Today I'm going into Shropshire to Prees Heath to hopefully shoot the Silver Studded Blues emerging with the ants, like i do every year. Its truly fascinating to watch this amazing co dependance between the butterflies and the ants :)
Arriving a bit late at about 8 am , but i know the best emergence time is usually between 10 and 12 o'clock, it is later in the month than i normally visit but it has been a bit cool so hopefully I'm not to late!
I am walking down the main path through the trees to the best area to find them emerging, in the very short bell heather , i soon find a motionless female which is quite strange as usually there are loads of males looking for the females and they are the ones to be seen first. it is quite cloudy but warm and so far i have not seen any flying.
Suddenly as i am lying on the ground shooting the female above, a Small Heath flys past and lands quite close , i shuffle a few feet and manage this shot before it takes of :D
I have now found yet another female perched on the heather flowers :) beautiful strong silvery blue studd markings on this one :)
This is the area they should be emerging in, the very low heather in the middle left area in this image, this is where the ants nest and the butterfly's will crawl out of the nest along with the ants which will then "clean" the butterfly as its wings unfold. this can take between 4-8 minutes for the wings to fully unfold but the ants may stay around quite some time afterwards.
Here is a male coming out , there are ants everywhere , must be a big nest under here and I'm going to get covered in the dam things lol
Up he crawls , i have ants on my arms and all over my camera now! Arghhhh
Time to put the canon mpe-65 macro lens and flash set up on now for some high magnification shots , i really want to get both the ants and butterfly eyes in focus in an image, which is going to be very difficult with the ants moving so fast!
Almost did it in this one :) there are loads of ants climbing all over this male.
Haha peek - a - boo Ant :D
Just got the image i wanted Yay After shooting almost 380 frames so far today!
" Face to Face"
Another male coming out of the same nest , i am getting covered in ants and have got to move from this nest as they are getting quite agitated and biting now :(
Managed to get this with the mpe :)
"A bit Crowded here"
Moving away and brushing all the ants of me, i go back to the first male which has now fully expanded his wings and most of the ants have now left him alone .
The beautiful heather flowers , these taller plant have loads of Silver studds perched up resting until the sun comes and and they start flying.
A mating pair :)
clearly showing the colour difference between them ,the brown female and blue male.
A male with his wings open in the long heather.
I have found another couple of males emerging, it is almost mid day now but is getting warmer with the sun coming out occasionally :)
A lovely female in the sun , love the look of these two images :)