I have always been passionate about wildlife and conservation and when not photographing people I can often be found out in the countryside and on nature reserves. Though we have of course lost species, we are lucky to still have such a diversity of birds, butterflies and insects in the British countryside. Many species are still under threat, but it is heartening to have met so many like minded people when out and about photographing the natural world.

You can contact me on 07866 316577 or via e-mail at info@mauricephotos.co.uk


Some wildlife links:
Michael Flowers birdwatching classes and walks
Yorkshire Butterfly Conservation
Yorkshire Dragonflies
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Yorkshire Nature Triangle
Yorkshire Mammal Group
East Yorkshire Birding Forum
Tophill Low Nature Reserve
Yorkshire Red Kites
North Cave Wetlands Nature Reserve
The Wild Bird Cafe - North Cave Wetlands
Paull Holme Strays sightings
Potteric Carr Nature Reserve
Hull Valley Wildlife Group
Spurn Bird Observatory
Mike Robinson Bird Photos
Vince Cowell Photography
Steve Mulligan Bird Photography
David Ware - Wolds Birding
Paul Ashton East Yorkshire Wildlife
Wold Ranger
Beetle Boy's Bio Blog
Rory Selvey (age 13) Wildlife Photography
Kill the Badger Cull
The Brown Hairstreak Blog
Africa Gomez Bugblog
Zilch - eliminating litter
Keep Britain Tidy

Next Photo Event dates to be announced...

Saturday, 31 August 2013

False Ilex and Purple Hairstreak


Above the view down on to Céret from one of the tracks up in the Pyrénées-Orientales region.  Not as tall as the Haute Pyrénées I found travelling a long way up at this time of year didn't seem to make too much difference to the butterfly species I encountered - apart from tantalising glimpses of Camberwell Beauties. Plus many drivers seem to hurtle down the mountains on the wrong side of the already narrow roads! It wasn't a dedicated wildlife holiday, so I just winged it exploring a few different areas. I admit I did no research whatsoever hoping to see whatever I could see. The complete lack of birds was a bit of a surprise though even bearing in mind July and August are the quieter months of the year. There are masses of invertebrates as a food source and the display of Raptors above the motorways is very impressive. Next time we travel in Europe I may do some planning first!

The False Ilex Hairstreaks are very common everywhere up in the mountains. In this part of France in August I am pretty sure my sightings are False Ilex Hairstreak (Satyrium esculi) and not the very similar Ilex Hairstreak (Satyrium ilicis). These butterflies are very docile not seeming to want to fly much. I wasn't necessarily expecting Purple Hairstreak particularly as I encountered them very low to the ground in good numbers, possibly escaping the heat? They were in the location pictured above. In the UK sightings are usually high up in Oak and Ash trees. The Purple Hairstreak larval food plant is Oak and the large Oaks you see in the UK are absent. There are clearly different mediterranean Oak species the Purple Hairstreaks can use. The presence of  Oak Yellow Underwing moths in the area would rather seem to confirm this not too hard to arrive at conclusion! :)  The next time I visited the same location the Purple Hairstreaks were much higher up and it was only the one day they were low down and easy to see.

 False Ilex next five images




 Showing how docile they are, a butterfly I picked up on a rock by a stream

Purple Hairstreaks below




Is it Oak? Looks a bit like Oak!

 Oak Yellow Underwing moth

Below a slightly unusual low down sighting I had of a female Purple Hairstreak up on the North Yorkshire moors a few years ago showing a flash of colour

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Some French Whites, Browns and Yellows

Bath White



Above the Bath White (Pontia daplidice) seemed quite common in the south of France in August. It has several broods with peak numbers in September apparently. It gets its English name from being sighted near Bath at some time in the past, a similar story to the Camberwell Beauty. Have either been seen in sarf London or the west country since?

Below is Cleopatra (Gonepteryx cleopatra) obviously very similar to our Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) which also flies in France. The male Cleopatra is easily distinguished in flight by the orange patches on the forewing.




Speckled Wood butterflies in the UK tend to be brown and cream (Pararge tircis). I noticed a couple of years ago that those in northern France were slightly more orange. The Speckled Woods in the south however are really orange, the form Pararge aegeria. At first you think you are seeing Heath Fritillaries they are so orange. The behaviour is the same as their northern browner cousins, constantly defending their sunny patches!


I will put a Wall in as well (Lasiommata megera), they also seemed more orange than our UK yellowy ones. I was hoping for Large Wall (Lasiommata maera) but had no luck.

I probably saw quite a lot of Wood White as they too are quite common. However, it is difficult to identify the whites unless they come to a stop and in the heat they are very active. This looks like a male of the "standard" form Leptidea sinapis. Second brood males have hardly any grey scales and white antennal spots. Females have brown antennal spots as does the Eastern Wood White (Leptidea duponcheli) which also has more grey scaling. Then there is Real's Wood White (Leptidea reali) if you fancy examining the genitalia!!


Now we come to the humble Gatekeeper. Again very common in the south of France whilst I was there July into August. Now I definitely didn't see the Spanish Gatekeeper (Pyronia Bathseba) which is significantly different, but I think I have underside shots of our regular Pyronia tithonus and also the Southern Gatekeeper (Pyronia cecilia). Both types were flying together in good numbers on my local scrubby patch of land in Céret. 

 Looks to me like our tithonus showing small white ocelli spots and no clear discal line... french-gatekeeper_DSC5169

...and cynthia here with no ocelli on the hind wing and a clear discal separation line french-gatekeeper_DSC5163  

I'm going for cynthia again as there is no sign of any ocelli showing through and the colour is bright orange. Wish I had paid more attention to them now instead of thinking here we go more bloomin' Gatekeepers! Live and learn :) Maybe I should have paid some attention to the Meadow Browns as well? Hmmmm...

Finally Clouded Yellow. Quite a few around but not in great condition. The one directly below could be the "standard" Colias crocea, could be Berger's Clouded Yellow (Colias alfacariensis) or even Pale Clouded Yellow (Colias hyale) I can't say for certain. The photo at the bottom is a Clouded Yellow I saw at North Cave Wetlands on my return, in much better condition. Unfortunately I only had my phone to photograph it so the colours may be a bit off! If anyone reads this and knows what the pink flowers are that many of the French butterflies are nectaring on could you let me know? Looks like Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis) but there was often a strong scent of mint whenever I found a decent patch of wild flowers. 


mobile phone pic ncw-cloudedyellow0119crop

Sunday, 25 August 2013



There are several species of Cicada in France I believe and I'm not sure which these are.  They seemed to get harder to see the further south we went though the background noise was constant. There must be billions of the insects as you can travel 100's of miles on the motorway with the window open and the Cicada background static never ceases!




Saturday, 24 August 2013

Geranium Bronze (Cacyreus marshalli)

A tiny butterfly I was hoping to see in the south of France, it is actually a South African species which it is thought was first accidentally imported on Pelargoniums.  I didn't notice any in the first few days as sometimes they don't move much, but once I got my eye in there were butterflies on many of the cultivated plants in Céret town centreThe males are tiny only around 1cm and the females identical but nearly twice the size. Males are pictured here. The Geranium Bronze is gradually spreading its range further northwards. 



Thursday, 22 August 2013

French Shield Bugs

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Why not add a touch of colour to your French holiday with these glamorous shield bugs? Carpocoris Mediterraneus available in sunny orange or purple and Graphosoma Lineatum in striking red and black stripes with a polka dot belly.

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 mating pair
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Why not also try Lygaeus Equestris? He have big 'um grumpy face!
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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius)

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The Scarce Swallowtail seems to derive its English name from the fact that it is rare in England, turning up only occasionally on the south coast. In the south of France on the other hand, this is one of the commonest butterflies you will see. They are constantly flying past you both in town and countryside. The only challenge is finding some wild flowers where they will actually stop and nectar. I saw a couple of regular papilio machaon (gorganus not brittanicus) on the wing but podalirius by far the most common species. Still an impressive sight!

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I know it is an invertebrate but the Scarce Swallowtail seems to have a very long and flexible "neck" or thorax I suppose which it can bend to help get the proboscis into the flowers.
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