Welcome, all content is the copyright of the author © Geoff Gradwell
Please do not reproduce without asking. Thanks.
New at this and finding my way around. Any help appreciated!

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Blame Stanley Kubrick for an Orange

"Welly, welly, welly, welly, welly, welly, well. To what do I owe the extreme pleasure of this surprising visit? "... a quote from the film a Clockwork Orange! I'll have to stop this.

Before we start I've thrown in an image of the cherry blossom at my front door, which is a magnificent sight while it is out and this year, so far, it hasn't been decimated by wind and rain. What is interesting is I found a small seedling growing in the gravel one year, probably having passed through the body of a blackbird or something. I put it in a plant pot and to my surprise it survived and grew. Two years later I planted it in the back garden and now have a prunus tree about 20 feet high, which is used by all the birds as they come in to the feeders in the garden and offers them some protection from the marauding Sparrowhawks.

I am even more surprised because this prunus tree has white blossom, the display not quite the match of the pink blossom on the tree at the front – but surprise of surprises – unlike the pink blossom, the back garden tree fruits! Last year I had quite a crop of cherries which I left a few days longer to ripen only to be cleared out in 48 hours by the birds... I didn't mind too much but I wont be so generous this year! I only ate about 30 masen! It did however bring a female blackcap into the garden to feed on the cherries.

I am fortunate at this time of year having Orange Tip butterflies on my doorstep, so needless to say I have been keeping a keen eye out on this species. The idea that butterflies drift about mindlessly on the wind is seriously put to ridicule with the male Orange Tip. He searches up and down the edges of hedgerows and woodland copses for a female with which to mate, rarely taking the time to alight and rest or feed.

As for 'fluttering about' these male Orange Tips could easily give Usain Bolt a run for his money, direct in their pursuits – I have now learned not to even try to keep up with them. I plonk myself on known areas and 'sit' in the middle and wait, in this way I can cover 360 degrees; eventually one will turn up patrolling the edge of the woodland or hedgerow.

Any 'white' butterfly may draw my attention and also seem to come in for some grief, as the male Orange Tip attempts to ensure the territory is his and his alone and actively pursues usurpers. While I have watched him doing this, three Speckled Wood rise into the air in some sort of twisted aerial combat again fighting over territory and females.

While on the subject of fighting – I have posted another image of the Typhoon that come in down the flight path locally, primarily because this one is fully 'suited and booted' with all the armaments pods loaded – I hope he doesn't lose one on approach or Preston might be getting a new ring road!

The Common Sandpiper was taken early one morning at Newton Marsh.

Male Orange Tip
Cherry blossom
Speckled Wood – worth a second look, now look again
Suited and Booted Typhoon
Common Sandpiper

Now like the male Orange Tip, I have been looking out for a female Orange Tip – she's the one without any orange and is easily confused with other white butterflies – my searches led to a Green Veined White, but telling the difference without seeing the underside is problematic (for me anyway). However, if I could find a female Orange Tip and follow her, I was hoping a male Orange Tip would do the same. They have been far fewer than the males and appear later, a few weks after the males.

After many days and hours I did indeed find a female. Following her at a discrete distance, they don't like you getting too close, I ducked and weeved ('arry) until hope beyond hope, she ran into a male Orange Tip. Settling on a Blackberry bramble the male was clearly interested. Trying to get close and trying to get in position for photos for what I knew would be a limited opportunity meant the sun was 'against' me but provided opprtunity for some interesting lighting.

The male was clearly beside himself and excited to see her and I was anticipating mating to take place – however I am fairly certain the photos show the female was not interested and had a headache, indeed her posture is one of refusal. I didn't see any mating occur. Perhaps one of you better informed than masen can let me know in the Comments – I'd be pleased to hear from anyone.

So there we are, 'not mating', and I do quite like the images I have posted – so if you are wondering what the circles are in the background they are a 'watermark' in a small way to protect the images from being used or reproduced without my permission (images of Orange Tip are fairly common but 'not mating' less so)  –  I hope they don't interfere with your ability to view the photos.

A couple of images are included because I like the image and as this female was settling on daisies I have attempted to include one about life-size to demonstrate the others are close-up details, note the yellow pollen on the hairs of the butterfly... and as the male Orange Tip fly back and forth, like an automated mechanical wind-up toy.... just like clockwork!

Enjoy. As always, double-clicking an image provides larger image and slideshow.

Female Orange Tip
Can be difficult to distinguish from other white butterflies
Female Orange Tip – underside of the wing

Male Orange Tip finds a mate
Female 'not interested' pose
'I have a headache'
just 'sod off'
about actual size


Martin Jump said...

Brilliant story,brilliant images Geoff,those Orange Tips are something else,they are stunning butterflies and you have done them justice with these wonderful images.Who said patience doesn't pay.Very well deserved and thank you for sharing.

Pete Woodruff said...

Some excellent Orange Tip images here Geoff.