Over the years I have visited several nature reserves on the lookout for the elusive brown hairstreak butterfly. I have seen them (once) before but never got a picture. That was on a visit to The Welsh Wildlife Centre in Pembrokeshire. It was displaying just behind my car low to ground in a perfect position to have its picture taken. Sadly, my camera was in that car beneath all our holiday luggage.
My brown hairstreak saga still continues. I look for it on my weekly butterfly transects of Lynchcombe, and I’ve even visited reserves down in Dorset. But with no luck.
So today I headed out to Netherclay Community Woodland near Taunton. It is getting late in the season so I was getting a bit worried. On the other hand there have been lots of recent brown hairstreak sightings posted on Facebook so I felt lucky.
This was my first either visit to Netherclay and I was so exited!
This is a small community woodland owned by the Somerset Wildlife Trust. Along the northern edge are hawthorn and blackthorn as well as ash and oak. I decided to concentrate on this part of the reserve.
The immediate impact was the large numbers of common darters. So I took some time out from my quest and capture them backlit.
The River Tone runs along the southern edge of the reserve. It has some quaint old bridges and lots of over hanging trees. Its home to some special golden-ringed dragonflies. This one patrolled one of the glades, flying up and down before having a rest.
The reserve is crisscrossed with footpath. Some deep in shade, others in the warm sunshine. The brown hairstreaks spend a lot of time high in the trees only dropping down to lay their eggs on hawthorn. So a loitered around each bush on the lookout.
This time of year hawthorn is covered in sloe berries.
While on my hunt the other usually suspects made appearances: speckled wood, meadow brown, red admiral, comma and small whites.
Holly blues put in a special appearance feeding on the ivy flowers.
It was good to see their wings open.
In the centre of this bush is a brown hairstreak butterfly. Its pretty hard to spot but I finally got my picture.
Here are some zoomed in sections showing the butterfly. Its a bit hidden but its definitely a brown hairstreak.
This second picture is clearer but the camera focused on the leaves not the butterfly.
So its was a success. I eventually got my picture even if its tiny and out of focus. Next year I will get the picture I really wanted and post it on Facebook with all the others.