Monday, 25 July 2016

Purple Hairstreak

Purple Hairstreaks but you'll not see much Purple here. They were coming down from the tree tops to nectar but they would not oblige with an open wing shot. This has always been one of my bogey butterflies. I see plenty of them but I just cannot get the pictures that I want.

We had travelled down to Alners Gorse, it being one of the best sites in the country to observe these butterflies. They normally frequent the tops of Alder and Oak trees feeding on honeydew deposited by aphids and have no need to come down to ground level. This limits your photographic opportunities.

There were plenty about and as the day warmed up a few started to come down to nectar, with the Alder Buckthorn appearing to be their favoured plant.

Once settled they are fairly docile and easy to approach to observe and photograph but they do tend to stay high in the bushes and you need to pick your spot to get the best views. You also of course need to get them to open their wings to see the purple colouration. They feed with their wings closed, although unusually for Hairstreaks they do occasionally bask in the sun with their wings open.

This is the closest I got to an open wing shot but it looks like a male which are a duller colour and it looks as though it is past its best. You also need to photograph it from above for the sun to pick out the purple colour.

There were of course a few fellow enthusiasts about to give you the usual message - "should have been here yesterday" - "Lots of Purples down low, and basking in the sun with open wings"

Can't really complain. We saw lots of butterflies and these are better pictures than I had at the start of the day.

I also snapped this Red Admiral. I didn't realise until I got home that it is an aberration. It has an extra white spot in the orange band on each forewing. Checking on the web it is ab. bialbata.

Perhaps the most surprising thing of the day was that we did not see a single blue butterfly all day. I really seems to have been a strange season.

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