Butterfly Dreams

Hello. My name is Pete Smith. I am a butterfly-obsessed lover of the natural world, with a particular interest in European Butterflies and British Hairstreaks. I enjoy travelling to photograph my subject matter, and also sometimes conduct my own research into the ecology and life-cycles of certain species. I occasionally meander into the world of moths.

Butterflies first caught my attention at a very early age. My mother tells a story of how, as a three year old, I was completely captivated by a Red Admiral that landed on my T-shirt in a local park one summer. She believes this episode started my life-long obsession. This may be true. By the age of seven I was a butterfly addict. But living in the suburbs of North London, there wasn't that much to be seen locally. My interest was kindled further on annual family holidays to the Isle of Wight, where wonderful species such as Marbled White and Chalkhill Blue flew in abundance on the chalk downs.

At the age of ten I was given a book on European Butterflies as a birthday present. Its pages were full of exotic creatures, and I recall being in awe of the beauty of such beasts as Violet Coppers, Apollos, Poplar Admirals, and Scarce Swallowtails, to name but a few. As a ten year old I could only dream that I would live to see such treasures for myself in real life one day...

Apart from a couple of family holidays to France as a teenager, I didn't travel outside of the UK until I was in my thirties. I was thirty-seven years old when I first flew in an aeroplane. But since then I have more than made up for my earlier lack of travel, and visited many parts of France, Spain, Greece, and also the Canary Islands. Many of those seemingly unattainable butterfly species that I coveted as a ten year old, from the pages of my childhood book, I have now had the pleasure of seeing in the flesh. Sometimes dreams really do come true!

More recently, I finally got to venture outside of Europe for the first time back in 2018, visiting the Guanacaste province in the north-west of Costa Rica. Here were butterflies flying in tropical forests and grasslands, not just the sort of species that you might find in a butterfly house, but also many that you wouldn't, such as the tropical Skippers and Hairstreaks. Seeing these gorgeous insects in their wild habitat in central America was a real eye-opener. Here was a whole new world! It impressed me deeply, and a return visit in 2019 gave me a further opportunity to experience the climate, culture and fabulous wildlife of this part of central America. 

These pages contain a selection of very personal memories. Every image captures a magical moment enjoyed in what is left of the wild places of our planet, where other forms of life share our biosphere and interact with us, themselves, and the environment.

Taking these photographs has drawn me to the high altitudes of alpine meadows, to lowland bogs and marshes, to heathlands, great forests, moors and coasts. They are a collection of my own favourites. If they bring to others just the tiniest fraction of the pleasure that they have given me, then this website shall have achieved its purpose admirably.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but nevertheless I have put a few words to each of these photographs, which I hope will convey something of the essence of each butterfly, and the experience of seeing and photographing it. Please click on the individual photographs to read the text, and to enjoy the images at full screen.

 

All of the butterfly photographs on these pages were taken in the wild, under completely natural conditions. 

The majority of photographs were taken using one of two cameras, either a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 bridge camera or a Canon EOS 700DSLR + EF100mm f2.8 Macro IS USM lens.

 

A smaller number were taken using a Sony Alpha A350 + 100mm f2.8 Macro lens, and a handful were taken using my first ever digital camera, a Nikon Coolpix 4500.

 
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