Five species of Hairstreak butterflies can be seen in Britain. Usefully they all have colours in their names, so they are relatively easy to remember: Brown, Purple, White-letter, Black and Green. Last year we successfully filmed the first four Hairstreaks, but managed only a few brief shots of the fifth. So we were particularly delighted to catch up recently with this gentleman and his friends.
Green Hairstreaks are annoyingly difficult to see well... let alone photograph. The general Hairstreak philosophy is to is perch invisibly pretending to be a leaf high up in a dense hawthorn, blackthorn or (in the case of Purple Hairstreak) oak trees. Being predominantly green and brown, Green Hairstreaks are rather good at this.
From time to time, generally when you are looking the other way, they may take off for a brief sortie. If you are lucky, they will be noticed by a neighboring male and a dogfight will ensue. Tracking the spiraling flight of the combatants and hopefully following one of them back to its perch may – with patience and good fortune – allow you to creep up and shoot the beast.
Anyway, many thanks to Lee Evans for guiding us to these particular Green Hairstreaks, rather late in their flight season. Although best known as a birder, Lee is also a keen lepidopterist. His directions were customarily exact: we turned up at the specified bush in Bedfordshire and there were the butterflies.