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Monday, 9 November 2015

Butterflies and Beetles - May to September, 2015

This summer I got to really appreciate the close-up capabilities of the Sigma 50-500 lens that I'd been given by my wife as a Christmas present at the tail-end of 2014. I've taken as many opportunities as I could to try and capture the world of small creatures, finding this particularly fascinating as it allows me to see aspects of these amazing creatures that I'd not previously observed.

Here's a selection of the butterfly and beetle (plus a nod to the moths) images that I've not previously posted on this blog, It also excludes those from my garden, as they might appear in a future post. 

Butterflies and Moths

I've had a love of butterflies and moths since the age of about 10. However, I've never made any sort of serious study of them. I did, many years ago, have a spell where my 'office' was full of 'cages' taking caterpillars through to adulthood.

This year, the butterflies have missed my attention to some degree because of my growing interest in dragonflies and damselflies.

Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines) (male) - Rutland Water (Lyndon) on 7th May
The Speckled Wood has a very long season in this region.

Speckled Wood (Parage aegeria) - Calke Tramway on 16th June
The Red Admiral seems to make no attempt to disguise itself.  It also is with us for quite a long period.

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) - Rutland Water (Lyndon) on 18th June

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) - Rutland Water (Egleton) on 9th July
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) - Drakelow NR on 22nd September
Not quite so common in these parts, and not usually around for so long, is the Painted Lady - always a delight to see!

Painted Lady (Cynthia cardui) - Rutland Water (Lyndon) on 18th June
Relatively uncommon in VC55 (Leicestershire and Rutland) is the Marbled White. This was my first ever sighting in VC55, so please excuse the 'record shots' - a flitting butterfly at around 35 metres distance is not an easy target!

Marbled White (Melanargia galathea) - Rutland Water (Lyndon) on 2nd July
A relatively common butterfly, but one that I tend to overlook, in spite of its handsome appearance, is the Ringlet.

Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus) - Rutland Water (Egleton) on 9th July
The Comma, with its delightful and distinctive wing shape, is a relatively common butterfly. It has two broods a year (May/June and August/September), with the second brood hibernating, to reappear in the spring.

Comma (Polygonia c-album) - Rutland Water (Egleton) on 9th July
Comma (Polygonia c-album) - Drakelow NR on 17th September
On the same July day as the first Comma and the Ringlet shown above, I also photographed a Small Skipper.

Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) (female)  - Rutland Water (Egleton) on 9th July
The next two species, photographed on 16th July, are a little less colourful. The Meadow Brown is extremely common, and the Gatekeeper seemed to have a very good year this year.

Gatekeeper (Pyronia tythonus) (male) - Rutland Water (Lyndon) on 16th July
Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina) (female) - Rutland Water (Lyndon) on 16th July
We leave the butterflies with a couple of shots of the larvae (caterpillars) of the Peacock.

Peacock (Inachis io) (larvae) - Rutland Water (Lyndon) on 16th July
I now realise that I've almost totally ignored moths this year (sorry, Rhys!). My only offering is the larva of what I believe to be the Dark Arches moth.

Dark Arches (Apamea monoglypha)? (larva) - Rutland Water (Lyndon) on 13th May

I know even less about beetles than I do about butterflies, but here's a few from the summer. Please let me know if you can help with the I/D, especially if I get it wrong!

I think this first one might be a ground beetle of of the Pterostichus group.

Ground beetle (Pterostichus sp.?) - Rutland Water (Lyndon) on 4th June
I think that this one is a Click beetle of the Agriotis group.

Click Beetle (Agriotis sp.?) - Spring Wood Nature Reserve on 16th June
This next one, I'm more sure of. The colour meant it stood out like a sore thumb! I love the satin effect which can be seen on the first image!

Cardinal Beetle (Pyrochroa serraticornis) - Spring Wood Nature Reserve on 16th June
These next ones are often seen in great numbers when at least 50% of them will be engaging in their favourite pastime. Whilst usually known as Soldier Beetles, they are more colloquially known as Bonking Beetles!

Soldier Beetle (Cantharis sp.) - Rutland Water (Lyndon) on 16th July
Thank you for dropping by. I guess that it's about time I posted with an owl or two, but that's not been too easy lately with limited time and pretty dreadful weather!


  1. Well this post brings back memories,i can't wait and see what delights are in store for next year,you must be delighted with your Christmas present of 2014,brilliant macro captures.

    1. Thank you, John. It's a bit sad that most of these won't now be seen until well into next year. Macro opportunities will also be thin on the ground - partly due to lack of subject matter (need to think on that one!), but largely due to low light levels (perhaps need to think on that one too (flash?)).

      I've certainly appreciated that Christmas present!

      I hope that your we3ek is going well and you're not getting too much of the wind and rain - - - Richard

  2. FANTASTIC cloe ups. I can see why you are very pleased with your lens

    1. Thank you, Margaret. It's a great bit of kit!

  3. I have a 55 -300 nikon lens and I love some of the insect shots I can get. Your photos are amazing,do you use a tripod? I can never get set up in time so rely on what I hope is a steady hand.
    I heard the barn owl outside this evening but too dark to see it :-( Have a good week Diane

    1. I only ever use a tripod if I am set up in my hide, Diane - which is probably not more than two or three times a year these days! I rely purely on shutter speed and the Optical Stabilisation feature of the lens - plus taking plenty of shots if there is a risk of camera shake or mis-focus!

      Are you sure it was a Barn Owl you heard? They usually make a noise that is often described as a loud hissing sound. The pale colour of a Barn Owl will usually show up, even in poor light. If you heard a twooooo --- twoo-twoo-twoo sound it was probably a Tawny Owl and would not be so visible because of their dark colour.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

  4. Seeing these lovely photos Richard I can not wait for Spring. (Winter is not for me.) You took some fine pictures of those butterflies, beatles and moths. And indeed that was a most wonderful Christmas present. I am not getting out much because I have first to get better from my cold. My ribs are hurting from the sneezing and coughing.
    Take care and regards,

    1. So sorry to hear that you are unwell, Roos.

      I too dislike winter and my spirits tend to get lower in the autumn as winter sets in. However, there's now one advantage to that season which I enjoy and that is that it's easier to see the owls in the trees, and find new sites!

      Thank you for your kind words.

      I hope that you are soon feeling well again. Please take very good care of yourself - - - - Richard

  5. I see you also have a Pollen Beetle in the last shot. I will look for the big red job and report back if I find it.

    1. Ah, thank you, Adrian. The Pollen Beetle!! Not sure about your reference to the big red job - are you saying I've got the Cardinal I/D wrong? Or maybe I'm just being a bit slow here?

      Best wishes - - - Richard

  6. Hi Richard, nice to be reminded of summer which now seems a long way off in this dreary weather. It seems the crisp frosty days of winter are a thing of the past, I can remember bonfire nights being cold and frosty, ok you can think well at least our heating bills will not be high but I would rather have the cold, frosty, sunny days even if it means higher heating bills and it is also better for photographing wildlife.

    1. I'm totally with you on the beauty of crisp winter days, Linda. Dull muddy days are not my thing at all. We'll keep our fingers crossed!!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

  7. Class photographed when one considers the butterflies so close you can see the details can be seen not at all in passing ....

    greetings Frank

    1. Greetings, Frank!

      I'm really enjoying seeing things in detail. For example - I didn't realise that butterflies had hairy eyes!

      My best wishes - - - Richard

  8. Great macro work, Richard. And I thought you were just an owl spotter!!!

    1. Naah, David. Those Little Owls have got enough spots already, without me giving them any more!

      Thanks, and best wishes to you both - - - - Richard

  9. Please express our thanks to Lindsay for providing you with such a fantastic gift! We really appreciate it!
    Richard, these are superb images! I've been trying to learn more about insects and try to get a few images on each birding trip. I've found with butterflies, especially, it's all about the plants. So now I'm trying to learn which plants attract which species --- will this obsession never end? And I just took my first photos of stars at night --- help!

    We hope you both are have a wonderful week!

    1. It sounds like you're well on the way to becomming the Total Naturalist, Wally! - and now Astrologer too! I don't think I've ever taken photos of stars, but I often find myself photographing the moon.

      Showed your comment to Lindsay - she had a good chuckle!

      We're now experiencing the UK's first 'named' tornado. In true USA fashion we're starting with the first letter of the alphabet and have named it 'Abigail'. I think any American's reaction would be - 'call this a tornado!?!?!'

      My best wishes to you and Gini - - - - Richard

    2. Sorry - just realised I wrote astrologer rather than astronomer !!! Reminds me of last year when I first attended a meeting of a local naturalists club and was asked by the receptionist if I was there for the naturists meeting!

  10. Fantastic images Richard. The detail is brilliant too. I liked the flight shots, not enough people do flight shots of insects

    1. Thank you, Doug. I'm not sure about getting more flight shots of insects. It's not an easy thing to do as focussing on such a small object when moving rapidly is hard - to say the least. Most of my insect flight shots have happened by accident, when something that I've been shooting suddenly decides to tak flight - and usually those don't work as, when photographing static insects, I've got the ISO wound up so the shutter speed is low.

      Best wishes - - Richard

  11. Awesome pictures! Butterflies is so lovely. We waiting summer and butterflies and moths.

    1. Thank you, Anne. I pleased to say that summer is on its way! ;-}


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