A dawn raid

tawny_owlI hope you like these shots; I got up at 3.45am to get them! I’m not usually an early riser, but I had read that the silver studded blue butterflies roost communally and having experienced how skittish they are in the heat of the day, never settling for more than a moment, I hoped to catch them when they were still chilly and sedentary.

So I set my alarm for 4am but was awake and up 15 minutes before. I was at Puttenham Common well before sunrise (due at 4.58am) and had a brisk walk through the woods, stopping only to investigate a repeated loud squawking. I tracked the noisy culprit down to a big oak; it was a juvenile tawny owl, calling incessantly to its parents (sounding exactly like this, but much louder). He was very fluffy, jumping from branch to branch in the half light!

I had a hoped-for shot in my head of dozens of butterflies crowded on a bush, flexing their wings in the dawn light. It wasn’t quite like that, unfortunately. 😀 I spent an hour pacing the area, finding only one or two butterflies roosting head down on the heather. I was at a bit of a loss as to where they’d all gone, as they don’t move far from home their entire lives.

sunrise_at_puttenhamIt was gorgeous just being there as the sun rose above the trees, the whole common to myself, golden light suffusing the horizon. If only I hadn’t been shivering with the cold it would have been absolutely perfect. It was around 6am that the sun finally climbed high enough to hit the heather, and I’d still only seen a few butterflies clustered on the heather. I started photographing them, and then noticed one at the top of a stem of wavy hair grass.

‘Ooh I didn’t notice that one’, I thought, and then noticed another, and another. I then realised that dozens of silver studded blues were crawling out of the dense bell heather near the ground and climbing up the delicate red stems of the wavy hair grass. It was tricky getting good shots of them, as the wavy hair grass is well named; slender as hair and waving like mad in the slightest breeze. It makes for a beautiful sight on heathland, a sea of constantly shifting red gold. Not easy to photograph though.

More photos to come.

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9 thoughts on “A dawn raid

  1. Pingback: Last of the Silver Studded Blues | The Foraging Photographer

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