17 May 2009

Hanging on for dear life

I was able to photograph a butterfly yesterday morning. I took at least a dozen pictures of it, hoping one would be in focus. Maybe you are already aware that taking decent photos of animals — even domesticated animals, like Callie — requires a lot of patience and no small amount of luck.

Here's a movie showing you what I had to deal with. It wasn't raining (surprise, surprise), but it was blowing a gale. As Walt said when he saw the movie, the butterfly seems to be holding on for dear life. It must have known that the gusts could tear its pretty little wings off.

Callie, please don't eat the daisy, or the butterfly!

The easiest subjects in the animal kingdom to photograph are, without much doubt, snails and slugs. I guess clams and barnacles would fit into that category too, except they are in the ocean or bay and you might have to get your feet wet. Of course, here in Saint-Aignan I'm getting used to having wet feet anyway. Never mind. The point is that mollusks are slow-moving, in general.

Some insects — the kind that don't fly — are also not too hard to capture on ... well, I was going to say film, but those days seem to be over. To capture on a flash memory card, I guess I mean. Bugs that fly away just at the crucial moment are the most frustrating. Birds behave the same way, but they won't even let you get close to them before they take to the air.

Butterfly in the vineyard, 16 May 2009

Anyway, these little digital cameras are amazing. Above is the best photo I managed to get. The other 10 or 11 weren't bad either, with some being fuzzier than others. I took them all from the same angle, so there's not need to post more than one.

Now I'll wait for somebody who knows to tell me what kind of butterfly it is.


  1. That is a beautiful butterfly. I'd say it was well worth the effort, but I didn't make the effort so it's hard to be reasonable. I have no idea what sort it is, sorry.

  2. Hi Ken,

    Thank you for another great picture to add to my personal slide show entitled "The Beautiful World of Ken & Walt" (or , as told to Walt, "...of Walt & Ken"). I enlarge and edit them for my 1440 * 900 screen so some are not suitable, but they are all appreciated. Once in a while I go fishing through past blog entries for more so I have a nice collection.

    Thanks again,

  3. That was some wind! Your picture turned out well- I enjoyed the little movie a lot, I thought I was in France for a minute or two.

    I don't know the name of that butterfly. Our cat brought several butterflies in through our pet door this Spring, but lately it's been voles and chipmunks. We stay busy catching critters these days.

  4. Butterfly roller coaster ride!

  5. Wowser, cool little video. The picture you ended up with is great, though.


  6. The vid's amusing :-) The butterfly is a Glanville Fritillary Melitaea cinxia (la Mélitée du plantain in French). The English name is in honour of 17th C amateur entomologist Lady Glanville. Her children thought her interest in butterflies was evidence of madness, and tried to have the conditions of her will changed on grounds of insanity after she died. This species is Britain's rarest Fritillary, but it is common in our départements (37 & 41) in France.

  7. Thanks Susan, I was counting on you. I went back out in the vineyard this afternoon but I didn't go to see whether the papillon was still scotché to that flower.

  8. Ken you were probably lucky the conditions were preventing it from flying. Fritillaries are fiendishly difficult to photograph as they are so fidgety and active, and particularly difficult to get so that they are showing the side you need to ID them. (In this case, underside is best, so ID was relatively easy.)


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