Wednesday, 25 July 2018

A Dance or a Fight?

I was asked recently to unearth my photos of male Adders fighting or dancing, which were taken 8 years ago.  I have no idea why I only put a handful on the blog at the time, and the others were forgotten.  Having revisited them I thought it may be quite interesting to present them in the order that they were taken.  These are all full frame images with no editing or even basic photoshopping.  It's a shame that I'd never be able to include any on my wildlife calendars, as they would definitely depress sales!  In spring male Adders fight each other to determine which individual will mate with females.  Although they are fighting, it has often been described as a dance as they entwine around each other attempting to gain supremacy over the other.  These photos were taken on 25 April 2010 at Hatfield Moor with an audience of around 6 Yorkshire birders, nearly all of whom were attempting to take pictures or film of them fighting. Our attention was drawn originally, as far as I remember, by the rustling in the dead bracken. These snakes were continually moving, so it was difficult to ensure the 2 creatures both remained in focus, and even in the frame, at the same time!  As far as I remember the fight lasted around 10 minutes, but in reality it probably wasn't as long as that!
2 male Adders

 The Possible Reason for the Fight

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Final 'New' Butterfly Species Photographed

Yesterday was the third and final visit within a week to the same Lincolnshire wood.  Every visit the butterflies seen and active have been quite different from the previous trip.  This time there were no Purple Emperors, and no Hairstreaks of any species were seen clearly, although we may have caught glimpses of them flying swiftly high up towards the canopy.  There was also only one White Admiral seen this time, but at least there was a tatty female Silver-Washed Fritillary to photograph.  Presumably, the reason every visit has been different is because of the strength of the sun on each particular visit.  The hot weather we've been 'enduring' has also had an effect.  Some species have emerged earlier than expected, and then instead of spending a few days sheltering, and waiting for the weather to improve, this year they have been able to spend many consecutive days active and chasing each other high among the tree tops.  They have therefore performed all their reproductive functions and have worn themselves out before the time when the last individual is normally seen.  
Female Silver-Washed Fritillary
The first two photographs cunningly conceal the worse aspects of the tatty wings of the butterfly.  Unfortunately, this is not the case with the remainder of the photos.  The Silver-Washed Fritillary is the second largest Fritillary in Europe, and the male is a stunning bright orange.  This female is a lot paler, and she has certainly seen better days.  
Tattiness revealed