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A Day Out In Somerset

Greenwings Somerset Photography Day July 21st 2023

The weather in July has been very much a mixed bag with sun, warmth, wind and rain and the odd storm blowing through. However we definitely got lucky with the weather for our day on the Polden Hills in search of butterflies, grasshoppers, crickets and anything else we could find.

It was an early start, meeting at 5:45am ready to head out and find the butterflies while they were still roosting form the chilly night. Our first find was a marbled white on a field scabious closely followed by 6 spot burnet moths, a small skipper and meadow brown butterflies. It seems this year has been a really good year for the 6-spot burnet moths as we saw a huge number of them and very good numbers of meadow browns too.

Keen eyes of everyone helped locate a fresh migrant hawker, a lot of grasshoppers and crickets as well as the butterflies.

It wasn't long before we found something very exciting, a pink grasshopper! The pink colour occurs as the result of a genetic mutation called erythrism and is caused by a recessive gene similar to that which affects albino animals. This mutation results in one of two things happening or even a combination of the two; a reduction or even absence of the normal pigment and/or the excessive production of other pigments, in this case red which results in pink morphs. We found one almost entirely pink grasshopper and another later in the day that just had pink legs.

It took a little while to find the first of our blue butterfly species, a common blue and after getting our eye in we located both brown argus and finally a gorgeous fresh chalkhill blue butterfly, a species that is special to this particular site. As the sun came out and started to warm the grassland we also found small copper butterfly and another special species to the site, the rufous grasshopper, a nationally scarce species.

With a good morning recording and photographing numerous species of butterflies and moths, it was time for break and a bite to eat before setting out again in search of grasshoppers and hopefully wasp spiders and we weren't to be disappointed. After much hunting the wasp spiders were eventually located, finding three females and a male in their webs and we were even lucky enough to observe a grasshopper jump into the web of one female and see the speed at which she wraps it in silk.

In total we saw 10 species of butterfly (weren't able to photograph all of them), several species of moth including micro moths, several species of grasshopper and cricket, three species of spider and two species of dragonfly.

All my images were taken with Canon 5DMKIII with Canon 100mm macro and all in situ exactly as we found them, no backgrounds or additional light used.

Thank you to everyone that attended the day and made it a relaxing and enjoyable time.

We are busy planning dates for 2024, if you're interested in joining me for a day out keep an eye on the events post as I will update this as events are confirmed.

Best wishes, Victoria.

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