayne though!)

  3. Wow, another butterfly I've never heard of! Lovely wee things. So glad you found them.