Orange-tip butterfly so elusive
I NEED tips on photographing orangetips.
I have had a really frustrating fortnight trying to get a picture of a butterfly that is one of the stars of spring.
The orange-tip is a gorgeous sight at this time of year, you can see their dancing flight as they flit from flower to flower in the sunlight.
The first one I saw was close to my mum’s in Walkden on the linear path, which is a wonderful link between Leigh and Eccles, a former railway line offering a great chance for wildlife to network without barriers.
It stayed just the other side of a huge patch of nettles and my telephoto just wouldn’t pick it up. Then I spent a good hour following an orange-tip around our Foxhill Bank nature reserve in Oswaldtwistle.
Again it just sat outside my range.
Then, back onto the former railway path that also stretches up towards Bolton. This time it was at Ashtons Field, a local nature reserve in Little Hulton, where there are lock gates but no canal.
It’s actually underground. I spotted the orange-tip on reeds near to the lock gates and managed to get a few shots before it fluttered away. Not one of them was perfect, I hadn’t factored in the bright sunshine. You will be able to spot orange-tips in woodland, meadows and, if you are lucky, your garden or a local park. They fly between April and July, after their caterpillars have spent some time gorging on garlic mustard, cuckooflower and hedge mustard. They are easy to spot being white, with half of their forewing orange, with light grey wingtips.
The white masses of green-veined, large white and small white butterflies are around at the moment but the orange wings of the orange-tips make them stand out in that lovely crowd. I have just walked through Lancaster city centre and saw the shadow of a butterfly above my head, it was a small white.
Isn’t this a wonderful time of year when the sun in shining?
Female orange-tips do not have the orange wings of the males and look like small versions of the whites. But she can be distinguished by the mottled, mossy grey pattern of the underside of her hindwings which is very pretty. Hindwings are the outsides of the butterfly’s wings when they are resting, the forewings are the ones you seen when they open up and stretch out in the sunlight.
Most butterflies will take their time and enjoy the sun while you are snapping away with your camera, not my orangetips though. So keep an eye out for these stars of spring and early summer but don’t ignore the other lovely insects that are buzzing around at the moment.
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An orange-tip at Ashtons Field in Little Hulton