With some nice sunshine yesterday morning, I decided to visit East Blean Woods again to see if I could photograph some Heath Fritillaries. Today's target was to try and find and photograph a mating pair and although I have photographed this before, it has often been quite rushed with the results not being that good. I arrived about 10am and there were already a few flying around the car park area along with a few Meadow Brown and 1 Comma. I spent about an hour or so in the first clearing as you leave the car park where I noted c 30 Heath Fritillary flying along with a few Ringlet and 1 Large Skipper. There were photo opportunities to be had everywhere but I focused in on the task and continued my search. Every now and then you would see males chasing females and all crashing onto the floor where they tried to win her over, the female normally managing to escape from this but eventually after a good search around, I found a pair that looked like they were going to mate and without any other males to put him off, they were soon coupled up where they stayed engaged for c45 minutes. This gave me ample time to set up the camera and look at various angles and backgrounds whilst also managing to fight off attacks from the local wood ants. I wish I had brought my tripod but I had to make do with the monopod and hand held shots on this occasion. It become cloudy for a while meaning I had to use in camera flash and turned to manual mode, ISO 400, speed set to 400 and f8-f11. Although my subject was not moving, it was quite tricky to get both of them in full focus, there was normally some part that was moving in the wind and although frustrating, I ended up with a few pleasing images, easily my best attempts so far at this. I also worked out that if I photographed them from the other side, that were green/yellow leaves which provided some nice contrast with the butterflies. All in all, a well spent hour photographing this rare butterfly on my doorstep. Now to think up another challenge for another day!
Heath Fritillary (mating pair)