Saturday, 28 August 2010

Flutters in Disguise.

The dancing unhurried flight of the Gatekeeper with its striking orange-brown colour and pattern is easy to spot. Like many species when at rest with wings closed its underside pattern presents a totally different view but is still fairly easy to pick out against its usual background of bramble leaves or ragwort flower heads.

Many other species have more cryptic underwing camouflage so I thought I would share a few with you.
Probably the most widespread of our butterflies is the Meadow Brown, distinguished by the single eye spot on each forewing. The male is almost totally brown whereas the females show much more orange. However, at rest with wings closed, the underside pattern often provides a good match with its surroundings, especially dried grasses and leaves, an excellent defence against its predators.
When fresh the Ringlet has dark velvety wings with a distinctive white border. This soon fades and they can look like male Meadow Browns but without any trace of orange although the eye-spots are usually visible in flight. However when it flops to the ground the underside spots are clearly visible but often only when you get down to their level for a closer look.
The Speckled Wood prefers dappled woodland glades and has a greater tolerance for shady places. When basking in the sun the upper wing pattern is usually fairly easy to spot against its background perch. However when resting with the wings closed its underwing patterns can provide excellent camouflage especially against the leaf litter.
The best example of cryptic camouflage is the Grayling, often only encountered when disturbed as you walk by. Its flight pattern is a series of bobbing and gliding and then dropping quickly to the ground where it disappears from view. At rest it tilts itself towards or faces the sun to regulate its temperature but also to significantly reduce any shadow it may cast. The underwing colour can vary according to the surrounding soil type (chalky to almost black) and with its more prominent upper wing patterns fully enclosed it blends in perfectly with its background.

Have a good weekend wherever you are and whatever you are doing.   FAB.


  1. These are wonderful! You have so many interesting butterflies over there that we never see in the least I never see them if they are here :-) Thanks for stopping by my blog. I've been to yours before and know what great photos you take.

  2. Lovely flutters, Frank. I can't even pick a favorite!

  3. Thanks for sharing. Good title!

  4. Great captures and very informative. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Each and every one has a beauty all it's own! ~karen

  6. superb pictures Frank and just shows the fantastic variety and what appear at first to be similar butterflies. Graylings are one of my favourites.

  7. Great series of "Flutters" !! Your posts are so informative, with lots of good photos to back them up! Nice camera work, Frank. And who would have thought that they'd be smart enough to position themselves so as not to cast a shadow! Wow.

  8. Hi Frank.. What great disguse there is in nature to protect itself!!
    The Meadow Brown does a great job of it!!
    If you was not looking for them you probably would never see them!!
    I really like the Speckled Wood picture with the wings spread even if she is not in disguise!!

  9. Great post Frank, and shows the camouflage of each one well.
    No wonder I've never seen a Grayling lol

  10. It truly is remarkable how the Creator made these wonderful creatures to blend in so well with nature. It is all so very special when we make a find that we could have so easily missed. I too got some images of a butterfly yesterday and for a moment thought it was just a hanging leaf. Cheers Frank~

  11. magnificent flutter. Getting butterfly shots, for me is almost impossible. It is such a treat to see these.

  12. Thanks for sharing the interesting information, I have learned a lot!

  13. Very pretty. Thank you for sharing your very time consuming, excellent work.

  14. These are unlike the butterflies I've been seeing in our backyard. I especially enjoyed the information you provided on each species, Frank. I'm learning a lot more about nature's beauties here.

    Hope that your brother is resting comnfortably.

  15. Wow wonderful Frank. Next time I have a ID porblem, I'll contact you ;-) Superb set!

  16. Fine camera workmanship,fantastic collection.
    well done Frank.

  17. Great set Frank showing details that are so easily overlooked.

  18. Hello Frank. Sorry I've not dropped by for a while. You have some lovely images, especially the Doe & Fawn. Fab!

  19. I love this post Frank. Subtle is so often beautiful when you take a closer look! Hope you've had a good weekend!

  20. The speckled wood is my favorite - such texture! Great photos!

  21. Hi Mary. Thanks for dropping by again. I'm sure you have far more many varieties in the US, although I am aware that some are very similar.

    Hi Wilma. Cheers. They are ALL my favorites.

    Hi dreamfalcon. Thanks for the visit and kind comment.

    Hi John. Thanks very much.

  22. Hi KaHolly. Thank Karen, they are all worthy of the lens.

    Hi Matt. The Grayling was a surprise find ... hoping for some more time with this one sometime.

    Hi Mona. Yes, they may be tiny but they still have a brain!

    Hi Grammie. I agree, sometimes you just don't know how many we miss seeing.

    Hi Keith. The Grayling is not particularly widespread so have to seek that one out.

  23. Hi Mary (HC). I agree nature is amazing. I'll drop by and check out your flutter pics as soon as I can.

    Hi Joanna. Glad to oblige. The trick is not to get too close so I use the 70-300 zoom most of the time. Please keep trying.. you will succeed.

    Hi Friend of HK. Thank you.

    Hi Amila. Clever, aren't they!

    Hi Lois. Time consuming ... a little bit but it's fun to be able to share my experiences.

  24. Hi Beatrice. I'm delighted that I could teach you something!
    BTW PJB has been moved but is still in his resting state.

    Hi Chris. I'm no expert but you are always welcome to ask.

    Hi JRandSue. Thanks John, but can't compete with the 'macro master'.

    Hi Kerri. Thank you.

    Hi Monty. Cheers my friend.

    Hi Angie. No problem just glad you find time to drop by now and again. Cheers.

    Hi Jenny. Most things are worth a second look as you never know what you may be missing.

    Hi Shelley. Not our most colourful flutter but has a distinctive pattern.

  25. Great butterfly photos! Some of them look very similar to species we have over here but with the markings in different places.


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