Saturday the 21st July saw Mike Pickwell and myself visiting three different places in our quest for wildlife photographs. An early start as I was picking Mike up at 07:00 to make the hour drive to Southrey wood near Bardney in Lincolnshire. Southrey wood Is a Forestry commission wood with public access. Our target species at Southrey were White Admiral butterflies.
The forecast was good with temperatures expected to reach around 22/23 degrees centigrade. A touch of summer for us at last. It was foggy when I left home but about half way to Mike's house the fog lifted and it looked like being a lovely day. We were soon on our way to Southrey. A few miles into the journey we ran into fog again, however it was short lived and by the time we arrived at Southrey it was a lovely sunny morning. I decided to use the Canon 100mm hand held today as there was plenty of light to get a decent shutter speed.
On setting up our gear and walking down the main ride through the wood we were a little disappointed to see that the forestry commission had been thinning out the wood. This was not a problem as it's perfectly reasonable wood management. The problem was though that the logs from the wood had all been stacked down the side of the ride where the butterflies were most easily photographed. There was about a fifty yards area at the top of the ride nearest the entrance that was clear and a similar stretch at the bottom of the ride.
Not to be deterred we carried on in the hope of seeing the White Admirals. There were a few Brown Hawker dragonflies that were very flighty. Mike however did manage to get a photograph of one. There were also a couple of Broad-bodied Chaser dragonflies, a male and a female and I managed nice shots of both of them. There were also a few Common Darters that were pretty flighty.
Female Broad-bodied Chaser
As we continued looking for the White Admirals I spotted a small butterfly flitting about in the grass and my first thought was that it was a Ringlet. On further investigation it turned out to be a Purple Hairstreak. I did get a shot of it but it was absolutely rubbish, Lol so I won't show it on here. Nonetheless it was the first time I have seen a Purple Hairstreak so I was well happy with just seeing it. We eventually spotted a White Admiral but high up in the Oak trees, in fact we saw at least three but they never came within photographic range. We stayed at Southrey until around 10:15 with no luck on the White Admirals. We then decided to make our way to Chambers Farm Wood, another forestry commission wood. Here we thought we might find grass snakes as it was warm and sunny there was a good chance they would be basking in the sun.
Our luck wasn't in though despite extensive searching in the place where they are well known to be we drew a blank. We did see a few other insects though and I managed a nice photograph of a Southern Hawker dragonfly. Mike also managed to photograph a Common Lizard.
By now it was lunch time and a pleasant half hour was spent in the picnic area before we decided to move on to Red hill. Red Hill is an old red chalk stone quarry with a large meadow area as well. Mike and I had been here on the 7th June to photograph the Marbled White butterflies. On that occasion they had only just recently emerged and were a bit thin on the ground so as we were fairly close to Red Hill it was a perfect opportunity to try for a few more photographs.
It was quite breezy at Red Hill, and as the name suggests it is at the top of a steep hill set in beautiful surroundings on the Lincolnshire Wolds. We had barely got out of the car when Mike spotted a Marbled White, a good start. There were definitely a few more about than on our previous visit but they were no less flighty than the last time. It was hard work trying to get photographs especially a closed wing shot that I wanted. There was a patch of Knapweed that was in flower and one or two of the Marbled Whites seemed to be favouring this. We waited at the ready by the side of the Knapweed and I did eventually get a closed wing shot. If the marbled White just lands to rest, it rests with wings open. If it lands to feed, it feeds with wings closed.
Marbled White feeding on Knapweed
We spent about an hour and a half at Red Hill and we both got photographs we were happy with before we made our way home. We had failed this year with the White Admirals but there is always another year and it's not all about getting the photographs. It's a hobby that I enjoy a lot it, gets me out and about in the county of Lincolnshire that I love. (and sometimes other counties as well) I finish this post with an open winged photograph of a lovely Marbled White.