A week ago I was going thru my photo-archive. I wasn’t searching for anything special but simply browsing through it looking back at what I’ve been doing the last couple of years. As I wrote last week it brought back many good memories, but it also showed very clearly that some subjects I photographed for just a limited amount of time, and for some reason was never interested in to retrace. Some places I photographed very extensively for a limited period…but never felt the urge to go back to them.
I guess that’s nothing special - I think that applies to just about everybody.
But for some reason there are a couple of subjects that makes just about every nature photographer’s heart beat fast..pumps up the adrenaline…and that certainly is the case with the Orange-tip butterfly for me. I think it’s one of the ultimate signs that Spring has finally arrived and each and every year I’m looking forward to seeing/photographing them.
This morning I was driving around Polder de Dordtse Biesbosch together with my brother Frank, and we were both searching for the first Cuckoo-flower. I guess we both knew that it was still a bit too early in the season, but with the warmer weather coming up it certainly won’t take long anymore.
And once the Cuckoo-flowers appear…the Orange-tips will follow soon after.
The picture above was taken almost 11 years ago. On the 3rd of May 2008 to be exact. The peak of the Orange-tip season used to be around that period in the past(end of April/beginning of May). With the climate changing that period is quickly moving a couple of weeks forward. Will 2019 be the first year I spot Orange-tips in March already ?
Text and poto are copyright protected by Gerard Jordan
This morning I visited the cuckoo flower area again as I'm still dreaming of a certain photo....and no.....it's not the one below unfortunately. First because the flowers are almost finished and second the sun did not rise red on the horizon due to some buildings far away. By the time the sun was high enough to climb over the buildings the light was too hard.
But, I will not complain as I need something to desire for 2019 and there are enough other beauties to photograph right now.
For weeks, even months I was longing for spring and suddenly it was summer and within a week nature has changed completely. On Thursday evening I checked an area nearby and found out that the majority of the Cuckoo flowers are on their return and instead of Orange-tips I found eggs.
On Friday morning the weather was ideal (no wind at all) photographing butterfly eggs (with the MP-E 65mm) on their larval food plants. On the small fresh buckthorns leaves I found eggs of the Brimstone.
The interesting thing was that three females must passed this buckthorn bush and they all liked the same leaves/places as I found three eggs under the same leaves.
It's obviously that with this crazy high temperatures a lot of butterfly species came to live. On Wednesday evening I found two male Orange-tips near a small lake but after I installed my tripod one flew away....it was too warm! This morning I tried a 'new' area which, I guessed so, has a favourable rising-sun situation. The majority of the cuckoo flowers were still green and I only found one Orange-tip. But, I will not complain as one is enough; the only disappointing thing is the amount of dog owners who also like this area.
The Orange-tip is probably one of the most photographed butterfly species in the Netherlands as they are very easy to find in rest on one of their larval foodplants. Next to it the Orange-tip is one of the first butterflies after the winter season and although I have a lot of photos of this species, I can not withstand the desire to search for them.
Last year I said goodbye to 'my' area which I visited for almost 20 years as too many people were asking what I was doing. I found a new area with a lot of Cuckoo flowers and Orange-tips near water where I can use the colours and reflections in the water of the setting sun.
What a fantastic and energizing weather today! The thermometer showed almost 24 degrees and the amount of butterflies was amazing! An egg lying Comma-Butterfly, a lot of Brimstones, Green-veined Whites, Small Whites, Speckled Woods, Holly Blues and a fresh Map Butterfly. But, my day started with a female Orange-tip before sunrise and after sunrise I waited a long, a very long time before she opened her wings. But, I wanted her with open wings as I have too much images of this species with closed wings. When she finally opened her wings I created some shadow over her and fortunately she did not fly away immediately.
Like three years ago they are early again....the Orange-tips. On March 30th I saw the first ones during a one day trip to France. This male I found last Sunday April 2nd when I visted the area 'de Mortelen' together with two friends. The original mission were Wood Anemones but we couldn't resist a field with Cuckoo flowers and after we found two male Orange-tips we skipped our mission. Due to the fog the sun was blurry and she needed her time to break through. By the time the fog was gone we found a perfect terrace to enjoy the sun, the cappuccino and the passing butterflies.
If there is one butterfly species which I do not need to photograph anymore, it is the Orange-tip. Every year I have the intention to skip this species but the desire to 'catch' this harbinger of spring is that big that I can not resist the temptation, even the fact that the area is now surrounded by barbed wire (which cost me a trouser and caused an ugly injury in my hand) can not stop me!
The first morning I stepped into their world, the complete area was frozen and covered under a white layer of ice crystals including Orange-tips. After a beautiful sunrise I visited a female butterfly which was covered with ice crystals and while I was busy with finding the right composition/detail as the cuckoo flower was curved due to the cold, I noticed the first egg.
The second morning I was very happy that again the sun was cooperative and with a good feeling and a full memory card I continued my way to work.
I think the Orange-tip and I have a special relationship, a kind of neverending love so probably I will find soon caterpillars in my garden on Annual Honesty and the circle of life will start again. The only thing I will change in 2017 is the area as too many people were asking what I was doing......
Last Thursday I saw the first Orange-tips of 2016. Three male butterflies were flying around the Cuckoo flower area which I visited after work. My plans to return after dinner vanished when I saw dark clouds coming and instead of a beautiful sunset it was raining cats and dogs. Since then we have wind force 3 or 4 so I did not return to the Cuckoo flower area. Today I noticed that the colour of the chrysalis (last year I found (only) one caterpillar of the Orange-tip in my garden) had changed and while I was looking at the chrysalis it was moving a little bit. As quickly as possible I took my tripod and camera and there she came.....
The complete emerging sequence (number 6) is published under Metamorphosis -> Orange-tip.
11 Months ago I found on my Annual Honnesty (Lunaria annua) a tiny little caterpillar of the Orange-tip. Annual Honnesty is their favorite foodplant next to Garlic Mustard; both plants are growing everywhere in my garden so I'm finding almost every year caterpillars.
10 Months ago this caterpillar was at least twice the size and transformed into a chrysalis and hibernated outside in my garden until a few days ago:
A female Orange-tip was born and it is interesting to see how the butterfly unfold the soft wings. The drying proces of the wings takes more than one hour but once she was ready, she flew away.....I hope to find the next generation in a few weeks on the Annual Honesty!
On metamorphosis -> Orange-tip you can find the complete sequence.
Jibt dir dit Leben mal een Buff, denn weene keene Träne. Lach Dir'n Ast und setz Dir druff und baumle mit de Beene.