Thursday, 25 June 2020

Silver Studded Blues at Prees Heath 10 th /17 th June

It is now 10 th  June, the Cornonavirus lockdown restrictions have been partially lifted so i can now drive any distance for leisure/exercise  purposes.  Except Wales and Scotland.  so still cant go into Snowdonia .  But the Silver Studded Blue butterflies  should be emerging now at Prees Heath in Shroposhire . So with very light winds and a cloudy forecast i have driven down to see if i can photograph a few.
These butterflies quite often emerge in huge numbers, and unlike most species don't actually move very far so they are always to be seen flying low around the Bell Heather

It didnt take long to find them ,  they are roosting in the heather,   all males which are blue underwing, whereas the females are brown.  They always emerge first.

It is an old airfield , the Bell Heather has been seeded on the old runways over recent years to increase the habitat for these fairly rare butterfly.

 I have found a nice fresh male , probably emerged in the last 24 hours ,  placed it on a nice colorful dead  heather stem .  held in a small clamp.  i can now lie down low to shoot with a nice clean background .

                                            Shot with Canon 5dmk2  100mmL macro lens
                                                                f7.1  iso400  1/125 th

                                               Beautiful colours of the dead heather stems.

All the butterflies seen so far have been males ,  but after half hour of searching i have found a newly emerged female still on the heather but low down out of sight , it is cloudy and fairly cool so the males are not flying around looking for the females yet.

                                                            Female Silver Studded Blue
                                                                 f8  iso 400  1/125 th

                    Male sitting on a grass stem ,  5dsr  100mm L macro on a tripod for this one.
                                                                  f7.1    iso 500  /1/80th

It is now just gone 10 am , and the sun is breaking through the clouds and the butterflies are becoming more active.   opening there wings to the sun .

                                                               One last image of a male .

A week later on the 17 th i have come back to see if a bigger emergence has taken place , we have had quite a few thunderstorms over the last couple of days so that may have had an impact on them.  It is a bit breezy today, but much warmer than last week when i arrive and immediately i notice how much more active they are, the numbers have increased dramatically also with plenty of females spotted already , considering i only found about 6 last week.   Unfortunately most of the males are roosting but take flight as soon as i get close !

A Small Heath , there are plenty of these flying around and this one stayed motionless to allow a 4 frame focus stack.   

                           A picture clearly showing the difference between male and female.

                                                      Female on an old heather flower
                                             5dsr   f14  1/5 th sec  iso 100   tripod used

         One of dozens of females that i have found , all the males seem to be very worn already with scales missing all over the wings.

                                                        5d mk2   100mm L macro
                                                           f7.1  iso 400  1/60 th

It is just too warm now , they are all too flighty but i have just shot this beautiful female on a heather flower to finish with.   I have not found a single butterfly emerging with the ants which is disappointing.

Thursday, 11 June 2020

Preying Mantis pt 3 April/May 2020 Lockdown

The Mantis species are all growing , some faster than others.    The Dead leaf is still very small and slow ,whereas the Orchids and , Giant Rainforest and  Stagmatoptera are growing fast!    its hard to keep enough food for them at times .  I now have a Wide armed mantis (Cilnia humeralis) and two spiny flowers (Creobroter gemmatus)

Firstly the Orchids , they have become Adult.  They get their wings in the last moult which is always a dangerous time, they need added humidity to prevent mis moults and damaged wings that don't expand properly.   

                                 Male Orchid  21 frames focus stacked canon 5dsr  100mmL

The female is sub adult, the wing buds are very clearly visible and it wont be long before she becomes adult.  Here is the old moulted skin next to her.

                                                                 23 frame focus stack.

April 22 now , I decided to shoot one on an actual Orchid flower , had to use a tripod for this, something I rarely do for macro.    Natural light and the 100mmL macro lens

                                   Single frame ,  almost ready to moult to adult.

May 24 th , she has moulted successfully overnight , I have waited a few days before taking her out to photograph , all her legs and wings needed time to harden properly.

                                    17 frames handheld focus stack , 5dsr  100mm L

                                                         And on black , 9 frames.

                                                The final Adult Orchid mantis 

                            Hymenopus Coronatus

                                                  Fabulous to see her as adult at last.

                                        Pre Sub adult female Stagomaptera femoralis

As a comparison , here is the female Giant Rainforest mantis, shorter ,wider abdomen ,more stocky and with a larger head .

                     Stagmatoptera   Sub adult female     12 frames handheld with the mpe-65 lens

                         and as a comparison   Hierodula majuscula    Giant Rainforest mantid
                                                               16 frames mpe 65

Now for the two new species ,   this is Cilnia humeralis l3. already at this small size feeding on a greenbottle ,  very aggressive hunters!

                            Portrait at x4 magnification  mpe 65 lens    20 frames focus stacked

Here are the flower mantis ,Creobroter gemmatus  ,  only a very small species just over 1-1 1/2 inch as an adult.   this is about 1 cm in length  30 th April

May 5th and they have just moulted , changing colour now and are pre sub adult with tiny flat wingbuds now showing.

                         May 15 th and they now look like this , up to about 15- 20 mm in length.

                                                         So cute , with loads of character

                                                And now up to date at the end of May

                                                    5 frames focus stacked portrait.

Almost forgot , the Cateye mantis ...............

                                           30 frames handheld  100mm L macro

                                              10 frame focus stack handheld. mpe 65

Still in lockdown at end of May , hopefully we will be able to start getting out a bit more soon.