Saturday, May 25, 2013

Orange tip

Orange tip butterfly
Anthocharis cardamines hibernica

In Ireland, the orange tip butterfly is the most colourful of the pieridae (white) butterflies in that the males have bright orange tips to their wings and both sexes have a quite distinctive marbled green pattern on their underwings. It is a widespread species, occurring in every county.

Ireland has its own endemic subspecies ‘Hibernica’which flies for a relatively short time each year from April to June. This year it’s been very slow to emerge due to bad weather and is only now (in late May) in full flight. Females technically look like they can be confused with other white species but in the field are quite easy to tell apart.

Photographing them is a bit of a challenge as they are quite flighty but with patience the butterfly will occasionally take longer breaks on flowers and when the sky becomes overcast. It doesn’t often seem to open its wings flat, instead preferring to have wings half open. This unfortunately makes it quite challenging to get both the head and wings in focus. Presumably this is not as much of a problem for a higher spec camera. I usually shoot with an ISO around 200 and f8 to get a good enough shutter speed but better cameras should be able to get f11 and up easily and reduce the head/wings depth problem. Lenses used are my 28-135mm lens and my 18-55mm lens with diopter. I do occasionally use my 300mm but prefer not to as details on the head and body rarely work out.

Female orange tip. They usually stay close to foodplants whilst the males wander further
Orange tips are one of the smaller white species in Ireland

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Glaucous gull / Grote Burgemeester

Glaucous gull
Grote Burgemeester
Larus hyperboreus
2nd cycle

FINALLY a glaucous gull showed up in Cork city. After months (over a year in fact) of either missing this species altogether or getting a single flyover, I wasn’t expecting to see one until next winter. I even got some shots I am happy with! Next stop, an adult glaucous gull.

I have now seen little gull, Sabine's gull, Kumlien’s gull, Iceland gull, Ring billed gull, Mediterranean Gull and glaucous gull this winter. The first two need better shots next year but I am relatively happy with the rest. This seems a fitting end to the gull season for me. Next year hopefully I will have the chance to catch up with Bonaparte's Gull, American herring gull and yellow legged gull, each of which will undoubtedly confuse the crap out of me as they are so similar to black headed, herring and lesser black backed gulls. Fingers crossed!

no the water was not flowing at an angle. The bird itself distracted me too much to remember to shoot from a flat angle

Apparently a good ID marker for glaucous is that its usually dominant to herring gulls (unlike icelands). I think attempting to land on a herring gull's back definitly counts as dominant behaviour!

2 seconds after I reached the canal on day 3 I found him again looking straight up at me

Not going to get closer then this frankly