Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Wood fairies

Wood White, Leptidea sinapis on Stitchwort
Yesterday we had a break in the weather so I headed to the Surrey border near Chiddingfold hoping to see Wood Whites. I parked by the Botany Bay gate which leads to Tugley Wood and Oaken Wood and proceeded to scan the verges for this delicate fairy-like insect. Suddenly a brilliant blue butterfly fluttered across the path and flew around me then landed on a fresh piece of horse dung. It proceeded to take in mineral salts and I took plenty of photos before trying to move it to something green. It did not appreciate this and after fluttering around it landed on another of its preferred feeding places.

After crossing the bridge over the stream I met Dave Miller whose latest blog post I had read earlier in the day. Small world! Dave was watching two Wood Whites, having seen six in total. I saw several after this, then  one landed on a Stitchwort and I saw that it was disturbing a mating pair. For the next hour I sat and photographed this pair and observed the male continually trying, and failing, to join in the fun. At one point a second male joined in. I wanted to obtain some open wing shots and as Wood Whites never settle with wings open, the only way to do this is to use a high shutter speed. 4000th second produced some acceptable results.

I also met Neil Hulme and his parents who were taking advantage of this window of good weather. By this time I was Wood-Whited out and I returned home tired but content to start processing a thousand photos. I saw twelve Wood Whites during the trip.

Holly Blue, Celastrina argiolus
St. Mark's Fly, Bibio marci, mating pair, male is the lower one
Wood White, Leptidea sinapis, male
Wood White, Leptidea sinapis, male

Wood Whites, Leptidea sinapis, mating pair, male on right
2 males trying to displace the mating male

intruding male settles to work out new tactics!


  1. Hi Colin,

    You've put some fantastic photos on your blog this year, but I think these ones of the Wood Whites are the best so far! The ones that capture the butterfly in flight are particularly impressive, although I also really like the one with the trees in the background (the 9th one down) - it has a fabulous 3D effect.

  2. Thanks Paul, I enjoyed the moment (or couple of hours).


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