Why are they called Butterflies?

 

            Butter Coloured Flies

   What photographer can resist the appeal of this group of insects. They seem to be almost omnipresent in that they can be found in a variety of different habitats from the expected countryside settings right up to normal gardens and even busy city centres. We can enjoy the sight of somewhat over 50 different species in the UK. The exact number is somewhat debatable and will depend on where you stand in the world of splitters, lumpers and re-introducers. The first two of these refers to those who, often seemingly pedantically, choose to “split” or “lump” together various species and/or sub-species and the third refers to those who sit in judgement and decide at what point a species,  re-introduced for whatever justifiable reasons, should be declared “native” once again. I have covered this subject more comprehensively in my book “Wildlife Photography on a Budget” and made my sentiments clear!!

   Political bickering apart they make phenomenal photographic subjects. The fact that there are only 50 to 60 species in the UK means that with luck, diligence and a fondness for travel, there is a chance that you could locate and photograph each and every species. There is something of a collector in all of us and whatever form that interest takes for you there will always be an extra incentive if collecting a “full set” is a possibility. Pursuit of this “full set” will force you into undertaking considerable research into characteristics, habitats, seasons of the various life cycle stages and even social contact with fellow enthusiasts. Word of mouth is probably one of the best sources of information, especially in respect of suitable sites to visit, although there are now a significant number of Field Guides available on the subject.

   Whilst the classical mental vision of a butterfly probably involves one of the more highly coloured species displaying with its wings “akimbo”, many species can be as beautiful, or even more so, on their undersides. Devoting time to capturing images depicting various behaviour patterns and from different angles can be quite rewarding and set you apart from the masses who seem to be convinced that the fully spread shot is the only viable option. Whilst not denigrating the incredible beauty of some of these “wings wide” shots the buying, and even viewing public, are increasingly demanding that wildlife images should display the subject “doing something” other than just lying around.

   Amongst the attached images there is one of a male Brimstone Butterfly, said to be the insect that gave rise to the name as, in certain antiquarian literature, it is referred to as “The Butter Coloured Fly”.  

 

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              Brown Hairstreak

       Silver Studded Blues courting

               Chalkhill Blue male

             Common Blue male

               Small Blue male

                 Comma open

  Comma showing “Comma” marking

                White Admiral

                    Red Admiral

                    Marsh Fritillary

        Silver Washed Fritillary male

               Brimstone female

       Brimstone male – the original

         “Butter Coloured Fly”

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Little Grebes

 

            Little Grebe.

 

   These delightful little birds are also commonly referred to as Dabchicks. Although found on a variety of pond, lake and slow moving water habitats they are not the easiest of birds to photograph due to a normally secretive nature sensitive to disturbance. On those waters that they do frequent they are normally to be found around the margins where there is a reasonable density of aquatic vegetation, reeds and rushes, amongst which they hunt their prey. Their diet consists of fish, aquatic insects, molluscs and crustaceans. They have a number of “similar at first glance” cousins – two of the much rarer ones are also featured here for comparison purposes – Slavonian and Black Necked.

 

   Part of their appeal must be down to their appearance. They are small and “dumpy” and look as though someone has yanked their tails out leaving a fluffy “stump” behind. They are extremely agile in the water and their normal evasive action consists of diving rapidly beneath the surface and virtually disappearing. You can often wait with bated breath for their reappearance until you are convinced they must have drowned. A distinctive cry from the far side of the waterway will highlight the errors of your supposition as they are capable, with the help of their curiously “lobed” feet, of travelling enormous distances without the need to surface, thus frustrating all attempts to train your lens on an anticipated re-emergence point. They fly infrequently but will often attack interlopers or evade perceived threats by seemingly “running” across the water surface.

 

  One of their more endearing features is to carry their stripy coloured young on their backs for the first few days after leaving the nest and, much to my regret, this is one of the behaviour patterns I have yet to capture. What better “reason to go on” could one wish for?

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Similar looking Black Necked Grebe
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               Adult Little Grebe

          Little Grebe stretching

                      And again

           Taking a flying walk

            Mother and young

            Still dependent young

          Just about independent

              Fully independent

          About to take a Damselfly

                  Just surfacing

               Full Adult Little Grebe

  The very similar Black Necked Grebe

          Also similar Slavonian Grebe

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