Sunday, 30 September 2012

Grafton Wood in search of Butterflies and Bugs 20th aug 2012

It was now time to head off in search of my favourite butterfly , the Brown Hairstreak. it is later than i saw them last year and virtually no sightings had been reported at Grafton Wood in Worcestershire, but since it was going to be a nice day it had to be worth a trip as there are plenty of other things to shoot :)
arriving about 9.30am in the village of Grafton Flyford and parking by the church, i made my way through the farmyard and down to the wood.  the fields around the wood are mainly blackthorn, this is where the female Brown Hairstreaks will be seen.

Searching all the way along the only butterflies i have seen so far are meadow browns and this Gatekeeper.  not a sign of a hairstreak, but it is a little early for them, 11 - 2 pm best time so there was still a chance yet :)

continuing into the "orchard" area i first found a Large Horsefly perched on a fence post, i really love their eyes, so beautiful but deadly  lol  this portrait is shot with canon mpe-65 macro lens ,5 frames focus stacked to increase depth of field.i placed a green leaf behind to prevent a black background .

                   one of the many Meadow Browns feeding on a Teasel head , looking a bit tatty now !

after a good search though the orchard i have spotted a few migrant hawker dragonflies , and managed to get this image.  they have been a species that eluded me , often seeing them flying but never perching for a photo :)

I have decided to now walk through to the small pond just inside the wood ,near to the corner of the orchard , but suddenly spot a beautiful yellow crab spider waiting for a meal  , so on with the mpe again to shoot her :)      i cant hold a leaf behind to give background colour, so i shoot at higher iso ,  800 in this case,  to balance natural light with the flash preventing a complete black background.

after shooting her i walk down to the small pond , loads of migrant hawkers, common darters and a few ruddy darters are flying around but not perching!    also 3 hornets are hunting bees and i watch these for about half an hour, awesome to watch but they just don't settle for a pic unfortunately.  i do however find loads of Dark Bush Crickets , here is one image .

Time to look through the wood now, there is a central path right through the middle which i take , about half way along i turn left to go search for Brown Hairstreaks on the outer edge blackthorn.  i have always wondered why these two trees are out in the middle of this field?  strange

unfortunately no Hairstreaks are spotted , so back to the main path in the wood where i find in one very small area 6 newly emerged Brimstones .  i have never seen so many together before!

walking down the path there are loads of hoverflies and Bees feeding , a fox darts in front of me into the undergrowth! that's a pity, would have like a shot of one  lol    then while watching hovers i notice a bright blue flash!   it is one of the most beautiful flies there are , if you can call a fly beautiful haha  it is Phasia Hemiptera i very rarely see these , almost 2 years since i shot my last one so just have to get a shot this time.  luckily after a few moments i spot it feeding and get this single image  .

nearby there are more Dark Bush Crickets , and luckily i find this one perched on a single grass stem, superb perch for composition :)    this is my best image of the day!

down near the end of the main path is a large clump of flowers that in previous years male Brown Hairstreaks have been known to feed on , so i make my way to have a look.    unfortunately again no sign of any, but i did shoot this common darter dragonfly with long lens .

its been a long day of walking and searching , no sightings of my intended species but a good day none the less.  on the way back i shoot one of our most beautiful butterflies, the Peacock

                                                                   and a Small Copper

the end of another trip, i will be back in a week or 2 to hopefully see and photograph the Hairstreaks but it has been a good day.

                 all images shot with canon 5d2,100mmLmacro and Mpe-65 macro lens

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

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Tryfan mountain Scramble Adventure 6th August 2012

After all the butterflying i have been doing recently it was time for a change , a good scramble in the welsh mountains seemed a good idea .  so Tryfan fitted the bill :)    and great views down the valleys.  Tryfan 3,010 ft  is situated next to Lyn Ogwen in the Ogwen valley,  Snowdonia national park north Wales.
i arrived early in the morning, ish .   the weather forecast was for it to be dry with variable amounts of cloud and hill fog according to the mountain forecast , so not too bad.   here is the view just by the car park at the Ogwen cottages , i had decided to climb up via the waterfall path leading up to Llyn Bochlwyd , yes the scene of an earlier trip Here where i slipped and broke small bone in foot!!!!!!!!!!
must be careful this time i thought   lol

 a short distance from the road is the famous view up to the "devils kitchen" from the bridge over the Idwal waterfall :)

i make my way up the path until it splits and turns right to go up to Cym Idwal and the "kitchen"   makes a great composition :)  the "Devils Kitchen" amphitheatre surrounds the lake seen in the top of this image.  cloud looks like its building on the tops already, but there is still a few blue bits showing through the cloud!

Heading up towards the waterfalls that come down from Llyn Bochlywd , negotiating the very boggy ground and now looking back down the Nant Ffrancon valley

                                and up towards Tryfan on the left,and the waterfalls are visible straight ahead

                                 A shot looking down the valley from half way up the falls path

upon reaching the top , the boulder section that tried to kill me last time comes into view, this time i cross the stream on the rocks before it gets near to the lake which was much easier . but did stop,and carefully manage to take this image :)

                 a bit of blue sky showing through the low cloud , but don't think it will last long!

 Climbing high above Llyn Bochlwyd on the left side in this image , you can just see the end of Cym Idwal in the centre .   the views are stunning from up here , but will get even better as i scramble up to the summit of Tryfan :)

   looking down on Llyn Ogwen and Pen yr ole wen over to the right , Cym idwal left centre with Y Garn behind.

                                                                            What a view!

   Now its scrambling time :)     very enjoyable, steep slope of big huge boulders, one slip and a broken leg could quite easily happen!        

                Yip, this is scramble terrain , allot different to the Lakes walks i do :D

       The views are getting better now, after a good 15 mins clambering i take a rest and take a few shots:)                         (aka " a Tanya stop " as they are called from now on :) see HERE  for explanation )

        The summit of Tryfan is over to the right in this image , a long scramble still left to negotiate:)

          Looking down from the summit now , i will just let the images tell the story so to speak :)

in the clouds now :)

looking down the ridge of Glyder fach

Llyn Bochlwyd ,Cym Idwal and Y Garn

making my way back down now , scramble time. no real path or route to follow, just head downwards!

looking back up from where i have just made my way down!   

and the final trek back down the valley

What a great day its been , great scrambling and views.  and a good work out for the leg and arm muscles :)