Pristine Swallowtails

Having been taunted by fresh Swallowtail butterflies when we walked up to the cross above Murla recently, today being sunny, we attacked the hill and cross behind Senija, which is a more gentle climb that I can manage with a camera slung over my shoulder on a monopod. This hill is usual a good place stalk butterflies and particularly the two resident species of Swallowtail. I was hopeful.

We had a friend with us and it would also serve as a leg-loosener if we managed to attack a more serious walk with our Monday walking group tomorrow. The three of us set off.

Part way up Francine spotted a couple of emerging, underdeveloped orchids. They gave us a good excuse, if one were needed, to dally and catch a breath. She clicked away for the record. A little further up another one was spotted.

J18_1812 Long-tailed BlueGaining the rocky summit running along to the cross itself, things looked disappointingly quiet on the butterfly front. There were, though, the usual Wall Browns (Lasiommata megera) and I did manage to snag the topside of a Blue, which I’d need my reference book to decide upon. Though the markings look rather paler than usual, I’m pretty confident that this is a Long-tailed Blue (Lampides boeticus). What I should have done was try to get the underside as well which would have put it beyond doubt. [The underside is what one usually gets.]

A coupe of Swallowtails (Papilio machaon) did then zoom by. They flitted and occasionally settled but always at some distance from where I was standing. frustrating little chaps. Then they seemed to disappear. Then they reappeared but again, only briefly and most uncooperatively. They disappeared again. I wandered and found one flitting about a different patch of ground, where it seemed to settle reasonably predictably. I worked myself into the correct position for the light and waited, finally snagging a couple of shots.

J18_1823 Papilio machaonIt’s very early in their flight season and I’m sure they will soon become more plentiful. The nice thing about catching specimens early is that they are likely to be pristine, as yet unworn, with a full complement of two tails that have not yet been damaged. This is one such specimen. [BTW, this picture looks as if it’s been colour-popped but it hasn’t, the bush really was that nondescript grey colour.]

It was worth carrying the camera.

Posted in 2017-2018 Winter
One comment on “Pristine Swallowtails
  1. BlasR says:

    Such beautiful and amazing butterflies. Well worth you lugging camera and knee up hill!

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