Sunday, 26 June 2016

Photographing Insects

Yesterday morning the skies cleared, the wind set itself firmly in the north, and Kilchoan looked set for a beautiful day, so we set off to walk along the Ormsaigbeg shoreline. Then, from the bay below the Twin's House, we climbed Maol Buidhe at the southwest end of the township, and finally made our way home along the common grazings fence.

The bright sunshine and temperatures which worked their way upwards into the low 20s Celsius  brought out the insects, including....

....amongst the pebbles and rocks along the shore, these red spider mites. They're tiny, and they don't stand still, so taking a picture involved pushing the camera almost against the rock surface while, at the same time, finding the bug in the viewfinder and trying to keep it in the sun.

The rocks they crawled over were well below the day's high-tide mark so we wondered how the mites survive a twice daily inundation.

There are probably more common blues now than any other butterfly but they don't like being approached, so taking a picture of them has to be from about two metres. It's an irritating distance as it's on the margins of the camera's macro setting.

This beauty is a male. Looking in my photo library, all the common blue pictures are of males, so either the males are far more accommodating when it comes to photography, or there's a local shortage of females.

The small heath's habit of burying itself in the undergrowth and hoping that the warning spot will put off any predator means that it can be photographed from close-up using the macro setting. But it has an irritating habit - it refuses to open its wings when it's on the ground. As a result, I have never managed a picture of the top sides of a small heath's wings.

Having tried, without success, to photograph several meadow browns in the grassland at the top of the croft fields, this one not only sat still until I had approached to within a metre, but also chose a delicate shade of fern leaf as a background.

It was while chasing one of the more unco-operative meadow browns that....

....I stumbled across the first six-spot burnet of the year. It's a little early for this species of day-flying moth - they usually appear in early July - but it wasn't alone, so perhaps 2016 is going to be a good year for them.

The first picture was from several metres away, so I could at least prove that I'd seen one, but this individual allowed me to approach closer and closer and closer - until this shot was taken from about 5cm.

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