Mini-beast mini-Blipmeet

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Hillyblips and I met at the Wyre Forest Nature Reserve this morning, and chugged along the disused railway bed in bright sunshine, in pursuit of Pearl-bordered Fritillaries. This is one of the earliest fritillaries to emerge in the UK, and has a relatively short flight season, so we were keen to immortalise them today; but though there were dozens flying they were extremely skittish, and for the first hour they had us flitting around like…. well, like slightly desperate women carrying lots of gear, and getting hotter, thirstier, and more frustrated by the minute, as we chased hither and yon after them.

Just as I was beginning to think that I might need a bit of a lie-down over on the shadier side of the track, the PBFs began to look a bit tired as well. Although the first time Hillyblips said they were slowing down I thought she was hallucinating, and gave her a Special Look, it fairly quickly became clear that she was right, as they began to come – very briefly – to rest. At that point things could easily have turned nasty, as we competed to hurl ourselves at any butterfly that landed, but we managed to keep things relatively decorous, and more or less avoided beating each other about the head with our lenses.

I think it had been in both our minds to do the entire 5.7km butterfly trail at the site this morning; but by the time we were about half way along the railway bed it was early afternoon and we were pretty much butterflied out, so we decided to call it a day. I arrived home with 508 files, but it didn’t take me long to cull 90% of them, and by the time I’ve been through the rest I doubt that I’ll end up keeping more than half a dozen shots: the combination of harsh light, a messy background, and subjects that just wouldn’t keep still, pretty much defeated me. Hillyblips posted this image, which I like very much, while I was still out at BGCC this evening, leaving me feeling even more pressure to come up with something reasonable; and I’ve decided to go with this one – even though I didn’t totally nail the focus on the eyes – because it shows the lovely underwing pattern quite nicely, and I’m fairly happy with the composition. Because PBFs do have startlingly dramatic eyes, I’ve posted a photo that features them to my Facebook page; that shot was taken with the macro lens, but for this one I used the 100-400 at full stretch.