Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Butterflies, counting up 2012

Tallying up the butterflies of 2012

1. Peacock butterfly (Inachis io)
Its pretty and its common, exactly what you want from a butterfly.

2. Small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)
Also quite common, but not always as approachable as you might think

3. Painted lady (Vanessa cardui)
Managed to spot a couple at the very end of the season, they are common outside the city but in the centre are quite hard to find.

4. Red admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Towards the end of the summer season this butterfly becomes quite common. It is not unusual to find a bush entirely with examples of this species.

5. Common blue (Polyommatus icarus)
Even those without an interest in insects probably have to admit that the common blue makes a great subject for photography. Its often quite vivid and is relatively approachable. Not to mention that unlike most Irish butterflies its underwing has quite interesting patterns.

6. Speckled wood (Pararge aegeria)
A constant companion on my summer time walks. The speckled wood is probably more interesting behaviourally then visually as it’s quite territorial and aggressively defends its patch from other butterflies. It has also ruined my attempts to photograph nearby species on occasion by scaring them off!

7. Meadow brown (Maniola jurtina)
A well camouflaged butterfly often found sitting with its wings closed and enjoying the camouflage that its brown colouration affords it. With wings open it is actually quite nice to look at, I like those false eyes with the yellowish surroundings.

8. Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus)
I admit I am cheating here; this shot is from last year. This years shots where lost due to camera theft and the only surviving picture is buried somewhere in a facebook page where I can’t find it. I swear, I had pictures!

9. Green veined white (Pieris napi)
Ireland’s most common white butterfly. The green veined is easy enough to identify due to its underwing being patterned with green veins (yes). The other species don’t have this.

10. Small white (Pieris rapae)
Can be hard to tell apart from the large white except that its size is closer to that of the other whites.

11. Large white (Pieris brassicae)
Like the above species but much larger and with a different pattern of black on its wings, in the field its quite easy to tell the size difference.

12. Cryptic wood white (Leptidea juvernica)
Only recently named species, the cryptic wood white is small, has rounded wings and has weak flight. The common wood white is almost identical but is quite hard to find in Ireland. Outside the Burren and select area the cryptic is the primary wood white species.

13. Orange tip (Anthocharis cardamines)
Easy to identify with the males having bright orange tips to their wings and both genders having a distinct green marbling on its underwing. Its flight season is quite short and 2012 was the first year where I managed to catch it on camera.

Species I would like in 2012. Holly blue. Small blue, all the frits, green hairstreak and a couple of others.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dragonflies, counting up 2012

I am counting up the odonate species from the spring to autumn season of 2012 today. I must say I feel a little cheated as one of the best photo shoots I had recently was trapped on my camera when unfortunately it got stolen. That took care of four spotted chaser and emperor dragonfly which I had with great care and patience managed to approach. Grumbling aside, I did rather better with damselflies then dragonflies.

1. Banded demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens) 
From my trip to Carlow I found these beauties clinging to the reeds everywhere by the river. Stunning and a delight are terms I would gladly use for this species. I also found some right in the city centre but couldn’t approach them.

2. Beautiful demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo) 
Considerably harder to approach due to its habit of flying to a nearby tree top when interrupted. Perseverance got me some alright shots though I feel with more time I could have done better.

3. Large red damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) 
Another new one for me this year. The large red damselfly does exactly what it sais on the tin and is rather easy to identify given that it’s the only red species in Ireland.

4. Azure damselfly (Coenagrion puella) 
One of Ireland’s several blue species; the azure can be distinguished most easily by the markings at the base of its tail. This is the blue I encountered most often this year.

5. Common blue damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) 
Much like the above species but again with different markings, the common blue has a different less azure shade (obviously I suppose). My main sight for them is Blarney castle gardens.

6. Blue tailed damselfly (Ischnura elegans) 
Another blue damselfly; this one is not however in the same family and can quite clearly be told apart by its mostly black abdomen which has a bright blue end. Sometimes in flight this delicate creature looks like its carrying a tiny blue light on its tail.

7. Emerald damselfly (Lestes sponsa)
I really wanted to see one of these and after considerable late season searching one is what I got, in the shade with overcast skies, because of this the colours of this species don’t really show in this shot.

8. Emperor dragonfly (Anax imperator) 
Large and impressive species that has moved into Irish parts only recently but is now relatively easy to find. The below shot was meant as a preview of the pictures to come on facebook but now stand as my only emperor pic this year.

9. Migrant hawker (Aeshna mixta) 
Like its name suggests this hawker is migratory and like the emperor it is pretty new in Ireland. It seems to be more approachable then its cousins the common and brown hawkers.

10. Common darter (Sympetrum striolatum) 
My most photographed dragonfly, the common darter appears late in the season but is quite plentiful in places.

Other species I spotted but did not manage to photograph where ruddy darter, black darter, red veined darter, common hawker, brown hawker (likely) & four spotted chaser. Until summer 2013 then for these guys!

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Thought I’d open my gulling season with this ring billed gull that appeared the last week at the cork docks marina some 100m from the bus station. He seems to have arrived earlier then the other regular rings. There aren’t even that many common gulls around yet. The same can not be said of the black headed gulls which have gathered in their thousands. Anyway, I name this fellow Otto as he tends to frequent the same area as the local otters.

Some species I would like to find or photograph better this winter

  • Bewick’s swan 
  • Scaup 
  • Wigeon (just can’t seem to get close enough) 
  • Any goose species (except brent) 
  • Any diver/loon 
  • A jay (dear god just stop screaming and flying away, I swear I am friendly) 
  • Brambling 
  • Sabine’s gull 
  • Glaucous gull 
  • Little gull 
  • Bonaparte’s gull 
  • Yellow legged gull (if I ever figure out how to identify one in the field) 

One of them is bound to be possible, right!? ;)