Back from the dead

It only rested there for a few seconds but that was long enough for me to get my photo…


The Large Blue Butterfly has always been a rare sight in the UK and sadly, after 50 years of unsuccessful measures to prevent its decline, it was finally declared extinct in this country in 1979.  However, all was not lost.  A later re-introduction at a number of suitable sites followed by meticulous habitat management has proved to be highly successful.  This fantastic butterfly, the largest and most spectacular of our blue butterfly species, is once again flying over our grassland.

A couple of years ago I made a trip to Daneway Banks in Gloucestershire, one of the re-introduction sites, in an attempt to see this wonderful butterfly.  I was fortunate enough to see one but it didn’t settle and I only saw it fleetingly.  So this year, I decided to return to the same spot to see if I could photograph one.  On the day I visited the site it was over 30 C and there was no wind.  It was one of the hottest June days of recent years so it ought to have been ideal for butterfly photography.

I walked around the site for over two hours in the blistering midday heat but despite there being loads of other butterfly species around, and one or two other photographers who said there were indeed some around, I had seen none.  So I thought I’d make the best of it and grab some photos of whatever else showed itself.  There was a recently fledged Long-tailed tit and some Broad-bodied chaser dragonflies around a dew pond at the top of the hill.  I felt I’d got some good photos so my trip was at least partially successful.

Long-tailed tit
A recently fledged Long-tailed tit
Broad-bodied chaser
A male Broad-bodied chaser rests between hunting flights

So believing I had lucked-out I decided to pack up and go home.  As I walked to the bottom of the hill three Large Blues flitted past me and immediately disappeared.  It all happened so fast, I started to doubt what I’d seen.  I stood there for another fifteen minutes watching and waiting.  But then my luck was in.  Another flew past slow enough for me to follow it along the hillside for a hundred yards or so when it settled on a vetch flower to feed.  It only rested there for a few seconds but that was long enough for me to get my photo.  I hope you like it.

Large Blue Butterfly
A magnificent Large Blue Butterfly