Monday, 24 September 2012

Silver Spotted Skippers in Oxfordshire 19th Aug 2012

On a scorching hot Sunday , yes i did say that !   haha , well into the 30s which very rarely happens in the uk .  a trip down to Aston Rowant in Oxfordshire was planned. yes it is a long drive , about 180 miles  but to see a possible two new species of butterfly it was worth it. very easy to get to the reserve as it sits right next to the m40 London motorway.
I arrived at the car park at about 9.40 am , temperature was already 25 degrees! here is the info sign in car park.

 taking the low path , and why not i thought ,since i hadn't a clue where to go anyhow.  heading to the lower slopes near to the motorway , coming out into the sunshine into a meadow i could see butterflies everywhere!  amazing to see, it was quite breezy as usual but on this steep hillside was going to be a real pain to photograph anything.

almost immediately i spotted my first ever Chalkhill Blue flying past amongst the long grass :)  talking to a local i was told the Silver Spotted Skippers are numerous half way up the slope.  so making my way up the steep slope it wasn't long before seeing my first ever, two new species in less than 10 minutes  Yay!.   here is my first one :)

here is the view , completely different to the usual places i visit , no mountains  lol  and apart from where i am, very flat!

eventually i managed to get close to a silver , they were very hyper active in the heat , this is going to be a long hot day i thought,  especially having to chase butterflies up and down this slope! Arghh

The Chalkhill blues were all looking a little tatty unfortunately , this one isn't too bad , perched on what looks like a ground thistle, which are all over the slopes and are really spiky on the arms while lying down to shoot the butterflies!  itchy, itchy  lol

                                              top wing shot , a little wing damage though!

For the next couple hours , i chased them all over this dam hillside , the heat was unbearable and the skippers just wouldn't stay still.  the only time they did was when a male was following a female and the pair sat for fairly long periods.  here are a few shots of a couple of "courting pairs"  :D

Around mid day it was baking hot,  too hot to chase all over the place so i sat down near a patch of flowers and waited !  managed to shoot firstly a rather nice Chalkhill blue , then a Silver  :)

Then , i noticed a strange looking fly feeding . looked like a hover fly so managed a few ok ish shots.   it has since been identified as Stratiomys potamida male (Banded General) - which is Nationally Scarce.

and a Harvestman spider , i always have trouble shooting these , legs are too long!   but really like this image :)

 Any way , back to the butterflies :)     it is soooo hot climbing up and down this hill!    to hot!   a quick shot of a Brown Argus , a tiny butterfly . i have shot the Northern Brown Argus at Arnside Knott which is a separate species.

            i got lucky , as usual and managed to shoot a silver spotted skipper on my finger , so tiny :)

                                            and a few Chalkhill blue shots , female first , then a male.

Love these seed heads, no idea what they are though!

and a crab spider patiently waiting for a meal :D

while chasing a "courting couple"  lol   i managed to find this Silver Spotted Skipper appearing to be laying eggs , had to lie flat on ground to get this low level shot :)

   then a Meadow Brown, it has been a very good year for this species almost everywhere in the country , while most other species have declined.

                                   the steep slopes were covered in tiny Hairbells , sooooo pretty 

                                      Finally i managed a single skipper on a seed head :)

 my final image is a female Chalkhill Blue, appears different in colour to all the others i have seen today.

the end of a rather uncomfortable days shooting ,  just tooooo hot for shooting butterflys , and for hill running  lol.  but to see two new species that i havnt seen before it was well worth it:)  this will probably be one of the last butterfly trips of the year, only Brown Hairstreak left to shoot now.
                                                its so sad the season is nearly over :(

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


  1. Lovely photos as per, Phil. I particularly like the itchy itchy one and the hairbell.
    Oh now - what do you photograph/chase in the winter?

  2. Hi Phil
    I love the photos on the colourful flowers and the one on your finger is so tiny!
    I agree with Tracey - I like the Hairbell photo as well. I tried to take a picture a bit like that the other day - somehow it just doesn't look the same!
    The visions of you running up and down the hill are hilarious!
    So yes - what do you photograph in the winter? Good question Tracey!