Midsummer’s Day is usually the first day I begin to notice painted lady butterflies in our Dorset garden. They have probably been around for a few days before then without my noticing them. So when I actually start to look out for them to test the robustness of my ‘Midsummer’s Day’ theory for the ‘first’ ones, I am in fact working with a flawed self-fulfilling hypothesis. It worked again this year, as usual… And as so often these days I only had an iPh@ne with me to record the success, with unspectacular but tolerable results.


I was hoping to get an underwing shot, but no luck. So I have plundered Wiki to get one

Painted Lady Butterfly underwings (wiki)

All photo except the last, RH with an iPhone



There’s a time and place for resorting to an iPhone for close shots. The time is when your camera is not handy – possibly 3 or 4 counties away; the place is where you are right now, when an orange tip – so often a skittish species – decides to choose a plant to land on and to stay there for a while.Orange Tip Butterfly, Dorset 3

The technique for getting reasonably sharp pictures with an iPhone is this: take 20 – 30 rapid shots of the subject, holding the phone at varying distances from it until you get too close and the creature flies away. This specialist process is necessary because it is impossible to be sure what the camera has actually focused on and what the optimum distance for the shot actually is. This may be a question of distance, angle or lighting – or any combination. These were the best of them – but I also got some great detailed shots of the flowers and their stems, with the butterfly a smear of orange and white.

Orange Tip Butterfly, Dorset 4

These images are never going to make the grade in the aggressively contested photograph section of the village art and craft show (unless there’s a special iPhone group, perhaps). But they are better than I was expecting, with reasonably sharp ‘buds’, as I think the blobs on the end of the feelers are called. That’s the first thing I look at when deleting butterfly photos…
Orange Tip Butterfly, Dorset 1


These exceptionally pretty little butterflies were prolific in the garden in late July and early August. However an autumnal chill arrived around the 18th. A few remained, but I saw only one or two last week. 

Common Blue Butterfly, Dorset 1Common Blue Butterfly, Dorset 2 Common Blue Butterfly, Dorset 3 Common Blue Butterfly, Dorset 4 Common Blue Butterfly, Dorset 5 Common Blue Butterfly, Dorset 6


Two skippers taken recently in Dorset, before the rains came. Then, as the rain has poured over the garden, so I have pored over my ‘Dummy’s Guide to Lepidoptera’ to work out what type of skipper this is. Or should I say, ‘these are’, because although the photos are not particularly good, these two creatures look different to me. But that could just be the angle of the “sun”, whatever that was.  Any hints from those kind enough to glance at this woefully under-curated ‘side-project’ blog would be welcome!

STOP PRESS Mike Kelly has been kind enough to leave this comment about these two skipper species:  the first one  “…COULD be Essex Skipper, the antenna tips are not clear enough to be certain. The 3 below are Small Skipper”.

Skipper Butterfly, Dorset Skipper Butterfly, Dorset Skipper Butterfly, Dorset

The same type of skipper? Or another, maybe? [PS A Small Skipper – see above]

Skipper Butterfly, DorsetSkipper Butterfly, Dorset Skipper Butterfly, Dorset


Large white butterfly, Dorset Large white butterfly, Dorset Large white butterfly, Dorset Large white butterfly, Dorset Large white butterfly, DorsetGreen-veined white butterfly, DorsetGreen-veined white butterfly, Dorset


It’s high summer in the garden. That means beans. Beans does not mean Heinz in garden terms. Beans means butterflies, in this case a brimstone feeding on the bright fiery runner bean flowers. This female is a pale greeny yellow; males are a more striking bright yellow.

Brimstone Butterfly on Runner Bean Flowers, Dorset Brimstone Butterfly on Runner Bean Flowers, Dorset Brimstone Butterfly on Runner Bean Flowers, DorsetBrimstone Butterfly on Runner Bean Flowers, DorsetBrimstone Butterfly on Runner Bean Flowers, Dorset


This is the first Gatekeeper I have seen this year. We have had an unusually prolific season for meadow browns over the last few weeks, which in ‘closed wing’ position I find easy to confuse with gatekeepers, unless I can see the wing spots clearly. But this one was obligingly drying its wings – they are very undamaged so I assume it is a very recent arrival (in butterfly form, anyway), maybe even today. Gatekeeper Butterfly, Dorset

Now I’ve seen the first, I’m hoping to see them everywhere…Gatekeeper Butterfly, Dorset 11b Gatekeeper Butterfly, Dorset 5 Gatekeeper Butterfly, Dorset 1


A collection of seagulls of various ages strutting their stuff on the beach at West Bay, Dorset

Gulls West Bay Beach 1 Gulls West Bay Beach 2 Gulls West Bay Beach 4 Gulls West Bay Beach 5 Gulls West Bay Beach 6 Gulls West Bay Beach 7 Gulls West Bay Beach 8 Gulls West Bay Beach 9 Gulls West Bay Beach 10


Meadow Brown Butterfly, Dorset Meadow Brown Butterfly, Dorset 1 Meadow Brown Butterfly, Dorset 2 Meadow Brown Butterfly, Dorset 4 Meadow Brown Butterfly, Dorset 5 Meadow Brown Butterfly, Dorset 6


The Gatekeeper is (yet) another butterfly species that I have photographed this year for the first time in our garden in Dorset. There are several possible reasons for this: I haven’t bothered to notice them before; I have noticed them, but confused them with the similar meadow browns I do recognise; I have become more observant and butterfly-aware since we restored the garden and planted a lot of bee / butterfly / moth attractant plants; the species is in fact new to the garden, perhaps for the previous reason. Anyway, whichever is right, they suddenly arrived in the garden / I finally recognised this ‘new’ species in early August. Here are some.

THE FIRST GATEKEEPER I NOTICED THIS YEAR Gatekeeper Butterfly, Dorset (1st of the year)

SUBSEQUENT SIGHTINGS Gatekeeper Butterfly, Dorset Gatekeeper Butterfly, Dorset 1 Gatekeeper Butterfly, Dorset 2 Gatekeeper Butterfly, Dorset 3 Gatekeeper Butterfly, Dorset 4 Gatekeeper Butterfly, Dorset 5 Gatekeeper Butterfly, Dorset 6 Gatekeeper Butterfly, Dorset 8 Gatekeeper Butterfly, Dorset 9 Gatekeeper Butterfly, Dorset 10b Gatekeeper Butterfly, Dorset 11b Gatekeeper Butterfly, Dorset 12 Gatekeeper Butterfly, Dorset 12a