Saturday, July 22, 2017

Beautiful blue butterflies

Macro image of a vibrant common blue butterfly on a thistle leaf

In my recent excursions to photograph the insects that are about and about in abundance this time of year, I have had an eye out for blue butterflies, but I’ve not actually come across any, and the more I didn’t see any, the more I’ve been hankering to discover some.

The common blue would be the species I’d most likely find, as it is the most widespread of the blue butterflies in Britain, and as the name suggests, it is one of the most common butterflies in Europe. 

close up image of female common blue butterfly with a male in the background
A female rests on some grass, with a male rattling about behind her.

The males are unashamedly conspicuous, with a striking bluish-violet colour, but females, whose behaviour tends to be more secretive, are brown with orange spots near the margins of the wings. In both sexes, the undersides of the wings are greyish brown with blackish spots and orange crescents towards the margins of the wings.

A common blue butterfly spreads its wings at Ouse Fen Nature Reserve
A male with wings spread, showing off its vibrant colour.

Thankfully, on a recent walk, I happened across a small colony of common blues fluttering among the flowers and grasses, so I headed back the other day, camera in hand, to grab a few shots of the little scamps. And they are indeed quite little, their wingspans only measuring about half that of a red admiral for example.

Close up image of a beautifully patterned female common blue butterfly
A female displays the intricate pattern on her underwing.

So needless to say, and yet for some reason I am going to say it anyway, capturing any decent shots of them proved to be a tough ask, especially as the males rarely settled in one spot, and seemed intent on endlessly flitting about and battling with each other, rather than staying still for my viewing pleasure. But I persisted, and after a couple of hours I had the shots I was after, and there was nothing they could do about it.

Macro image of wing pattern on a male common blue butterfly
And here is the pattern on the male, very similar but slightly lighter.

Close up image of a pair of female common blue butterfly one with wings closed and the other open
Two females, one with wings open, the other closed, which was very good of them.

A male common blue butterfly rests on a green leaf with wings open
I didn't see any of them feeding while I was there, just flapping about and resting.

Butterfly flaps through the grasses in this shallow depth of field image
And he's off!

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