I don’t know the butterfly’s given name of course: my title refers to the casual way it’s standing on a shieldbug nymph, like a Victorian big-game hunter posing with their unfortunate victim. Luckily for the nymph though, the Gatekeeper isn’t going to have it stuffed and mounted on a plinth in the billiard room.
This was my last photo of the day, taken in Tilly’s field, with the late afternoon sun lighting the meadow rather prettily. I’d just spent a soothing ten minutes or so watching a pair of female Southern Hawkers hunting back and forth over one of the mown paths, but hadn’t bothered to try to photograph them, and having had an otherwise poor day with the camera I was lucky to score this posing butterfly as I was making my way back towards home.
I’m still quite annoyed with myself – no, make that extremely annoyed – at having messed up my best photographic opportunity of the
day week month summer, in the wild garden, about an hour before I went out for this walk. I was looking for yesterday’s Green Shieldbug, which as I predicted has suddenly made itself scarce, but as I searched the leaves of the hemp agrimony I was suddenly transfixed by the sight of a ruby-tailed wasp.
I’ve wanted to see one of these extraordinary creatures since I first came across photos of them, but I’d never seen one in our garden before this summer. One day last month I thought I caught sight of one on the arm of the garden bench, but it disappeared before I could be certain, so I dismissed the thought; today though, I was less than half a metre away from the tiny, astonishing, turquoise and pink beauty, and was wearing my glasses, so I saw it absolutely clearly. And better yet, I had camera and macro in my hand. But in my excitement I twitched, and the wasp flew – and though I immediately retreated under the tree canopy and stood very still for several minutes, it didn’t return.
Head: meet desk.