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.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Whixall Moss Butterflies & Bees May 14th

Another trip to whixall moss on the welsh/Shropshire border.  it was a warm day , still a bit breezy but hopefully the green hairstreaks will be in a nice mood to be photographed :))
a quick look at the normal section just on the moss at the crossroads produced nothing , so a fast walk along to the canal section i shot all the butterflies on the previous week.  it appears that most of the dandelion flowers that lined the towpath had gone over , which drastically reduces the number of opportunities to shoot bees !  but plenty of blossom :)

It was soon evident that butterfly numbers where way down on the previous week , a brief glimpse of a holly blue was all i spotted, but soon found a few recently emerged large red Damselflies , which perched very nicely:)

Eventually i came to the wooden platform where all the green hairstreaks where last week!   they were still there , but very flighty and took a lot of chasing lol , but eventually managed a few good shots.

They really are a beautiful species :)   and amazingly i managed to get one on my finger!!!!!!

A Cold Bee needed warming up!

Leaving this area to continue down to the end section to hopefully find some Dandelion flowers to shoot some miner bees. but just a few meters down the tow path and i spotted a Hairstreak feeding on a daisy flower! i have never seen this before and spent about 5 minutes shooting it , just had to get a good shot of this!

At the bottom end there where plenty of the required flowers , but first a female Orange tip was feeding!    it stayed in the same position for ages , so managed to focus stack a few frames on this image!

I soon found the miner bees , a passing cloud cooled the temperature down enough for this one to stay still while i shot it with mpe-65 macro lens at about x4 magnification:)  what a wonderful image!  my fav of the day.

Then i found a cold Nomada bee , that wanted to be warmed up also:D  most Miner & Nomada species need warmth to fly , so when a cloud blocks the sun, the Bees cool down sufficiently to prevent them flying!
5 frames focus stacked to increase depth of field, shot one handed by resting mpe lens barrel on my palm while shooting!  holding finger in front of a dandelion flower for background colour!

And yet another cold Miner bee , which looked like it had curled up to sleep inside the flower!  lol

Enough of shooting the Bees , these few shots were more than i expected so back looking for Butterflies :)    Brimstones were noticeable by their absence but eventually found one perched nicely:)

And finally , an Orange tip feeding hard, which allowed me to shoot its portrait at high magnification with mpe lens, focus stacked 5 frames , f6.3 iso 100  handheld, resting left elbow on knee to brace camera to keep frames aligned.

                                                 The end of another great days shooting:)

                               all images shot with canon 5d2,100mmL & mpe-65 macro lens                  

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Pearls of the Wyre Forest 13 th May

One of the Main butterfly species i didn't get around to seeing last year were the Pearl Bordered Fritillaries .  so as soon as i heard they where emerging, a bit later than expected due to the unusually cold weather we have been having the last few months!  A trip to the Wyre forest on the Worcestershire/Shropshire borders ,the area around Bewdley i headed for.  i had been sent a map with the best areas marked for the PBF s so that was a great help as the forest is about 6000 acres! 
After a 96 mile journey i arrived in the forest at about 9 am , the best area was only about 10 mins from car park  , so not too bad, but would i find the butterflies?  as they had only just started emerging the numbers where unknown, but the sun was trying its best to shine , but was still quite cold and windy!

                  What a beautiful forest!    Bluebells all around glistening in the early morning sun :)

I soon found the Pipeline area and started looking, almost immediately i spotted my first ever PBF :)

I was expecting them to be bigger!!!!!    presuming they would have been larger than the "small pearl bordered"  Weird!  go figure that one out!   newly emerged ,scales glistening in the sunlight!  bright sun not the best for photographing butterflies!

And one feeding on Bugle.

Now, having shot a few of my main target species , I'm off for a walk , i took a path off the pipeline and found a wonderful bluebell area!

and one of our most beautiful butterflies, the Peacock which is so overlooked in favour of less common species!

I made my way down to an area called "Dowles brook"  in the hope of seeing a few more species . the stream runs through the centre of the forest and water always attracts different species and flowers.

A Crab spider feeding on a march fly:)  shot with mpe-65 macro lens.

                                                   And a shield bug on a bluebell flower :)

                  and a close up shot of one of the many wild flowers that cover the forest floor!

feeding on the wild flowers were quite a few Beeflys , amazing to watch hovering effortlessly while feeding!

Making my way back towards the first area , i crossed a small bridge at the bottom of the valley and there, resting on one of the wooden handrails on the bridge was a Nursery web spider , so i just had to take its photo :)  

I made my way back up the steep track ,  where a few PBFs feeding on Bugle and Dandelion flowers all along the path edges which was great to see , very flighty though but did manage to get this single shot:)              looking back down the steep track.

  I came past the Bluebell area , its always really great to walk through a bluebell wood at this time of year, spring at its best :))

Now i was back at the main pipeline area , this is where large water pipes are buried which carry water from wales down to the midlands area.  the large open glides created a superb habitat with bracken and the violet flowers that the PBF caterpillars feed on .

While the sun was out it remained quite windy and cool, but the fritillaries where still feeding  and flitting in and out of the main ride. 

I suddenly noticed something  small and brown fly past me,  it turned out to be a Dingy skipper, the first one i have ever seen Yay!  it appeared they had very recently emerged and where fairly easy to follow, but i found them very hard to get decent photographs of!

                                To finish of the days shooting , a couple more PBF shots :)

I had really enjoyed my first visit to this beautiful forest , and i think it will become one of my favorite places to shoot , even though it is quite a long way from home!   i had not got the images of the butterflies i was hoping for , but that just means another visit very soon:)))

                                shots taken with canon 5d2, 100mmL and mpe-65 macro lens