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Friday, 11 October 2019

Go East, Old Man - on 29th June, 2019

I fancied a bit of a butterfly fix, and the forecast for the day was for exceptionally hot and sunny weather, so my choice of destination was Ketton Quarry, right over on the eastern boundary of the county - our home is in the westernmost part of the county. The draw of Ketton at this time of year was the Marbled White, and Dark Green Fritillary butterflies, for which this site is well-known.

I set off quite early for me, and arrived shortly after 10h00. In the top meadow, by the car park, there were several Dark Green Fritillaries and a few Marbled Whites.

Dark Green Fritillary (Argynnis aglaja) - Ketton Quarry
Marbled White (Melanargia galathea) (female)  - Ketton Quarry
Marbled White (Melanargia galathea) (male)  - Ketton Quarry
The sex of a Marbled White is easily determined. Females have brown markings on the underside of the hindwing, whereas males have black markings. If they have their wings open, the light brown leading edge of the forewing on the females can usually be clearly seen - the males are, again, just black on white.

There was a very large area at Ketton to be checked out, so I soon left this meadow and headed down into the nearby quarry, just to the south of the meadow. I was quite surprised to find this area almost devoid of butterflies and other items of interest, as it has been extremely productive on past visits. A little disappointed, I headed up hill and then down dale into the large area of disused quarry to the south-west. 

Again, this area did not yield as much as I hoped for, but I did not draw a total blank. I found a Small Heath butterfly to take a few shots of.

Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus) - Ketton Quarry
The Burnet Companion moth is a very variable species, and a speciality of this location. I also find them hard to photograph and took a long time trying to get shots of these two.

Burnet Companion (Euclidia glyphica) - Ketton Quarry
Being a little disappointed, once more, I decided that I'd be better off back at the meadow where I started. I passed back through the small quarry again and, as I did so, found a fritillary to photograph.

Dark Green Fritillary (Argynnis aglaja) - Ketton Quarry
I was surprised to find a Brimstone butterfly, although it was extremely tatty.

Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) (male) - Ketton Quarry
Back up at the first meadow, I found that all the butterflies had disappeared. I don't know why, but it was mid-day, and now very hot - perhaps too hot for them?
I returned to my car, quickly downed my picnic lunch and a much-needed drink of squash, and the set off for the pond at Launde Abbey. The possibility of a few dragons was irresistible!

I arrived to find that there was quite a lot going on at the small pond there, although it was rather difficult to track the action because of the extremely lush growth of the pond vegetation. I was torn between trying to photograph the two Emperor dragonflies that were constantly interacting with each other and never settling, or the pair of Broad-bodied Chasers that were mating whilst in flight. I managed to get shots of both, but nothing that I was very happy with.

Emperor (Anax imperator) (male) - Launde Abbey
Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa) (male + female in cop) - Launde Abbey
Needing to give my arms a rest from waving about, trying to get flight shots, I headed round to the other side of the pond, and found two Broad-bodied Chasers and a Four-spotted Chaser that were settling from time to time, and I fared a little better with the photography.

Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa) (male) - Launde Abbey

Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata) (male) - Launde Abbey
By 14h00 I'd had enough of the heat and it was time to enjoy the air-conditioning in the car as I headed homeward at the close of what had been a most enjoyable time, even if it did have its little frustrations!

I sense this might be my last dragonfly-focused blog post for a long while and, after a most enjoyable day out yesterday, I expect to be back next time with a post which majors on birds!  Thank you for dropping by.


  1. Very nice butterflies and insects Richard. I like them all. Have a nice weekend. Greetings Caroline

    1. Thank you, Caroline. I hope that you're having a great weekend too. Best wishes - - - Richard

  2. A. Ice selection ther Richard. Like you, I think the dragonfly posts are starting to dry up. Best dust off the bins for some winter birding.

    1. Thank you, Marc. Although my next post will mainly be about birds, there just might be a dragonfly or two! Take good care - - - Richard

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you, Agnes - it helps when you have beautiful subjects to photograph!

  4. Hello Richard: I was about to be amazed at the numbers of insects still around when I realized that the outing dates back to June! It would have been quite the haul in mid October, wouldn't it? You did well, and some of the photographs are quite outstanding, crisp and clear, with lots of detail. I saw a few Cabbage Whites and Monarchs while out today, and a couple of Autumn Meadowhawks, but most of our butterflies will not be seen again until next year. Today was an amazing 21 degrees. Incredible weather for October.

    1. Amazing temperatures, David! We've struggled to reach double figures this week and then there's been a strong wind too, adding a bit of a chill factor. I did manage to get out one day, however, and dodge the rain - and I did find some dragonflies and a butterfly, but the emphasis was definitely on birds!

  5. Hello Richard,
    I'm really open-mouthed looking at these beautiful pictures.
    They are only beautiful to see but also very sharp, full of details and truly beautiful colors.
    The butterflies are really fantastic and I am slightly jealous of that !!!! But your other photos are also great to see. You are really a professional. My compliments.

    I wish you a very nice weekend.
    Kind regards and do it carefully.

    1. You really are too kind, Helma, as your own work is something that I can only look up to with admiration! I'm having a very pleasant, but busy, weekend, thank you - I hope your weekend is splendid! My very best wishes - - - Richard

  6. Stunning photos of butterfliea and dragonflies. Close ups are really brilliant Richard.

  7. Just when I think we have many dragons and butterflies in common, you post a whole set of images proving how different our species can be!

    The Emperor is similar to our Common Green Darner (Anax junius), but the remainder are new for me. Wonderful in-flight photographs!

    We have been quite fortunate lately as we've been able to get out and about often. I'm falling far behind in blogging about it all of course. Lots of fall migratory birds and dragons are going strong. And I've found new locations to try a capture some of Florida's unique landscapes. No rest for the weary!

    We hope you and Lindsay are doing well this weekend. I know you're behaving but I suspect the bins are being cleaned in anticipation of good birding weather ...

    All the best!

    1. I know you have some families of dragons that we don't see over this side of the pond, Wally, so I'm not surprised that our Chasers (Libellula) are strange to you with their short wide abdomens. We only have three species in this family in UK (and Europe), the third being the Scarce Chaser (Libellula fulva).

      It's great to hear that you've been out in the field so much, and I can fully understand why bloggerland is being starved of your presence - although I would love to see more of your wonderful and entertaining reports!

      I'm sorry to say that I transgressed last week and overdid it somewhat, and am now suffering a bit of a setback - nothing too serious, I hope, but I have been suitably chastised by Lindsay and am now having a gentle home-based week. I did have a pleasant day out before my downfall, however, and should be reporting on that in my next post.

      I hope the week ahead brings you and Gini many delights of nature to relish and record. Take good care - - - Richard

  8. Hello Richard
    Dragonflies in flight ... hats off for great performance, the butterflies are detailed and you can see everything very well
    great post
    Greetings Frank

    1. Thank you for your kind words of encouragement, Frank. Sometimes the subject matter presents itself as if it is asking for its picture to be taken! Best wishes - - - Richard

  9. Hello Richard, some nice memories of time gone by. Not that long ago thoh. Some wonderful species you encountert. Those Marble white are so wonderful. Did not know until now the difference between male and female, thank you for telling this. The dragonflies are as always spectacular. Than your photos are a joy to see. So beautyful.
    Take care,

    1. Hi Roos! I think I may now have taken my last butterfly and dragonfly photos of the year as it has now turned very wet and quite windy over here, and the temperatures have dropped too - I suspect that your weather is now not very different.

      I love your fungi images on your latest blog post, and the tree frog is, of course, absolutely wonderful.

      Take good care. Best wishes - - - Richard

  10. Excellent photos Richard. We went out birding yesterday with an expert. We saw 58 different species, many of which I had not even heard of before let alone seen before. Sadly many were a bit far and my photos are not the best but some are OK.

    Hope you are well, best wishes Diane

    1. Hi Diane. It sounds as if you are making the most of your stay in RSA - 58 species is not a bad tally for the day!! I'm looking forward to hearing all about it when you get back. Have a wonderful time, and stay safe - - - Richard


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