One of the delights of pursuing butterflies is the way that different species come and go as the great wheel of summer turns. As I mentioned in an earlier post, there are five different species of hairstreaks in Britain and Ireland, each named after their vaguely predominant colour. The last of the hairstreaks to appear, peaking in the middle fortnight of August, is the Brown Hairstreak. In fact orange or gold might be a more appropriate epithet for these beautiful insects, certainly the most attractive and quite possibly the laziest of this enigmatic band of butterflies (the name comes from the faint while lines on their underwing). Both sexes spent almost their entire adult lives resting invisible at the tops of tall trees, feasting on honeydew and keeping themselves strictly to themsleves.
Recently we returned to Steyning in West Sussex to have another crack at filming Brown Hairstreaks using the new macro lens on our HD camera. Guess who we bumped into... yes of course, none other than Butterfly-meister Neil Hulme from the Sussex branch of Butterfly Conservation. It was Neil who first guided us to film Brown Hairstreak in 2008. He has not lost his touch. Within an hour he had located a female BH in fine fettle. She had descended heavily pregnant from the inaccessible treetops to flit among the blackthorn bushes at human level, laying the occasional egg. We were able to keep up with her for the best part of an hour, adding some wonderful footage that will be incorporated in our forthcoming butterfly video guide.
That is a project that will keep me busy in the cutting room this autumn. I'd like to have it ready in time for Christmas. The format will be similar to our 16-hour long Video Guide to British Birds. The running time will be shorter of course (61 as opposed to 270 species) but there is now a huge amount of gorgeous material to edit down and write commentaries for.