Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Black Hairstreak

Yesterday we got to see the Black Hairstreak butterflies at Bernwood Forest near Oxford. They were a life tick and it seemed like a great day. That was until we got home and found that we had missed ten Bee Eaters in Sussex. There was nothing we could have done about it, which is just as well, as I am not sure which I would have chosen if I had to pick between the two.

We were lucky to find the Black Hairstreaks. The weather had been poor on the way up but started to brighten up as we got there. The forest is large and we would have had little chance of finding the colony if Dave had not been able to get information on it from a contact.

Even then, when you were standing in the right spot, they were hard to see. Much of their time is spent feeding on honey dew in the tops of large trees and they only occasionally come down to nectar, usually on the flowers of Wild Privet. We probably saw about six specimens with a maximum of three flying at any one time. Only one of them came down to eye level and gave good photographic opportunities and as you would expect that was a really tatty specimen. All my shots were taken with a 400mm Telephoto lens with the macro staying in the bag all day.

First record shot

You always feel a lot happier once you have that first record shot. You can then relax and start the endless process of trying to get a decent picture. The shot above was actually the second Black Hairstreak that we saw, the first having been disturbed by a bee just as I was about to press the shutter release.

Not only were the butterflies staying high, they were also being silhouetted against a very bright sky making it hard to get a decent picture.

The very bright Wild Privet flowers do not help.

But at least most of the specimens we saw looked to be in good condition.

The shots of the Black Hairstreaks came out better than I had been expecting although you are rarely  satisfied with what you get. It feels good to have this one in the bag though, as I was expecting it to be a lot harder to find.

For once there are no other pictures. This was really a search for one butterfly. No mission creep, that could distract us from our target, being allowed. A succesful day, it's just a pity about the Bee Eaters.

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