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Sunday, 14 May 2017

A Visit to Ketton Quarry - on 5th May, 2017

John had been unavailable for our semi-regular Thursday afternoon out on 4th, due to one of his dogs being unwell. We'd tentatively postponed our excursion until the following day but, in the event,  John didn't feel confident enough to leave the dog on the Friday either, so I set off late-morning for Ketton Quarry in Rutland in the hope of finding some butterflies, snakes and lizards to photograph. However, the weather looked questionable as, although it was sunny, there was a stiff breeze blowing.

I took the usual countrified route and, stopping at one of my Little Owl sites, found a Red-legged Partridge to photograph.

Red-legged  Partridge (Alectoris rufa)
Due to the windy conditions I was not surprised that the only Little Owl I saw was tucked well in at my Site No.34.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.34
 Further up the road a Meadow Pipit was on a roadside post.

Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)
I arrived at Ketton Quarry just before mid-day, and took the decision to have half my picnic lunch before setting off into the site.

Suitably refreshed, as I entered  the site I noticed that the leaves of the Twayblade Orchids were showing well. As I was hoping for some close-up work on butterflies, I took a shot of a dandelion head to check my settings. I found that I rather liked the results, so I kept one of the photos.

Dandelion sp. - Ketton Quarry
I spent some time in the  area which can be good for lizards and snakes, and also butterflies at times. In spite of it being nicely sheltered from the wind, it came up with nothing, so I headed up to an area which is a good place for Green Hairstreak butterfly at the right time of year. I found one almost immediately at the start of the usual hedgeline (also nicely sheltered and in the sun) but it stayed high in a bush and I couldn't get closer than around 3 metres.

Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi) - Ketton Quarry
I continued along the hedgeline and, near the far end, found an extremely obliging specimen.


Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi) - Ketton Quarry
For those of you unfamiliar with this tiny, but beautiful, butterfly, it is the only green butterfly found in UK . It is only just over half an inch (1.5 cm) from head to wing-tip. I've yet to find one settle with its wings open, but the upper side of the wings is a milk-chocolate brown.

Also in this area were a couple of Holly Blue butterflies. These are a bit bigger than the Green Hairstreak, but still very small. This one represents the female of the species, with its dark wing-tips. Sadly, this one also kept its distance.

Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus) (female) - Ketton Quarry
Having spent some time here, I set off down into the adjacent hollow. Nothing of note was found here, but I did manage some shots of a female Brimstone butterfly and a Bee-fly.


Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) (female) - Ketton Quarry
Dark-edged Bee-fly (Bombylius major) - Ketton Quarry
On my way out of this area, I stopped at the hedge again, and took more shots of the Green Hairstreak and a Holly Blue (this time a male) which was a little more obliging. I tried getting a head-on image of the Green Hairstreak, but it had a very strange behavioural pattern - as I approached, it quickly turned from head-on to side-on. When I backed off it switched back again. I tried this many times - each time with the same result! In the second hairstreak image, you can just detect the brown of the upper wing surface.


Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi) - Ketton Quarry
Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus) (male) - Ketton Quarry
I next set off into an area which can be good for skipper butterflies, but none were seen. I only took some shots of a day-flying moth - the Common Heath.

Common Heath (Ematurga atomaria) - Ketton Quarry
On my way back towards the entrance, I stopped to shoot a male Brimstone.

Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) (male) - Ketton Quarry
As my return journey took me past the hedge that had been so rewarding, I had a quick look once more, and took some more shots. The first was of a wasp!

Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris) - Ketton Quarry
The second was of the male Holly Blue as, so far that day,  I'd not managed to capture the underside of this butterfly.

Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus) (male) - Ketton Quarry
I headed back to the area that I'd started in, which I believe is known as 'The Barbecue' to local enthusiasts. I'd almost given up when I found my first Dingy Skipper of the year. This butterfly is even smaller than the Green Hairstreak.


Dingy Skipper (Erynnis tages) (male) - Ketton Quarry
I had one last-ditch attempt to find some lizards, visiting a narrow gully where I'd seen lizards several times in the past, but there was a cold wind blasting up the gully, so I gave up, having the rest of my picnic lunch at 16h30, before I headed for home! 

Thus ended another rather rewarding, and highly enjoyable, day

Thank you for dropping by.
 

22 comments:

  1. Delightful post Richard,lovely mixed bag of Butterfly's,your Red-legged Partridge is excellent,are you using a Macro Lens,if so,what type.
    John.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, John. These days I use the Sigma 50-500 for all my photography. It's a great all-round lens. The 500 end is good for birds, but if I wind back towards the 50 end (for example, that third Green Hairstreak image was taken with the lens at 170) I can focus with the object only a couple of inches from the lens hood! The only reason I might switch to a 150 macro (if I had one) would be to save weight, or to be able to use flash - but then I'd not be ready to shoot distant birds too! I used to use a Sigma 150-500, but the 50-500 is superior at 500mm and can't focus much closer than about 6ft at 150!

      Best wishes to you both - - - Richard

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    2. Thank you Richard.
      John.

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    3. You're welcome any time, John.

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  2. Despite not finding any reptiles it looks like you had a great day, Richard.

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    1. I did, thank you, David. It was most enjoyable.

      Love to you both!

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  3. Great photos Richard with plenty of detail. They look fab.

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    1. Thank you, Doug!

      Hoping all is OK with you - - - Richard

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  4. Absolutely stunning of all types of nature. I love the Green Hairstreak, I can watch them for hours and hours.

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    1. Thank you, Bob. The Green Hairstreak is certainly a delightful butterfly, and fun to watch.

      with my best wishes - - - Richard

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  5. HI Richard, at last have made it to the computer and getting around the blogs, what a wonderful post, Ketton looked a delightful visit, the Green Hairstreak and Holly Blue are real stunners. Super post and hopefully see you soon. All the best, John

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    1. Thank you, John. I hope you are soon recovered from your ills, and we can have a trip out again.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  6. Hello Richard!:) Captivating nature images, showing so much detail in such tiny insects. I love the charming Green Hairstreak, and have only seen it on two occasions in my garden, and the Bee-fly only once. Lovely Red Legged Partridge shot, and I'm so glad you included the delicate but beautiful Dandelion Head as it's a stunning shot.

    Richard, I managed to see the Little Owl again in the Algarve, but unfortunately it was in the far distance, but I was pleased to see it was still around, and took a few shots of it anyway, which I will be posting soon, but the Bee Eaters were thrilling to observe.
    Thank you so much for sharing all your lovely captures which are all so delightful.
    Warm Regards.

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind and charming words, Sonjia. They are much appreciated.

      I'm delighted that you managed some shots of a Little Owl, and look forward to seeing them on your blog soon.

      With my very best wishes - - - Richard

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  7. "Countrified route". I love that! Gini and I refer to the back roads we prefer as the "scenic route", but I may adopt your much more elegantly descriptive phrase. (With your permission, of course!)

    What a wonderful post, Richard. It was a breath of fresh air and much appreciated here in dry, dry central Florida. That partridge is a beauty! But the stars of the article for me were the Green Hairstreak and Holly Blue. Wow! Outstanding work with that heavy lens!!

    We hope you and Lindsay are well and I am trying hard to get back in the rhythm of blogging - but I'm so lazy I certainly won't make any promises. Take care!

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    1. Hi Wally. Thank you for your visit and your kind words. I'm not sure that my use of 'countrified' is correct but it seemed apposite at the time. I have absolutely no claim to its use!

      Your comment about the weight of the lens struck a familiar chord. The lens is not a particularly heavy one (weighing in at just over four and a half pounds) when compared with a 500mm prime lens. However, I've recently started experiencing problems (cramp-like pains in my chest) when carrying it for extended periods. I'm not sure if this is temporary or not, but I've recently finished adapting a fishing trolley with a box on top to carry all my kit around in - including emergency wet-weather gear, and lunch! It had its first outing last week.

      I'm sure that any absence from Bloggerland on your part is nothing to do with laziness, Wally, but much more likely to be due to having better things to do. I confess that there are times when I question the amount of time I spend on blogging.

      Lindsay and I are doing fine, thank you. I hope that you and Gini are fit and well too. With my very best wishes to you both - - - Richard

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  8. Hi Richard,

    I read it on John's site about his dog.

    Your picture of the Patrijs is really very beautiful.
    The owl in the tree is really amazing. The grapefruit you can see here with big numbers ;-) The plum of the dandelion is always great for photographing (I have a whole series but it's still on my blog. That green butterfly is a true beauty! Of course the other are Butterflies are also very beautiful but that little vegetable is really amazing!
    I enjoyed it again.

    Cordial greetings,
    Helma

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    1. Thank you, Helma. I hope that your back is continuing to get better.

      With my best wishes - - - Richard

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  9. Maybe you did not find what you were looking for, but you had a great day with some fabulous photos and I love the Green Hairstreak, not a butterfly I know at all, but it seems it is found here in France. I must look harder :-)
    Hope all is well Take care Diane

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    1. It certainly was a most enjoyable day, Diane. Yes, that Green Hairstreak is a real gem, but they are not around for long, and they're usually one of the first butterflies around, other than those that hibernate over winter.

      With my very best wishes - - - Richard

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  10. Hello Richard!
    What a wonderful post with green and blue butterflies!
    The Green Hairstreak is gorgeous, I agree!
    The wasp is beautiful, such a useful insect in a garden against flies!!
    Back from Camargue, a fabulous place in the south of France, I was lucky to enjoy a wonderful weather too!
    Warm hugs and both enjoy your sunday :)

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    1. I'm delighted to hear that you had such a great time in the Camargue, Noushka. It's a region I only visited a couple of times on business, before my interest in wildlife photography was so great a part of my life. It was also the wrong time of year for the Bee-eaters - I remember looking wistfully at their holes in the bank from a boat from Aigues Mortes.

      Thank you for your kind words. With my very best wishes - - - Richard

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