It was a bit of a frustrating day on Friday the 13th, although enjoyable, with Nigel taking me up to the Cambridge area for the Black Hairstreak. Like most hairstreaks they are often seen flying at the top of the canopy with very few visits to low level. This was the case yesterday, not helped by there being very little in the way of nectaring flowers for the butterflies. This is now my 4th attempt at this species with this one being my best day yet there. The area we were watching is very small and often gets overcrowded, in fact more than 3 people is probably too much. At one point there were 10 people in the small area and with this we left for a while to get some lunch.
Most of the time we were there, around 6 hours, the hairstreaks were active with probably 6-8 individuals seen in total. The best time for us was after lunch when we had the area to ourselves for a while. Eventually a superb female was seen at the right height by another chap and after he and Nigel had taken a few photos it was my turn. As often happens I got a quick record shot and was then moving in a little for a better shot when it flew off!! A little while later I found another female wandering about the blackthorn looking for a place to lay eggs. Once again a couple of record shots of this activity was all I managed. It was however, a great day with the best views I've ever had of this rare butterfly. Although I have improved on my Black Hairstreak photographs I still have a way to go to get pictures that I will be really happy with.
During lunch I saw my first Ringlet and Silver Washed Fritillary of the year and as we were leaving a White Admiral was seen, so 4 new species for the year bringing my tally of species so far this year to 33.