Chasing butterflies

I have had a few early mornings in the reserve in an effort to photograph butterflies before they get too active. It has often been quite breezy, which has made it challenging to get some good images. But one morning I was fortunate to find this common blue that I was able to get reasonably close to, and during the periods when the wind briefly dropped, I was able to fire off a few shots. 

During the few minutes I spent with this common blue, I was reminded of how small they are. So as well as getting some close-ups showing the wings made up of tiny scales and hairs, I took some wider shots to give a sense of scale to this beautifully marked little creature. The wide shot here is actually one of my favourite pictures that I have taken so far this year. 


There is a butterfly shot that I have had in mind for some time now. It was of a butterfly on a stalk of grass, backlit in early morning light, preferably on a dewy morning. I knew that the weekend of the 11th and 12th would be a good time to start trying to get the shot as there were more butterflies starting to emerge, especially meadow browns.

I had taken a stroll around the reserve on the Friday evening and observed meadow browns taking to the air as I walked through the long grass that they favour for breeding and feeding. So I knew that I would stand a good chance of finding one in a position that matched the picture I had in mind, and that was my plan for the Sunday morning.


Timing for the picture would be crucial as when the sun gets too high, the subject wouldn’t be backlit and also when the butterfly had dried out, I would struggle to get close to it. I was lucky to find a meadow brown high enough up on some grass such that I could position the sun almost behind it. So with dew-soaked trousers and wet feet (note to self, I need some new walking boots) I positioned myself low and set up the composition. Ideally I would have liked the sun to have been lower, but I was happy with this first attempt. I began my trek out of reserve feeling happy with my morning’s efforts and excited at the thought of trying this again over the coming few days.

However, my happiness soon turned to sadness as a tractor came into Lambrok Meadow and started cutting the grass. From a selfish point of view I was sad because I knew that it would be extremely difficult for me to get the shot again with no grass for the butterflies to perch on. But I was also sad because this wonderful habitat that was supporting myriads of newly emerging insects had now been taken away. 

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