Painted Lady beside the South Drain, on Shapwick Heath, south of Westhay, on the Somerset Levels; 26 Oct 2009.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 800 ISO.

An absolutely beautiful and highly informative book which I recommend to anyone interested in butterflies and/or wildlife art is The Butterflies of Britain & Ireland, by Jeremy Thomas (a butterfly specialist) and Richard Lewington ( a very skilled artist); 1991; ISBN 0-86318-591-6 – highly recommended.  From this book I learn that this species is probably not permanently resident in any part of Europe, because it does not hibernate and  its caterpillars perish at any temperature below 5 degrees C.  Instead, the Painted Ladies that we often see in parks and gardens and in the countryside have probably bred around desert edges in Africa and Arabia, and then moved north up into Europe in huge numbers – something which I find impressive.


And finally – some keywords that will often be mentioned in this archive series:

Droves:  to avoid crossing other peoples’ land when accessing their own, the farmers constructed a series of tracks, known as droves, between the fields. Some of these droves are now metalled roads and many persist as open tracks – all of which allow wonderfully open access to this countryside.

Rhynes: the fields are bounded by water-filled ditches – which both drain the ground and act as stock barriers. Hence strange landscapes – where fields appear quite unbounded, except for a gate with a short length of fencing on either side of it, where a bridge crosses the water-filled boundary ditch to provide access the field.  These small wet ditches communicate with larger rhynes (“reen” as in Doreen), which in turn flow into larger drains, e.g. the North and South Drains in the Brue Valley. All of these waterways are manmade and, by intricate series of pumping stations and flood gates, all of them have their water levels controlled by local farmers, internal drainage boards or the Environment Agency.

Pollarded Willows: the banks of the rhynes were often planted with Willow trees, both to help strengthen the banks and also to show the courses of roads and tracks during floods. These Willows are often pollarded, i.e. their upper branches are cut off, which results in distinctively broad and dense heads to the trees. Pollarding keeps trees to a required height, while ensuring a steady supply of wood – more important in the past than now – for fires, thatching spars, fencing and so on.

About Adrian Lewis
Photographer - using mono, colour and combinations of the two - many types of subject, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous, trying new ideas, working in multiple genres. And I've a weakness for Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.


  1. bluebrightly says:

    Beautiful photo, Adrian. You prompted me to check on our Painted Ladies. I knew our Monarch butterflies migrated but I didn’t know that our Painted Ladies do, too – apparently it takes several generations. One source says their migration is not necessarily tied to seasonality but may be a reaction to patterns like El Nino. Life is complex! 😉


    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Thank you, Lynn 🙂 I love butterflies, for me they’re right up there with cats! But I’m sure there are fewer butterflies around now than when I was a boy, 60 years ago, which is a very sad thing.

      Liked by 1 person

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