Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Green Hairstreaks

Until this year I have only seen photos of green hairstreak butterflies (Callophrys rubi) I'd never actually seen one in real life and was determined to do something about that this spring! Over winter I did my research as to where they were seen last year and also time of day and behaviour and picked two locations, one just down the road and the other about 30 minutes away and kept an eye out for the first sightings whilst going over some ideas for composition and potential lighting.

My first trip out was April 26th, it was a little windy but an otherwise perfect day, knowing that in this area they are most likely to be found in and around gorse that's where I headed (with a little help from some fellow photographer friends). These are my first ever photos of a green hairstreak, this one is a male and they can be very territorial chasing and fighting other males that enter their patch. One thing that you don't often see with them is the dusky pink colouration on the fore-wing, the first few photos I took I just couldn't get this to show so I have developed a few little techniques to help bring this out, I'm not letting on what they are just yet as I'm still perfecting them but will be writing an article about them at the end of the summer.


I am also working on being more artistic and creative rather than taking standard ID shots of the butterflies and you will certainly see this as we journey through this post, starting with this image using the gorse flowers in the foreground as a soft blur drawing the eye to the butterfly sitting in amongst the flowers.


Well, this was it, I was in love with these surprisingly small but stunning butterflies and dedicated much of the ext month or so to photographing them, most of the time on the gorse! Spending so much time with them really enabled me to get into their little lives, notice tiny things and come up with different ways of capturing them and showing them in their little world. 


When you spend time with them you start to notice not just how beautiful they can be surprisingly friendly and curious as well, over the weeks I have spent with them I've been able to get an insight into their world and see how much they depend on the gorse.  


Over time I started to notice how different colours compliment each other with the green in the background matching the green of the butterfly in this photo. 


But, there's always a but. For the majority of the time I could only find males on the gorse and as striking the contrast is between the yellow of the flowers and green of the butterfly, I wanted to see if I could find some females that spend their time closer to the ground, perseverance definitely paid off. I found them between the wild thyme and the buttercups. The first image is in amongst the wild thyme, both her and me.  


The next few images are of a female (not the same one) feeding on buttercups and daises, it really gives you an idea of just how small they really are. 




















After a couple of weeks I started to see less and less of these wonderful little butterflies in their normal location but did start to find them in other areas of the same sight including hawthorn bushes and these last few images are of them in amongst the green leaves. On the first two photos you can even see the green scales around the face.



This male wouldn't stay still for long as he would keep chasing anything that came near his patch, butterflies, bees it didn't matter, but when he did it's like everything came together and I was able to try some different compositions with the very last one being my favourite, a very unusual photo but eye catching and it reminds me a little of an ice cream cone.



Well, that's it for this post, I hope you've enjoyed my green hairstreak moment, I'm missing these little butterflies already and really looking forward to their return next year, but other species are emerging everyday now and the orchids are looking amazing so there is plenty to keep me busy.

My next post will be from a trip to Gozo and Malta before it's back to the butterflies, orchids and anything else that I have been working on. For now, look after yourselves and enjoy the great weather we're having here in the South West right now.

Bye for now.