Thursday, 17 July 2014

A Purple Hairstreak Photo Completes the Set - 17th July 2014

This evening I was lucky enough to get a photo of a Purple Hairstreak which for me is very special little insect. I love the whole family of British Hairstreaks as they (with the exception of the Green Hairstreak) have secretive lives and can seldom come down to the aspiring butterfly photographer. I have long since lost count of the many hours I have put into trying to get pics when the best views I could achieve is of their tiny silhouettes as they fly around their canopy of choice. Despite this a mixture of persistence, good luck and a few tip offs have meant that I have managed to get decent pics of the five British Hairstreaks with the final one tonight - this being the Purple Hairstreak. I find it slightly bizarre really that it took me this long to get a decent shot of one of the commonest Hairstreaks, and one which I regularly see flying around the large Oaks when I am out but until tonight I have never seen one down at eye level. This evening's Purple Hairstreak pics are included below and as it finishes my set of pics of the family I have decided to include all my best Hairstreak pics on one post, so apologies for regular readers as most of these pics you will have seen before.

Black Hairstreak
The Black Hairstreak is one of the rarest of our butterflies and is only found in a handful of sites in Britain. Luckily for us here in Northants one of the best places to see them is Glapthorn Cow Pastures near Oundle. They are stunners and always draw in quite a crowd when they emerge which can sometimes mean they are a challenge to photograph as a crowd of people can rush to see one if an individual tumbles down from the Blackthorn, particularly in years of bad weather when low down specimens can be few and far between! Lucky 2014 had superb weather during the period they were on the wing and I was lucky enough to have them almost to myself this year during my brief but productive visit after work. The main identifying feature is the row of black spots running along the out edge of the hindwing (compare to the White Letter  Hairstreak at the end of this post for comparison).

Black Hairstreak, Glapthorn Cow Pastures, Northants

Black Hairstreak, Glapthorn Cow Pastures, Northants

Black Haitstreak, Glapthorn Cow Pastures, Northants

Black Hairstreak, Glapthorn Cow Pastures, Northants

Black Hairstreak, Glapthorn Cow Pastures, Northants

Black Hairstreak, Glapthorn Cow Pastures, Northants

Black Hairstreak, Glapthorn Cow Pastures, Northants

Black Hairstreak, Glapthorn Cow Pastures, Northants
 Brown Hairstreak
Last year (4th August 2013) I visited RSPB Otmoor with a group of friends and we decided to look along the "old Roman road" just in case a Brown Hairstreak had emerged. We walked up and down a couple of time before a tiny brown butterfly was seen by Sam Candy flying over the group. I watched it land at the top of a Bramble bush and was astonished to see a pristine Brown Hairstreak on top of a leaf. We hurriedly took pics and then it took off and we all held our breathe. We expected it to head back up into the canopy of the nearby Ash trees but in fact it did the opposite! It flew around for a short while before coming down and settling on a flower right infront of us. The below shot says more than I can put into words. An absolute cracker and I was incredibly lucky to be able to get it!

Brown Hairstreak, RSPB Otmoor, Oxon
 Green Hairstreak
Green Hairstreaks hold a special place in my heart as they're one of the first butterflies I actually went out to try and find after seeing reports of them at Twywell Hills and Dales many years ago in 2005. Being rather wet behind the years at the time I had to find them for myself as I didn't know anyone at the time who was into butterflies. I'll never forget that first green flash as one flew infront of a bush and with my limited camera gear I got a passable shot. A lot has changed since then and my experience (and camera gear) has improved considerably! The below pics were taken early this year on Gloucestershire were I was lucky enough to not only capture mating of the species but also egg laying. You may notice the dotted white line on the egg laying individual goes up the outer edge of the forewing aswell as the hind - this makes it the aberration punctata which semed to be very common in the area.

Green Hairsteaks in cop, Prestbury Hill, Glos


Green Hairtreak, Edge Common, Glos

Green Hairstreak egg laying, Edge Common, Glos
 Purple Hairstreak
The below pics are the ones I managed to get tonight (17th July 2014) at Thorpe Malsor near Kettering in Northants. I have a friend of mine called Stuart Mundy to thank for me getting these after he gave me the tip off a few days ago about the site. The normal view of these is of little lilac flashes as they whirl around the tops of Oak trees so to have one so low for a prolonged period of time was a real treat! To add to the occasion it was also a nice looking specimen too.

Purple Hairstreak, Thorpe Malsor, Northants

Purple Hairstreak, Thorpe Malsor, Northants

Purple Hairstreak, Thorpe Malsor, Northants
 White Letter Hairstreak
The story behind these pics of the final British Hairstreak was covered in the previous post so I'll keep it short to avoid repetition. These were taken over two seperate occasions a few days apart at Bedford Purlieus in Cambridgeshire. Once again I was very lucky in the first instance as the butterfly was literally flawless with hardly a mark on it. Notice also the comparison between this and the Black Hairstreak above with the lack of black spots along the outer edge of the hindwing.

White Letter Hairstreak, Bedford Purlieus, Cambs

White Letter Hairstreak, Bedford Purlieus, Cambs

White Letter Hairstreak, Bedford Purlieus, Cambs

White Letter Hairstreak, Bedford Purlieus, Cambs








1 comment:

  1. Very nice collection of the hairstreaks David,hopefully my time will come next year!

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