As discussed in my last post I'm turning to butterflies for solace during the lean summer months. I was particularly keen to catch up with some of the rarer spring butterflies and whilst I'd managed to see Dingy and Grizzled Skippers on my last visit I was still keen to catch up with Duke of Burgundy and Green Hairstreak and accordingly had been casting around for advice on this. The best site for Dukes seems to be Invinghoe Beacon between Tring and Dunstable but this is a bit of a trek from Oxford. However, Peter Law kindly pointed me in the direction of a small reserve where Dukes had been re-introduced recently and where he'd had some success last week. Accordingly with the weather forecast to deteriorate over the coming days I thought that I'd take advantage of the sunshine while I could and decided to have a go there today.
The reserve turned out to be a lovely relatively small patch of chalk grassland, full of wild flowers and grasses, with some small hawthorn bushes scattered about and bordered by woodland. On the bird front there were quite a few Red Kites flying around and I heard a calling Marsh Tit whilst I was there. I wandered about a bit before bumping into a more seasoned butterfly-er who managed to find a couple of Dukes for me. Whilst tramping around on my own I also managed to find several Dingy and Grizzled Skippers, one Small Blue, one Common Blue and quite a few day-flying months including Burnet Companion and lots I didn't recognise. I was also delighted to stumble across a Green Hairstreak. For those readers who aren't already familiar with this species, it flies like a month (i.e. very fluttery) and looks dull brown on top but with the most amazing iridescent green underwing. As soon as it lands it turns its wings sideways to face the sun, presumably to gather the maximum warmth. They're not particularly rare though can be rather elusive and consequently tough to find.
After my poor photographic attempts last time I decided to concentrate on using the super-zoom and not to get too close as quite frankly the Canon's macro mode is a bit rubbish. The results look OK though none of them is your classic butterfly shot with either wings fully out or full side-on underwing shot and there are blades of grass etc. across the subject in a lot of cases. I actually think that this lends a much more natural look and greater interest to the shot than the classic pose though I expect that I'm just making excuses for my poor photographic ability! Anyway, I was pleased to catch up with these spring species, especially as it's getting rather late for them. Whilst chatting to the other 'fly-er he was telling me about all the places one could go to see the more exotic species and it's easy to see how one can get draw into this whole other world of butterfly chasing. I'm enjoying seeing stuff at present though I do still wonder about maintaining interest over a number of years after one has seen all the species. Time will tell.
Burnet Companion - the only moth there that I actually recognised!
Dingy Skipper with lots of grass in the way
The lovely iridescent Green Hairstreak
some non-classic Duke of Burgundy photos