We finally got some warm, sunny weather for a few days towards the end of the month which helped bring out a few butterflies in what has been a terrible season for them.
I've been spending quite a lot of time over the last couple of months preparing a huge update for the Lepidoptera gallery and noticed, to my surprise, that I didn't have any decent pictures of Small Tortoiseshell! As soon as the sun came out I made sure I added this common species to my portfolio after finding a few pristine individuals feeding on Creeping Thistle flowers while I was up in the Lake District for a weekend trip.
Marbled Whites were out in force down at Barnack and were easy to photograph while they were busy feeding on the Knapweed flowers.
The reason for going down to Barnack, however, was to photograph the much more locally-distributed Chalkhill Blue. They didn't disappoint!
Chalkhill Blue is only found on chalk and limestone grasslands in the south of England, with Barnack being one of the most northerly colonies surviving in Britain.
Barnack is also home to a range of scarce plants including large numbers of Pyramidal Orchids.
Nearby at Woodwalton Fen I spent a very hot day photographing dragonflies.
Ruddy Darters were common although, with the very warm conditions, it was difficult to get close enough to get decent photos with the 100mm macro but persistance paid off...
When the air temperature gets hot (very rare in Britain!) dragonflies prevent themselves from over-heating by pointing their abdomens directly at the sun so that they are presenting the minimum surface area to direct sunlight.
Up in the lake district, the weather was much cooler and getting to within the minimum focusing distance of the 100mm lens was pretty easy in the early morning as the Common Darters were basking in the sun, attempting to get their body temperature high enough for sustained flight.
I didn't go walking up any of the high peaks while I was up in the Lakes due to still struggling with Achilles tendinopathy in both ankles. Encouragingly, they are slowy getting better and I was at least feeling strong enough to have a gentle walk up to Black Crag on a very windy afternoon and had some nice views over the valley.
Volucella inanis is a large and distinctive hoverfly which has been increasing its range northwards from its southern strongholds since the beginning of the 21st century.
The weather throughout most of July continued with mostly the same cool, wet conditions we had in June, so opportunities to put out the moth trap were pretty limited except for the last week when we had the brief spell of decent weather.
I made the most of the nice weather while it lasted and the numbers of moths attracted to my garden improved spectacularly, peaking on the 24th when I caught about 80 species.
The largest and most spectacular moth that visited my garden during July was a Lime Hawkmoth.
White Satin Moths are fairly common in my garden with usually at least one individual being trapped every time I put the light out in July.
Beautiful Plume was the most colourful of the 4 species of plume moth I photographed in July.
By far the most common moth attracted to the light trap in July was the Uncertain with over 40 individuals being caught on warm nights.
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