Orange-tip but­ter­fly so elu­sive

Rossendale Free Press - - Wildlife -

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.

To sup­port the work of the Wildlife Trust for Lan­cashire, Manch­ester and North Mersey­side text WILD09 with the amount you want to do­nate to 70070.

An orange-tip at Ash­tons Field in Lit­tle Hul­ton

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