Last week, myself and some friends headed to Devon, hoping to see a particular species of butterfly – the Wood White (Leptidea sinapis). Unfortunately, the Wood White (as far as I’m aware) doesn’t seem to hold territory in Cornwall, hence our adventure across the border. We visited a private nature reserve, located near Ashwater, known to be home to the species.
Upon arrival to the reserve, we were alert and poised. The first hour involved us pursuing all things vaguely white and butterfly-like.
Initially, we enjoyed an abundance of Green-veined White (Pieris napi). Stopping frequently to sup nectar, I spent some time photographing them. The clear black fingers on their underwing are characteristic, distinguishing them from other white’s:
This Common White Wave (Cabera pusaria) almost had us fooled, before landing:
Eventually though, we found our target, fluttering low over the vegetation towards us. When it landed for a brief moment, we managed to pot it against a cushion of moss, giving us the opportunity to take a closer look:
Quite a dainty and fragile looking butterfly, but boy can it go some! After taking away the pot, the butterfly quickly took off, leaving me hot (or rather not) on its trail. Hurrying on with its own pre-determined agenda, it led me through fields and over hedgelines, clambering over fences and jumping over pools (not always successfully). The chase lasted a good while, resulting in heavy breathing, wet feet, and a series of blurry images. All part of the fun!
Other highlights during our time on the reserve included identifying my first ever hoverfly – The Footballer (Helophilus pendulus). Here, a pair, best of mates:
And finally, we witnessed one of those moments that make you stop in your tracks. An Emperor Dragonfly (Anax imperator) hunting in close quarters (certainly impressive in itself) snapped up a Green-veined White right in front of us, landed nearby, and went ahead in slowly making a meal of it: