Over the years I have often found that this time of the year isn't all that great for photographing birds. I think last year I drove all around mid-Wales and came home with a solitary image of a juvenile robin, something I could have captured in my garden. Add to this, the temperature and heat haze, and unless the bird is close, the shots can be a little soft. Hence, I usually dig out my macro lens, and go in search of something much smaller, and closer.
A friend who is very interested in butterflies mentioned he'd been to a place called Grafton Wood, which is one of Worcestershire Wildlife Trust's sites, in search of purple hairstreaks. He'd seen them before, but said it was a good spot for them. As I researched where the reserve was located, I realised I had been exploring the surrounding area the day before! And had found a spotted flycatcher as I looked.
And on it, were many small butterflies, most of which I had seen before. But one was a bit different, and by deduction based on my woeful lack of knowledge, I hoped it might be a purple hairstreak. Didn't look very purple though, but I could get close, and grabbed a few shots before it flew off, when a large hornet thundered around the flowers.
Excellent, and off I went, leaving them to scan the area for the brown I'd just seen. The path was exactly where they'd said, and was a hive of insect activity. I scanned each clump of flowers, but couldn't see any more of the hairstreaks, so continued my stroll through the reserve. And what a fabulous place it is, especially on such a hot afternoon. Insects everywhere, from bees, wasps, flies, hornets and beetles, to butterflies, moths and some rather large crickets. And the scent of the flowers was gorgeous too.
Not knowing where I was going, nor having any sort of plan, I just mooched around, and found an area which was a mass of colour, and seemed to be attracting all manner of butterflies. Brimstones were fluttering all around, so I chased them, eventually catching one as it landed on a yellow flower. In the bright sunshine, it was a job to keep a lid on the exposure though, so took a shot, checked and then adjusted to get better ones.
Cue a meeting on Saturday morning, and we (with his partner Tracey and their dog, Jess) were scouring the woods again for hairstreaks. Problem was this time it had rained heavily the day before, and the air-temperature was about 8 degrees down on when I'd been there before. Persistence is the key, and eventually Steve spotted a brown hairstreak on a leaf beside the main path, and he got the shots he was after.